Robert Ditchey

13600 Marina Pointe Drive #415

Marina del Rey CA 90292

(310) 448-8885   e-mail:



§         Expert Witness

§         Consultant, Airline Management

§         Airline Accident Investigation

§         University Teacher (Master’s Level)

§         Media Commentator on Airline Matters



BACKGROUND. Graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD in 1962, Robert Ditchey subsequently completed flight training in Pensacola and became a military pilot.  Over the next fourteen years, his Navy aviation experience included piloting transport-category aircraft (the 4-engined Lockheed P3), supervision of aircraft operational units in both Atlantic and Pacific areas, aircraft carrier operations during the Vietnam War, and command of a remote, island-based facility.  His experience included the development of expertise in aircraft maintenance, pilot and aircrew training and scheduling, and operations management.


            While still on active duty with the Navy, Mr. Ditchey twice returned to the academic community, receiving a Master of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering in 1969 from the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA and later, the post-master's degree of Aeronautical Engineer (AE) from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena CA in 1973.  Mr. Ditchey received an award for excellence in engineering research for wind-tunnel research, and submitted an AE thesis at Caltech on computer analysis of aircraft structures.  As an option to his MS curriculum, he completed formal schooling in aircraft accident investigation and analysis.


            After leaving the Navy in the mid-1970's, Mr. Ditchey began a career with the airline industry, initially at National Airlines in Miami, in Maintenance and Engineering.  Following the National-Pan Am merger in 1979, he moved to New York as a senior member of Pan Am management, also in Maintenance and Engineering.  During this period, he supervised the Pan Am jet engine and component repair facility at the JFK Jet Center, which at the time was the largest Pratt & Whitney engine repair facility in the world, employing over 1000 mechanics. Leaving Pan Am in 1981, Mr. Ditchey was one of the founders of America West, and was its first Senior VP Operations from the origin of the company through the completion of its first full year of revenue service.  Leaving America West to start-up an aircraft leasing venture, he subsequently abandoned that effort and joined a newly-created team that started-up MGM Grand Air in Los Angeles, financed by Kirk Kerkorian.  At MGM Grand Air, Mr. Ditchey was VP Operations and Maintenance.  He had principal responsibility for the FAA Part 121 certification of two new entrant airlines.


            Mr. Ditchey has consulted for airlines, for a financial institution pertaining to an aircraft modification investment, for law firms pertaining to litigation, and for a manufacturing company pertaining to airline marketing initiatives.  Experienced in international airline operations, he has completed two different extended projects abroad, consulting for Balkan Bulgarian Airlines in Sophia, Bulgaria, and for Air Zimbabwe in Harare, Zimbabwe.  He is a member of the faculty at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, teaching Master’s level courses in the Greater Los Angeles Extended Campus. Mr. Ditchey has recently appeared on national television as a commentator on airline matters, including appearances on CNN with Wolf Blitzer, on Bryant Gumbel’s The Early Show, which airs live from New York on the CBS network, on CBS News with Dan Rather, on NBC with Paul Moyer, and on Extra! , airing nationally on NBC.  He frequently does live broadcast interviews on radio stations, including KNX and KCRW (National Public Radio) with Warren Olney.  A number of Mr. Ditchey’s articles about aircraft accidents and aviation matters have been published in The Los Angeles Times’ Op-Ed pages.


            As an expert witness, Mr. Ditchey has represented both plaintiffs and defendants, including airlines, manufacturers, individuals, and foreign corporations.  Examples include: a detailed review of the maintenance record and documents pertaining to a crashed airliner; the defense of a pilot against charges of misconduct and the development of an alternate opinion for the crash and loss of an aircraft; the defense of an aircraft manufacturer against charges of design defect and an inadequate maintenance program; support for a plaintiff in charges of neglect against an airline and crew; and support for a plaintiff in charges of negligence against a maintenance service provider.  In his capacity of an expert witness, Mr. Ditchey has prepared written opinions and declarations, he has been deposed, and he has testified in court before juries.

Current Occupation:             Continuously since 1987.  Consultant to the Airline Industry, Technical Advisor/Expert Witness for Litigators, Television and Radio Commentator, University Teacher (Master’s level).


Office Location – 13600 Marina Pointe Drive, #415,  Marina del Rey CA 90292 Tel. (310) 448-8885 Fax (310) 448-8886, E-Mail –


Consulting services have been provided to NBC, to an entertainment management company, to airlines, to an engine component manufacturer, to a bank regarding investment in acoustic modifications to aircraft engines, to airlines both domestic and foreign, and to lawyers in aviation/airline-related litigation.  Listed as an expert with three technical expert agencies; associated with the firm of Safety Services International (see  Teacher of graduate level  (MS) students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Greater Los Angeles Extended Campus, CA.


MGM Grand Air, Inc.:            Approximately one year, 1986-1987.  Vice President, Maintenance and Operations.


             Office Location – 2250 E. Imperial Highway, Suite 450, El Segundo, CA 90245


Responsible for creation and start-up of new entrant Part 121 airline in scheduled services between LAX and JFK using highly modified B727-100 aircraft (with unique long range fuel tanks).  Airline financed by Kirk Kerkorian.  Duties included all responsibilities for FAA certification; hiring and training of mechanics, flight attendants and pilots; aircraft acquisition, modification and certification; quality assurance; parts and supplies; fuel purchase and storage; all aspects of Part 121 Operating Certificate.


Trident International Lease Finance:            Approximately eighteen months, 1985-1986.  Sole Proprietor (Managing Partner).


            Office Location – 350 North Palm Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90201


Start-up of aircraft leasing venture using asset-based finance.  Self-financed venture built upon the examples of the early concept employed by ILFC and Guiness Peat.  Abandoned this effort to join MGM Grand Air team.


America West Airlines, Inc.:            Approximately three years, 1980-1994.  Senior Vice President Operations.


            Office Location – South Mill Avenue, Tempe, AZ (also, Phoenix, AZ)


Creation and start-up of new entrant airline under Part 121.  Duties included all responsibilities for FAA certification; hiring and training of mechanics, flight attendants and pilots; aircraft acquisition, aircraft lease negotiations, modification and certification; quality assurance; parts and supplies; fuel purchase and storage; all aspects of Part 121 Operating Certificate.  Participated as key member of “road show” team in raising finances and successfully completing IPO.  Led the successful effort to acquire and modify B-737 aircraft from ten different countries.


Pan American World Airways, Inc.:              Approximately two years, 1979-1980.


            Office Location - Pan Am Jet Center, JFK International Airport, New York. System Director, Jet Engine and Component Repair.


Supervised Pan Am’s engine and component repair facility, employing over 1000 unionized mechanics.  Responsible for repair of the following engine models: JT9D (two models), JT8D, CF6 (two models), RB211, JT3D.  Included repair of customer engines from several sources.


National Airlines, Inc.:              Approximately three years, 1976-1979.


            Office Location  - Miami International Airport, Miami, FL.  Director, Maintenance Administration and Contracts.


Principal contract negotiator for all maintenance contracts, including over $40 million annually in engine repairs at Cooper Airmotive, Dallas (CF6) and TWA (JT8D).  Supervised and managed maintenance budget, responsible for maintenance administration.  Led international expansion team which set up support for European expansion into Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Paris, and Zurich.  Responsible for warranty administration.  Negotiated aircraft purchase agreements (with Douglas Aircraft for DC10) and aircraft lease agreements (with CP Air for DC10-30).


United States Navy:            Approximately eighteen years, 1958-1976.


            Assignments in both Atlantic and Pacific operating theaters.


Served as a Navy pilot of four different models of long range patrol aircraft, including the P3C and earlier versions.  Served in Patrol Squadron 50 (Moffett Field; Adak, Alaska; Misawa, Japan; Agana, Guam); Patrol Squadron 10 (Brunswick, Maine;  Argentia, Newfoundland; Keflavik, Iceland; Key West, FL; Bodo, Norway).  Commanding Officer, Naval Facility San Nicolas Island, a SOSUS Station.  Ordance Officer, USS Enterprise CVAN-65; including wartime service on Yankee Station, Vietnam.  Over 3000 hours of pilot flight time experience.



AE – Aeronautical Engineer, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena CA 1973.

MS – Aeronautical Engineering, US Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA 1969.

BS – U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD 1962