Roger Cohen joined the Regional Airline Association (RAA) in 2007 bringing extensive government affairs, public relations and civic affairs experience to the organization whose member airlines provide one-half of the scheduled passenger flights in the US. He is a past vice-president regional affairs for the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA) and spent more than 15 years with Airlines 4 America (formerly the Air Transport Association), where he led the airline industry's efforts with governors, legislatures and big city mayors as managing director/staff vice-president, state and local government affairs.

How did your career in aviation commenced?

Roger Cohen - WW

By chance at college, I had time before lunch and answered an ad in the Daily Northwestern for a TWA campus sales rep. I luckily landed the job - (imagine getting paid and free travel around the world when you're in college) - and worked summers both interning in the airline's PR department and working in reservations (before computers, so we used 3x5 cards). The lessons I learned back in 1972 are still valid now.

What is your role as the head of the RAA?

I view my role as the steward of an incredibly effective institution that for nearly 40 years has helped nurture an industry that today flies half the scheduled flights in the US. Under the RAA umbrella, RAA's members and supplier partners have built a vibrant industry that connects more than 600 communities to the global economy - my role is to help inspire everyone to keep regional aviation growing and most importantly safe.

What do you enjoy about your job?

Everything and everybody, and as I've said numerous times, leading RAA is an honoUr and the greatest gig in DC. RAA has a committed and loyal team with active, supportive members. I wouldn't trade it for any other job - other than maybe commissioner of baseball or NFL.

What's your biggest challenge?

Trying to do everything we want to do to support our members with limited resources. When others get a "peek behind the curtain" and see just how small our team is and our annual budget, they can't believe we achieve all we do on the regulatory and legislative front - let alone throw a million dollar convention and trade show. No trade association in DC does more with less than RAA.

What has been the highlight of your career to date?

Without question, seeing our members deliver on the promise we made to Congress and the traveling public that we would do everything within our power to prevent another tragic accident. Our members have stepped up - adopting all the gold standard voluntary safety programs, conducting groundbreaking pilot fatigue research and pushing everyone to keep safety the #1 priority.

What do the next 12 months hold for RAA?

Twelve months? What about the next 12 hours! Of course, helping our members transition to a range of new standards, and creating a public policy environment in which regional airlines can succeed. However, I've learned over the past 40 years that "long-term planning" and "airline business" don't belong in the same sentence, especially with the speed of change in the world today. I look at it like pitching a baseball game - the "plan" is to get 27 outs, but you can only get them one at a time. Same approach here - address each challenge and opportunity as they come to the plate.

Source: Flight International