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Taking Aviation to New Heights

A Biography of Pierre Jeanniot

Jacqueline Cardinal

Publication Year: 2013

To chart the inspiring journey of Pierre Jeanniot is to trace the remarkable development of the air transport industry. In his youth, Jeanniot survived the bombing of Rome, the occupation of France, and was a witness to the Resistance in the Jura Mountains. In 1963, after the Sainte-Thérèse air tragedy and the threat of finding himself jobless, Jeanniot was inspired to create the famous Black Box, which has since become a pillar of aviation security. Under his direction, Air Canada chose the Airbus rather than the Boeing to renew its fleet, in the midst of a highly visible political crisis. Against all odds, Jeanniot also orchestrated the successful privatization of the airline. His visionary speech at Amman, delivered when he was at the helm of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), laid out modern aviation’s most urgent priorities regarding accident prevention, protection of the environment, and technological progress. A master of logistics, he successfully negotiated the impasse in the skies following the September 11 terrorist attacks and handled the many complications that came in their wake.

Pierre Jeanniot’s influence has been felt far beyond the aviation world. His longstanding desire to facilitate access to higher learning led him to participate actively in the founding of the Université du Québec. A skilled diplomat, he also helped to resolve political problems in Iran, Libya, North Korea, and the Middle East. Taking Aviation to New Heights is the story of a great leader who has left an indelible mark on his milieu. He has truly piloted aviation to new heights.

Published by: University of Ottawa Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii

List of Boxes

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pp. ix-x

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Introduction: Who Is Pierre Jeanniot?

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pp. 1-6

in 2007, Air Canada celebrated its seventieth anniversary. A notable achievement, if we think of the “Québécair, Transworld, Northeast, Eastern, Western, pis Pan American” that Robert Charlebois rolled off his tongue in the 1960s song Lindbergh, and that have all since disappeared. Since its plucky beginnings in 1937 as Trans- Canada Airlines (TCA), this Canadian aviation company has evolved into one of...

Part I: Gaston and Renée (1914–1934)

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Chapter 1: Baptism by Fire

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pp. 9-12

At the age of 23, his life was all mapped out. Like his father and grandfather before him, Gaston Jeanniot would be stationmaster at Houdelaincourt, a small village in southwestern Lorraine, from where he could make out the nearby hills of Alsace, where the wine and the days flowed smoothly, despite the Occupation. But on the morning of August 3, 1914, his future took a sharp turn....

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Chapter 2: The Boches Are Coming!

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pp. 13-18

At the age of 23, her life was all mapped out. Like her mother and grandmother before her, Renée Rameaux would marry a young man from a good family, if possible a prominent citizen of Lons-le-Saulnier or Besançon, two important centres in her native Franche-Comté. She had just completed her normal school and was to teach in the Department of Jura or Bourgogne while awaiting the proper suitor with whom...

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Chapter 3: A Train for Addis Ababa

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pp. 19-28

It had already been several weeks since Renée Jeanniot had returned to her apartment over the railroad station in Addis Ababa. She had resumed her daily routine in the Ethiopian capital, a city that seemed to enjoy eternal spring. She was also back with her husband, her bedroom, her books, her easel, her piano and those responsible for taking care of the household. Once more she breathed in...

Part II: Making the Best of Things (1935–1945)

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Chapter 4: My Father, the Hero

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pp. 31-38

From October 1935 until May 1936, Ethopia was a theatre of war—a war that would change the course of its history, and the destiny of the Jeanniot family. Benito Mussolini had been in power in Rome since 1922, and he wanted to give Italy the status of a colonial power like England and France....

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Chapter 5: Rome: Run for Your Life!

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pp. 39-45

The village schoolmistress in Lombard took her courage in both hands. Again and again, she had to pay a visit to Madame Jeanniot to complain about her son’s behaviour in class. This was not a lady to be taken lightly, given her demeanour, her name (a Rameaux by birth) and her culture. The teacher knew that the child no longer had a father, but all the same, his mother had to do something to help her control him....

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Chapter 6: Woolen Pants and Wooden Shoes

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pp. 46-53

The year 1943 marked a turning point in the Second World War, as the Allied forces got the upper hand over the Germany-Italy-Japan axis. After hard-fought battles in North Africa, where the Germans, poorly supported by the Italian and Vichy armies, suffered a decisive reverse vis-à-vis...

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Chapter 7: News from Christine

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pp. 54-59

As soon as her mother and brother made their departure in June 1943, Christine Jeanniot began preparations for her own move. Franco, her husband, was a fighter squadron commander. He had been transferred to Sardinia, and in a few days the family would leave for Cagliari, the island’s

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Chapter 8: Between Patton and de Lattre de Tassigny

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pp. 60-68

The year 1944 was a difficult one for the French population, at the end of its tether after four long years of war and occupation. In Lombard, Renée Jeanniot felt deeply for her daughter, who had suffered so greatly during the summer of 1943. Now she was remarried, with a Canadian who had taken her under his wing, along with her three children. He would doubtless take her to live with him...

Part III: Destination Montreal (1946–1954)

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Chapter 9: Fate or Chance?

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pp. 71-86

Germany’s surrender, signed on May 9, 1945, altered very little in Lombard’s day-to-day life. For some years to come, it was just as difficult for Renée Jeanniot to acquire basic foodstuffs such as milk, butter or cream other than by approaching the region’s farmers directly. When she wanted eggs or vegetables, she could always count on the grey chicken in the barn behind the house,...

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Chapter 10: A Sign from Heaven

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pp. 87-95

By dint of sending her mother letters and photos of her five little girls, including the most recent, who had just made her appearance under Canadian skies, Christine Jeanniot had finally convinced her to make the long journey: to leave Lombard and cross the ocean by plane to the New World, a continent she only knew from books....

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Chapter 11: The Rebellion

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pp. 96-108

All through 1948, Pierre Jeanniot continued to work weekends at the Dominion Store, while attending the Notre- Dame-de-Grâce school during the week. He was able to put in more hours when the number of customers increased. On the Saint-Jean-Baptiste holiday, for example, sales went up, and they needed more packagers and delivery boys. During...

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Chapter 12: Necessary Conditions

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pp. 109-118

In september 1951, Pierre Jeanniot put an end to his career as a porter at the Laurentian Hotel. Before embarking on his search for more serious permanent employment, he thought it would be pleasant to mark the event by organizing a camping trip in the Laurentians with his friends. As he had saved some money over the summer, and he had no urgent need to find work, he could permit...

Part IV: The Black Box (1955–1967)

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Chapter 13: Slamming the Door

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pp. 121-128

At the age of 22, his life was not all planned out in his head, although he felt strongly drawn to the sciences. Unlike his father and his paternal grandfather, he would not be an employee of the French railroad. Pierre Jean Jeanniot would be an electronics engineer in the field of aviation, and in Canada. Nothing to do with trains, railway lines or stations, even less with the railway workers and switchmen...

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Chapter 14: Trans-Canada Airlines

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pp. 129-140

The day after this impulsive gesture, Pierre Jeanniot went to the Unemployment Insurance Officen to consult the list of available positions. He was not overly concerned. Somewhere in Montreal a business in the aviation sector had to be in search of a workforce specialized in electronics. The...

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Chapter 15: The Tragedy of Sainte-Thérèse

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pp. 141-147

It was the last Friday in November, 1963. The night was dark. A dense, heavy rain was pounding the runway tarmac, penetrating the shroud of woolly fog. At 6:33 p.m., a dc- 8f, which had taken off from Dorval four minutes earlier, crashed with 118 people on board into a wooded area near the village of Sainte-Thérèse, thirty kilometres northwest of...

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Chapter 16: The Inventor of the ‘Black Box’

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pp. 148-154

As of the end of the 1950s, there existed in the United States a small flight recorder that noted, on an aluminum band with a metal stylus, six simple parameters: time, speed, direction, angle, internal pressure and altitude. In 1958, TCA installed a version of this recorder in its dc-8 Vanguards.

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Chapter 17: My Cabin at Lake McCaskill

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pp. 155-159

He parked his Renault Dauphine in a clearing among the trees, at the end of the jobbers’ dirt road. A hundred metres farther on by foot, it was waiting for him, there, in all its wild splendour. Two kilometres long and one kilometre wide, Lake McCaskill formed almost a perfect oval in...

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Chapter 18: The Canadian Operations Research Society

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pp. 160-166

By inviting Pierre Jeanniot to join the Canadian Society for Operations Research, Peter Sandiford had wanted to provide the group with the point of view of a practitioner to act as a counterweight to the tendency of certain members to reduce the new discipline to a purely theoretical exercise, cut off from its applications to real life in business. Most were academics, keen on mathematics, who...

Part V: On the Way Up in Air Canada (1968–1983)

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Chapter 19: A Revolution: l’Université du Québec

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pp. 169-179

Some will be surprised that in the midst of a promising career in the aeronautics field, Pierre Jeanniot found himself among the creators of the Université du Québec (the University of Quebec), an institution to which he has remained deeply attached. In order to understand the importance and the meaning of his major contribution to the Quebec university community, we must see it in its historical perspective....

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Chapter 20: Chaos

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pp. 180-189

As soon as he set foot in Air Canada after having spent a year at the Université du Québec, Pierre Jeanniot saw that the restructuring recommended by the McKinsey experts had not only transformed the company’s entire structure, but had also disrupted the mentalities and the culture of the government corporation....

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Chapter 21: Linguistic Turmoil

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pp. 190-203

Once back on his feet, Pierre Jeanniot wanted to go even further in bringing new technology into Air Canada. All through the whirlwind of reorganizing computer services and the tasks surrounding strategic planning, he never lost sight of his favourite child: the electronic reservations system....

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Chapter 22: Goings-on Behind the Scenes

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pp. 204-214

In 1978, Claude Taylor, who had full power as president of Air Canada, undertook a second hierarchical restructuring of upper management. The retirement of his vice-president of operations and services, Maurice D’Amours, gave him that opportunity. As well as appointing a successor, he took the opportunity to choose the five vice-presidents who would henceforth make up his new...

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Chapter 23: Taschereau, Mackasey, Taschereau, Amyot and … One Other

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pp. 215-224

This triumvirate, put in place early in 1979, was not really that. As executive vice-president of marketing, planning and development, Pierre Jeanniot had a preeminent role compared to the two others. He had complete responsibility for defining the company’s strategy and managing the programs that would implement it. John McGill retained the post he had been given about a year earlier as...

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Chapter 24: Open Skies

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pp. 225-232

At first it was hardly noticeable. Then, little by little, things changed. The most discerning, alerted by certain premonitory signs, observed that during the 1970s the airline industry was undergoing a radical transformation all over the world. In a few years, in a few months, tomorrow perhaps, civil aviation would no longer be conducted as it had...

Part VI: President and CEO of Air Canada (1984–1990)

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Chapter 25: The Battle for Asia

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pp. 235-244

Among the horde of competitors Pierre Jeanniot had to face, one stood out. Since the founding of Air Canada (under the name Trans-Canada Airlines) in 1937,37 Canadian Pacific Airlines (CP Air) had not hesitated to block his route. From the time of its founding in 1942, the private company, now based in Vancouver, fought bitterly with Air Canada over the most profitable routes, constantly complaining that the Canadian government was prejudiced in favour of...

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Chapter 26: Boeing or Airbus?

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pp. 245-258

In 1979 the Air Canada fleet was showing signs of fatigue. Many aircraft were more than twenty years old. With the globalization of airline activities in the offing, Pierre Jeanniot, who was then first vice-president of marketing and planning, had to look ahead at how Air Canada could technically and effectively be offering long-haul flights three or four years later. He felt that because the...

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Chapter 27: The Smoke Extinguisher

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pp. 259-268

When he walked into his office in the morning, Pierre Jeanniot sometimes asked his secretary if the Queen was in a good mood, throwing a furtive glance at the framed document over his desk. There one could read that Pierre Jeanniot had been named president of Air Canada by the Privy Council at the “good pleasure of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.” He liked to remind himself that from one day to...

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Chapter 28: Privatization Curtailed

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pp. 269-282

Because each individual embodies certain basic values, the role assumed by a president and CEO varies from one individual to another. That of Pierre Jeanniot is strategic in nature. For him, to be CEO consists in having an overall perspective on the industry within which a company evolves, and in having a clear idea of how that company must position itself to be among the most successful,...

Part VII: Director General and CEO of IATA (1992–2002)

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Chapter 29: Through the Front Door

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pp. 285-293

Comfortably stretched out on his deck chair, facing the sea, Pierre Jeanniot was sipping the last bottle of rosé wine his cousin Jean Bourdy had sent him from Jura for the holidays. With a lazy eye, he followed the long ochre rays of a dying sun slanting across the Florida beach that zigzagged all the way to...

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Chapter 30: Ready About

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pp. 294-307

Files under his arms, Pierre Jeanniot waited patiently at the door of China’s Transport Ministry, accompanied by his petite interpreter, dressed in black. He had planned this meeting for a long time, seeing there his chance to bring into iata the many airlines proliferating in the Middle Kingdom,...

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Chapter 31: The Amman Speech

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pp. 308-324

On November 3, 1997, Jordan’s minister of transport greeted Pierre Jeanniot in person as he disembarked from his plane, with all the protocol reserved for highly placed diplomats. The fifty-third General Assembly of IATA members was taking place that year in Amman, Jordan’s capital. It was, in fact, in the Levantine country that the director general and CEO of the organization had chosen to announce...

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Chapter 32: Kim Jong-il, Gaddafi, Arafat and … the Others

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pp. 325-339

During the 1990s, China was not the only Asian country whose airline industry was thriving. The entire Asia- Pacific region was opening to the world, and many carriers sought to establish new links between Europe, Singapore and Hong Kong, as well as to cities in Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and even the Philippines and Indonesia. The...

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Chapter 33: Waiting for Y2K

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pp. 340-358

Accompanied by his wife, Marcia, Pierre Jeanniot waited impatiently for the flight attendant to unseal the hermetic door of the Ethiopian Airlines plane that had brought them from Geneva to Addis Ababa. A trip without turbulence, so far. On this hot and humid day of August 3, 1996, the director general of IATA was beginning his first official visit to Ethiopia at the express invitation of the president of the national airline....

Part VIII: 9/11 and Its Aftermath

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Chapter 34: September 11, 2001

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pp. 361-376

Geneva, 2:38 p.m., September 11, 2001. It was a Tuesday. The breeze drifting through the half-open window foretold, with its sudden freshness, the end of the Swiss summer. Pierre Jeanniot peered over his reading glasses and gazed outside. Sitting at his work table, he paused in the preparations for his next meeting with the representatives of Eurocontrol....

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Chapter 35: “I’m Coming Back to Montreal”

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pp. 377-386

Chance had it that Pierre Jeanniot was still at the helm of IATA as one millennium passed to the next (Y2K), and when the September 11 tragedy, sadly inaugurating the twenty-first century, took place. His faultless handling of these two pivotal events attracted a great deal of media attention and helped him to consolidate IATA’s position as a key organization among important international decision makers....

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Chapter 36: “The Master of the Skies”

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pp. 387-394

“We are all Americans.” Echoing the words “Ich bin ein Berliner!” pronounced by President John F. Kennedy before the Berlin Wall on June 26, 1963, Jean-Marie Colombani made this the title of his Le Monde editorial of September 13, 2001, and it was a passionate declaration. With this historical paraphrase he gave vivid expression to the spontaneous indignation aroused by the murderous...

The Authors

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pp. 395-396


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pp. 397-399

E-ISBN-13: 9780776630472
Print-ISBN-13: 9780776630465

Page Count: 410
Publication Year: 2013