Air Tindi employed a pilot-in-waiting program in which newly licensed pilots would work as ramp attendants for a period of time before moving into a pilot position. Under that arrangement, the pilots would gain operations experience, and the company would benefit from assessing the suitability of prospective pilots. Initially, they would fly as copilots on multiengine aircraft and be mentored by experienced pilots. This was followed by type training on the Cessna 185 or Cessna 208 for day VFR operations and line indoctrination to scheduled service destinations.

The accident pilot progressed through this program after obtaining a commercial pilot license - airplane in 2004. He worked as a ramp attendant until 2007 and then began flying as a copilot on the de Havilland DHC-6, acquiring approximately 1,500 hr., primarily in VFR operations. In 2010, he began flying as copilot on the Beech King Air 200, on which he acquired approximately 450 hr. of IFR flying. In February 2011, he began training on the Cessna 208, completing a VFR pilot proficiency check ride in March 2011, followed by company line indoctrination on type.

He did not pass a renewal Group 3 (single-engine) IFR check ride due to difficulties with GPS use, but after additional training, he passed a second IFR check ride on Aug. 18, 2011. All the pilot's revenue flights in the C208 as captain were under VFR. The pilot was qualified for the flight and had a valid instrument rating as well as medical and pilot proficiency certification. The pilot's flight and duty time limits were not exceeded. The pilot had just returned to work after three days off, and there were no indications that fatigue affected the pilot's performance.