Michael McCormick is an aviation consultant that has been in the business for 32 years.  His expertise cuts across all the key aspects of aviation namely: Aeronautical science, commercial and military piloting, and safety investigations. As a seasoned aeronautical scientist, commercial ATP pilot, and US Air Force veteran, McCormick has commanded a spectrum of aircraft, from the F111 to the Lear, King Air, Citation, and Lancair 4P. Notably, he made history by breaking the sound barrier at 25, piloting an F-111. McCormick’s prowess extends to aircraft accident investigation, a specialization he has excelled in over the years. McCormick’s respect in the aviation industry is based on his experience and a strong academic background in matters aviation. Michael McCormick holds a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics/Aviation/Aerospace Science and Technology from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, along with ATP Commercial Multi-Engine Instrument certification from the FAA. Leveraging his skills and experience, McCormick has over the years provided invaluable guidance in numerous aircraft accident investigations, consistently achieving success. Beyond his professional commitments, he’s dedicated to nurturing future aviation professionals. Serving as a mentor, he imparts his wisdom, leaving an enduring impact on the industry’s future.

Can you share with us the most challenging aviation incident you’ve encountered in your career, and how did you handle it?

That would be a day I navigated severe weather conditions during a cross-country flight. Quick decision-making and effective communication with air traffic control ensured a safe outcome. On the bright side this helped sharpened my flying skills by being able to navigate through diverse complex situations.

Breaking the sound barrier at such a young age is an incredible achievement. Can you walk us through the experience and how it influenced your career in aviation?

I would say it was a surreal experience especially because I was only 25 at the time. Once I did, my confidence went through the roof. It solidified my passion for pushing boundaries in aviation and inspired a lifelong pursuit of excellence in flight. I am happy I made a go at it.

With your extensive experience in both military and commercial aviation, what are some key differences you’ve noticed between the two sectors, especially in terms of safety protocols and procedures?

One of the biggest differences between the two is that, military aviation demands precision and adherence to strict protocols, whereas commercial aviation prioritizes passenger safety and operational efficiency. The requirements are well suited for the unique needs of the two sectors.

As an expert in aircraft accident investigation, what are some common factors you’ve observed in aviation incidents, and how do you approach unraveling their complexities?

Over the years, I have noted that most aircraft accidents often involve a combination of human error, mechanical failure, and environmental factors. To understand the main cause of any accident, I keenly analyze data and collaborate with experts to find subtle hints as to what may have transpired. Often the reason is not as clear cut, and you need attention to detail to avoid pinning the cause on the wrong reasons.

Could you elaborate on the role of an aviation consultant in managing aircraft accident investigations? What are some specific challenges you’ve faced in this role?

As an aviation consultant in accident investigations, my role usually involves coordinating with various stakeholders, analyzing evidence, and providing actionable recommendations to improve safety measures. There are may challenges that come with this role. One I have seen often is a case where action is not taken fast enough to deal with the root causes of the accident, especially when it’s deemed to be a minor issue.

Mentorship seems to be a significant aspect of your career. What inspired you to become a mentor, and what advice do you typically offer to young individuals aspiring to join the aviation industry?

Mentorship allows me to impart knowledge and inspire the next generation of aviation professionals. I love mentorship because it feels good to be part of those shaping the next generation of aviators. There is an unexplainable satisfaction that comes with being a mentor. When mentoring upcoming aviation professionals, I often emphasize the importance of dedication, continuous learning, and professionalism in pursuing their dreams. These are pillars that made me who I am today, and I believe they are timeless.

How do you stay updated with the latest advancements and technologies in aviation, and how do you incorporate them into your work as an aeronautical scientist and commercial pilot?

I stay updated through continuous learning. This, I usually do through industry publications, conferences, and networking keeps me abreast of advancements. Once I learn something new that has the potential to change the industry, I usually don’t hesitate it in my work to enhance safety and efficiency. Overall, I am quite adaptable to industry changes, something I believe is key to growth in any profession.

Can you share a particularly rewarding moment from your career where your expertise directly contributed to improving safety protocols or preventing future accidents within the aviation industry?

 There was a time I helped a small airline company better handle a routine maintenance issue that pre-exposed them to accidents, but they had either not picked it up, or were having a hard time handling it cost effectively. It was rewarding knowing that through my work, I was helping in keeping the sky’s safe for everyone. Knowing that my expertise contributes to preventing accidents drives my commitment to excellence.

Balancing roles as a pilot, aeronautical scientist, and aviation consultant must require excellent time management skills. How do you prioritize your tasks and responsibilities effectively?

It’s pretty much like any other job; effective time management is crucial to getting anything done. I usually prioritize tasks based on urgency and impact, ensuring that responsibilities as a pilot, scientist, and consultant are fulfilled efficiently.

Looking ahead, what do you envision for the future of aviation, and what role do you see yourself playing in shaping that future?

I believe the future of aviation holds exciting possibilities, from sustainable aircraft to advanced safety systems. I envision myself continuing to innovate and mentor, contributing to safer skies and inspiring future generations to reach new heights in aviation.


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