Agents of Change – Top 20 under 40

Jul 6, 2019

WINGS Top 20 Under 40, Influencing the Future of Canadian Aviation

In the annual Top 20 Under 40 program, sponsored by the Seneca School of Aviation, WINGS recognizes inspiring young leaders influencing the direction of Canadian aviation and aerospace based on their demonstration of leadership, innovation, influence, achievement and/or dedication shown to their organization and the Canadian aviation industry.

Brant Arnold-Smith, Director, Security and Terminal Operations, Victoria Airport Authority

Brant Arnold-Smith, age 37, is the youngest member of Victoria Airport Authority’s executive team. He has been directly involved in aviation for just nine years, after focusing the early part of his career in emergency services, beginning as a volunteer firefighter in his home town of Victoria. Arnold-Smith moved to the mainland to serve as an on-call firefighter with Surrey Fire Service and shortly after found his first opportunity to work in aviation when Vancouver International Airport (YVR) put out a competition for its Aircraft Rescue Team. The airport decided to move these services in-house and Arnold-Smith was one of 24 successful applicants, among some 3,000, to join the team. His role expanded as an airfield operations specialist, but he decided to leave YVR to join the Vancouver Police Department, where he served as a constable and sergeant for nine years. He was then approached to oversee YVR’s aviation security program.

“It really helped with relationships at the airport with CBSA, U.S. customs, RCMP, CSIS… I walked a mile in their shoes as a police officer, so you have that instant connection and credibility,” he explains.

Eventually, Arnold-Smith’s responsibilities at YVR grew to include the Integrated Operations Centre/Emergency Operations Centre, where he was the primary management representative responsible for safety, security and efficiency of all airport facilities and operations (terminal, airside and groundside); in addition to managing all aircraft and airport emergencies. This came in the midst of incredible growth for Canada’s second largest airport, which is now approaching 27 million passengers per year – from a mark of around 17 million passengers in 2003 when Arnold-Smith worked on the Aircraft Rescue Team.

In late 2018, Arnold-Smith returned home to join Victoria International Airport (YYJ), which is also experiencing exponential growth, reaching above two million passengers last year (December 2018) – 5.9 per cent growth year over year. At YYJ, Arnold-Smith is responsible for aviation/corporate  security, terminal/airport operations, regulatory compliance, emergency management and project management.

“You never know what is going to get thrown at you in an airport and that is the beautiful thing of working in operations. It is a very dynamic and challenging environment – every day is different,” he explains. “Safety and security is the core of the aviation business. It is what passengers and employees expect. It is the cornerstone of what we do.”

A January 2018 economic impact study by InterVISTAS Consulting, shows YYJ generated 4,200 full-time equivalent jobs, $270 million in wages and $880 million in total economic output; amid an investment of $189 million into the airport since transferring to a local airport authority in mid-1997. Currently underway is a $19.4 million terminal building expansion. This 27-month project, that began in January of 2018, is the airport’s largest singular capital investment to date and the third phase of a multi-phase terminal and apron expansion.

“YYJ is one of the best airports in North America. We are the only one of two airports in Canada that have zero debt,” Arnold-Smith says, noting how much he has already learned joining the airport’s seasoned executive team. He also serves on the Canadian Airports Council Security Committee, Airports Council International Public Safety & Security Steering Group, BCAC Airports Committee, and BCAC Silver Wings Awards Planning Committee.

BC Aviation Council Update: Brant was elected to the BCAC Board of Directors at the May 2019  Airports, Aviation, Aerospace conference. Brant is Chair of the 2020 Conference in Victoria and recently took on being the Chair of the BCAC Leadership Committee. From all of us at the BC Aviation Council, congratulations Brant!

(News Source: Wings Magazine, Writer: Jon Robinson)