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Getting to Know RTCA’s new President and CEO, Carol Huegel

December 20, 2023
Home / News / Getting to Know RTCA’s new President and CEO, Carol Huegel

We are proud to welcome longtime RTCA advocate, former Advisory Board member and former Vice Chair of the Board of Directors, Carol Huegel, as the new President and CEO of RTCA.  Carol brings to the position more than three decades of aviation industry experience, which includes past positions as Senior Vice President of Business Development, Advanced Research and Engineering Development with Metron Aviation; Managing Director of Air Traffic and Surface Management Strategy with American Airlines; and, most recently Carol supported L3Harris partnership with the FAA.

Carol is committed to continuing RTCA’s track record of serving its members with a deep dedication to safer skies through collaboration and an eye for industry needs to safely integrate new and emerging technologies along with new aircraft operators into the aviation ecosystem.  Looking forward, Carol says she is energized to take on her new role and help us usher in RTCA’s 90th anniversary in 2025.  The Digest sat down with Carol to ask a few questions as she officially takes over from President and CEO, Terry McVenes, who is retiring in January of 2024.

What made you fall in love with aviation?

When I was in college, I studied software engineering and thought I’d spend my career as a software geek (“geek” with much affection 😊).  I was presented with the opportunity to do what was, basically, an internship with ARINC which led to a full-time position post-graduation.  Only a few years in, I had been injected with the aviation serum as my personal orbit included exposure to airline flight operations, so you could say I became immersed in the industry and have never left.  I didn’t go looking for a career in aviation, but the industry kind of chose me.  I firmly believe everything happens for a reason and now, I look back and see how profoundly that 4-month internship shaped my professional trajectory.

How did you become involved with RTCA?

RTCA has always just kind of been there for me. ARINC was very involved with RTCA.  I remember being curious about this dynamic and, going to RTCA for the first time, listening to the conversation in the room.  I was struck by the debate, sometimes contentious, in the room and the way the participants eventually found consensus and could agree to disagree over a cup of joe.

What do you see as RTCA’s strengths historically and its greatest challenges for the future?

RTCA brings a legacy of integrity and an overarching dedication to safety first which is pivotal to meeting the needs of new entrants and advanced technologies while continuing to meet the needs of the legacy aviation ecosystem. I view RTCA as the optimum organization to play a leadership role in all that lies ahead and it’s a real privilege to be a part of it.  I’m looking forward to putting together a Listen and Learn tour in 2024 with a focus on understanding the voice of our members and how we at RTCA can continue to serve our members.

One of the greatest challenges for our industry is crafting a roadmap that gets us from where we are today to an integrated aviation ecosystem.  It’s a complex and exciting journey.  A challenge as an organization will be participation from our existing members who all have day jobs so-to-speak and encouraging new entrants to see the value in becoming RTCA members.  I’d like to see all of our members actively participate on our committees as we safely usher in the future.  For example, we have hosted AAM and AI/ML workshops whereby we listened to what our members need and we’re now exploring how RTCA can meet some of those needs.  Another challenge is ensuring our initiatives complement those of our sister associations to ensure our members’ time is well spent supporting the various initiatives.

What can we expect as RTCA transitions from Terry’s leadership to yours?

Top priorities for Terry and I are a seamless transition for our RTCA team and our members.  We will stay the course in 2024 while evaluating our strategic plan moving past 2024. Another priority is to meet with our Advisory Board members, who represent many different areas of aviation, and explore how we best utilize their expertise to help us execute our strategic plan.

We will continue to deliver for industry and continue to engage members with Workshops and Webinars and build on past success while growing to meet new industry challenges.

What is your leadership style?

First of all, I want to learn. I have an appetite for learning and growing and feel everyone should have a voice. Though I’ve met many people and they’ve come to know me, I’d like to get into the field and collect ideas.  I want our members to continue to feel they are getting a return on their investment in RTCA.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?

I’m a gym rat and you can also find me at my Weber – everything tastes better on the grill. I also love heading up to New York to visit family. New York City is a special place, especially during the holidays.

Congratulations to Carol and our thanks to Terry for his outstanding leadership.  RTCA wishes all our members a very happy, healthy, and safe holiday season!

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