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Obituary: Raymond Tighe 1948 - 2011

28 April 2011

Aircraft industry loses business leader and friend.

Tags: Raymond Tighe  |  obituary  |  Aer Lingus  |  Guinness Peat Aviation (GPA)  |  Tony Ryan  |  GE Capital Aviation Services (Gecas)

Raymond Tighe passed away on April 3 2011, at the age of 63, after a two and a half year battle with cancer. Tighe was a leading innovator in the aircraft leasing industry for more than 30 years and he continued his work until the end.

Tighe's family has had a long association with the airline industry going back to the 1930s. His father, Des, served in Iona Airlines, the Irish Army Air Corps and Aer Lingus, where he was line service manager in Shannon. Tighe loved flying from an early age and began his career during one of the most exciting times of commercial air transport. He joined Aer Lingus in the mid-1960s fresh out of high school. He then moved to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania to join American Flyers. Tighe earned his pilot's licence in his early twenties: an achievement that was one of his greatest joys. Tighe later moved to Trans World Airlines where he earned his licence as a flight dispatcher in the early 1970s.

Tighe met his wife Meav, a member of the Aer Lingus ground operations crew at London Heathrow Airport in 1971. It was while on his honeymoon in Thailand in 1973 that he first met Tony Ryan, found of Guinness Peat Aviation (GPA). Ryan became a hero and mentor to Tighe and the two men formed a close friendship that lasted throughout their lives.

In the early 1980s, Tighe joined GPA to developed the leasing company's trading floor. During his time there, he and Niall Greene established the first major turboprop aircraft leasing company in a joint venture between GPA and Pacific Western Airlines. The venture was a major success, opening the market for regional air transportation using modern turboprop aircraft in many countries around the world.

Tighe later joined GE Capital Aviation Services (Gecas) in 1992 when the lessor bought GPA. There he continued to develop the market for turboprop and regional jet aircraft. When he left Gecas in 2002, in response to many requests from industry leaders, he established Magellan Aircraft Services and was immediately mandated to manage the turboprop portfolios owned by several European aerospace banks.

Over the years Tighe became a source of industry knowledge to a large diaspora of colleagues from around the world. The very mention of Tighe's name elicited an immediate warm response and conversation soon turned to his unique knowledge, expertise and his wonderful family that he loved so much.

Tighe had a gift for helping launch the careers of young people eager to build a life in the aircraft leasing business. He was generous with his time and his connections. In recent years Tighe had also became an advocate for expanding the presence of Ireland in the global aerospace financing industry by encouraging everyone he encountered to meet in Dublin every January at the Airfinance conference. Ray was a fountain of aviation knowledge, a respected aircraft trader and an acknowledged leader in his profession who will be missed by his loving wife Meav, his children Leonie and Paul, his many friends and colleagues who will cherish his memory for ever.
Patrick Harris was a colleague and friend of Ray Tighe's.

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