For Eric S. Lucas, Manager of International Arrangements in Ottawa, joining Transport Canada (TC) was a tribute to the country that welcomed him and his family.
Eric dreamed of becoming a pilot: "I was born and grew up in the Philippines. Learning to fly was very expensive and something my family couldn’t afford," he explained. "My solution was if I can’t fly 'em? Work on them." So he studied to become an aeronautical engineer.
Eric started his career as an airframe and systems engineer, starting with small (general aviation) airplanes and eventually moving on to bigger transport airliners. He believes in a hands-on approach and spent his off-hours working alongside mechanics and technicians to improve his understanding of how aircraft technology works.
As part of his engineering job, he flew on many test flights to gauge performance following heavy maintenance work and before returning the aircraft to service. After a few years with Philippine Airlines, he moved to the Middle East to work as a structures engineer where he maintained a fleet of aircraft for a Head of State. Several years later, the opportunity of a lifetime came when the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) offered him a job as an airworthiness expert.
But after a decade of living around the world, Eric and his family were ready to settle down. "We needed to decide on a place to call home. We wanted an education for our three children that would be recognized worldwide. So we chose Canada. And since Canada welcomed us, part of the way to show my gratitude for that hospitality was to join the public service."
His 23-year career at TC has taken him from hands-on to hand-shakes. Eric’s focus is improving technical procedures with international partners from other countries and organizations. It’s important to him that Canada is seen as a proactive regulator and continues to build its international reputation. He has model airplanes on his desk to remind him how important these conversations are to the international aviation industry.
The future of flight
Aviation has evolved substantially since the first flight in Canada in 1909 when J.A.D. McCurdy flew the Silver Dart at Baddeck, Nova Scotia, which prompted the creation of the Aeronautics Act in 1919 (100 years of aviation in Canada). Eric notes the tremendous effort to make the civil aviation industry more efficient in Canada and around the world.
"The amount of technology being used in the industry has changed the designs of the aircraft," he said. "When I first started, metal was the material of choice for aircraft, but now composites are being used more and more. I’m proud of the work TC does as a regulator to keep looking where we—and the industry—want to be in the next 10 to 15 years."
Every day, Eric wakes up excited to see what challenges await in the office.
"I’m excited to have a small role in helping planes fly safely. I tell my children and grandchildren about the wonders of working around airplanes. But more importantly, I want them to find a career they’re passionate about every day. That’s the kind of job I do at TC!"