By Glenda McCarthy
Bruce Peddle fell in love with airplanes at a very early age. As a child, he would routinely make trips to the St. John’s International Airport to watch planes take off and land. Decades later, he fondly recalls the times spent with his father outside the tarmac, eager to see what would fly overhead.
“The aircraft, when you look at them on final approach, were so big. I distinctly remember they were huge and to me it seemed quite a feat to actually bring an airplane down. At that time the weather in Torbay was quite suspect because of the fog, so to see them come through the fog, it totally impressed me – the noise and the whole drama behind landing an airplane and being so close to that.”
By the time Bruce was 10-years-old his bedroom was littered with the model airplanes he had built.
“At that early stage of my life I decided that was what I wanted to pursue. I remember there were only a few model stores in St. John’s and we would go in and I’d pick out airplane models and learn about them. At that age I was pretty much obsessed with airplanes.”
His passion for planes never waned and as he grew older he held a number of part-time jobs pumping gas and bagging groceries to pay for expensive flying lessons.
“Stepping into the cockpit for the first time was kind of like an affirmation of exactly what I was obsessed about. I said ‘Wow! This is kind of like a dream come true to fly’, and, in fact, it was.”
By the time Bruce graduated from high school, he already had his pilot’s licence and hoped to fulfill his dream of flying planes for a living. But fate had other plans. A lazy eye put his dream of flying the skies each day out of reach.
“Early in my flying career I realized I had an eye problem so it would be difficult to keep a license. It was devastating to me. It was really tough to get my head around that. I was very disappointed, but once I was resigned to that, I decided I still wanted to stay in the industry.”
With his dream career unattainable, Bruce decided to do the next best thing – servicing the airplanes to make sure they fly correctly.
“That’s when someone told me about the Aircraft Maintenance program at CNA in Gander, so I applied for that and got in. I thought the program was great. I was already preconditioned to what it was all about so I absorbed the first year of the program and did quite well. I really applied myself to it.”
That summer Bruce got a great job working for Sealand Helicopters (now Canadian Helicopters Corporation) which only reaffirmed he had made the right choice.
“I knew this was what I wanted to do and so I went back for the second year. I did really well and I even got a permanent job at Sealand once I graduated,” he recalls.
“At that time Sealand was expanding quite a bit internationally so I had the opportunity to be exposed to support projects down in South America, over in Africa for a while supporting offshore drilling with helicopters, and I was up in Canada’s arctic for a summer, so it was really a great job and a great opportunity.”
Five years later Bruce realized he wanted to go even further in the industry so he returned to school to obtain a Bachelor of Commerce Degree, graduating in 1988. After landing a job and a stint at Air Nova (now Air Canada Jazz), he used his accumulated knowledge to open the doors at Bombardier Inc., where he excelled in the world of aircraft marketing and sales.
“I started in performance engineering, where you demonstrate on paper and through analysis the capabilities of aircraft such as landing distances, take off distances, fuel burning range and all these things about the characteristics of an airplane, so it was right up my alley. I travelled all over the world. Working with Bombardier truly was a dream job. I stayed with them for five years.”
These companies helped instill his life-long dedication to the aviation industry, and then he added a certified accounting management program to his credentials.
“I worked in the accounting department at Air Nova so I was dealing with all kinds of aircraft costs. Once I got that certification I started to realize very quickly that I had a pretty unique background and I don’t think I have ever come across anyone else with that background. I had some flying experience, but I also had hands on technical experience working around aircraft as well as marketing aircraft, understanding aircraft performance, and an aircraft finance background as well,” he says.
“I started to pull all this knowledge into one perspective which really gives me a unique way to look at things, not only from the practical or pragmatic side from working on aircraft and maintaining aircraft, but also a marketing perspective, right through the accounting and finance side of the business.”
In 2007 Bruce took the position of Vice President of North America’s Airline Market for Embraer. In this role he was responsible for marketing, sales and product support for the company’s airline market activities which focused on capturing new business and achieving excellence in customer satisfaction and after-sales support.
“They were building their regional jets and they agreed to sponsor me into the US. They applied for and got me a work visa so I could go to the US and work with them in marketing and sales of their products.”
Bruce also spent over four years as the Managing Director for Embraer Asia-Pacific in Singapore.
“They offered me a job to set up and run an Asia office and they asked me to go for two years. I moved my wife over, and my son was born over there, and I ended up staying for four-and-a-half years.”
After 14 years with EMBRAER, Bruce made the move back to Bombardier to work in the aircraft fractional ownership side of the business.
He was named Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Flexjet, the world’s single largest closed fleet of Bombardier business aircraft, based in Dallas, Texas.
Most recently, Bruce was named Vice President of Aircraft Leasing and Trading with Chorus Aviation in Dallas, Texas.
And while he’s seen a lot through his 30-plus year career in the aviation field, his favourite thing about the industry is that there is always something new to learn.
“I love all of the different aspects of the industry. As I have moved up through my career there are just so many aspects that are new. Even in my job today we look at new opportunities, new aircraft, new businesses and meeting new people. It’s not your typical 9-5 office job,” Bruce says.
“You have a lot of technological development that ensures the industry is advancing and there are always new technologies on the horizon, and then you also have the commerce side of the business evolving as well. The industry is fairly young and continues to evolve.”
Learn more about Bruce’s story at cnastories.ca/bruce.