Educating members, legislators and regulators is the job Ric Peri loves. However, his work goes far beyond serving as vice-president of government and industry affairs for the Aircraft Electronics Association

Did you always want a career in aviation?

My love of aviation didn't start until I was 17. My exposure really began when I hung out with a neighbour in San Diego. He owned the engines to a couple of AA fuel dragsters (race cars). When I enlisted in the USAF in 1971 I was asked what I wanted to work on and I chose helicopter maintenance. This started a 25-year career in search and rescue (three tours in helicopters and three tours in fixed wing).

What led to AEA?

That fun and wondrous road began in 1982. One of the paths I chose led me to being the US Coast Guard's lead for industrial safety and environmental management of aircraft maintenance functions. I began an affiliation with PAMA (Professional Aviation Maintenance Association) in the early 1990s that led to an advisory role with its board of directors. In 1993, at headquarters, I began working with the Washington-based aviation industry groups on regulatory issues. When I retired from the Coast Guard I was recommended by the then-president of PAMA for the National Air Transportation Association. In 2001, AEA recruited me for my current position.

What's in a typical week?

There is nothing typical in a typical week. I work with the regulatory agencies to protect businesses we represent, minimising the impact of regulations while promoting the highest level of aviation safety. I start most days by reading and reviewing proposals, policies and guidance from regulatory authorities in Europe, North America and the South Pacific. I consult our 1,300 member companies to resolve their regulatory issues as well as the international flight operations issues of their customers. I educate our membership through communications with Avionics News and our new AEA Wired newsletter, as well as regulatory and legislative updates. Then, in my spare time, I am active in the Baltimore FAA Safety Team.

What's your favourite part of this job, and least favourite?

My favourite part is the training and outreach to the industry. Mark Twain wrote if you choose a job you love, you'll never work a day in your life. The least favourite is the lack of hangar time. Working at my desk doesn't allow me to wake to the sounds and smells of aviation.

What are the main regulatory challenges?

Politics has entered the avionics industry and causes great problems. Not only politics at legislative level but also office politics of regulators. NextGen and SESAR are both solid, efficiency-improving concepts but the different mandates within the regulators continues to challenge the industry. Even their overall organisational leadership will not risk making a decision and it drills down to the lowest level of the regulator organisations.

Ric Peri - c) AEA 
 © AEA
 Peri's aviation career began in the USAF, maintaining helicopters

Why become editor of Aviation Entrepreneur?

AE was established to provide a roadmap for, and encouragement of, aviation start-ups. If you are a start-up and looking for an association home, AE provides a consolidated description of the existing aviation associations and what they represent. For those outside the industry, AE provides a listing (and link) to the regulations by the area of authority in English rather than the more familiar regulatory number.

What has the White House recognised you for?

While with the Coast Guard, I initiated a "pollution prevention" project that significantly reduces the volume of hazardous materials used in Coast Guard aircraft maintenance. The programme saved multiple millions of dollars the first year with a considerable six-figure reduction in operating expenses in the out years. After receiving the White House Closing the Circle award, I was selected as the Department of Transportation's representative to the White House Office of the Federal Environmental Executive.

How many hours have you saved by dropping the "k" from "Rick?"

Explaining there is no "k" has cost more hours than it has saved. Thanks, mom!

Source: Flight International