You know, at first I found this idea pretty comical actually.
Then I thought about it some more.
One of the problems with AWS is that the entire game is based off averages of averages. So regional is unfeasible and long-haul makes a ton, just to give one example. This makes the game difficult for people trying to do a single strategy -- the game works best once you know how to game it and manage the right mix of short/long and domestic/international to make the averages work in your favor. So we end up with a very homogeneous mix of airlines of what works most effectively in AWS because all the 'rules' are the same, which is VERY unlike the real world where different airlines focus on very different operating strategies because it takes a very different method to be an effective Southwest versus an effective American Airlines versus an effective British Airways for example.
Additionally there are no union or government regulations here that often times play a massive role within an airline's history and decisions they must make -- they might keep it from being able to maintain 4-engined planes effectively, to operate long-haul competitively, or to put a base where they want. And it's not that I envision these 'techs' (which is a poor word in this case, but a game mechanic that most people can identify with) taking the place of exactly those situations but rather the mechanic could serve to function as those sort of strategic decisions that an airline has to make and that can often effect its performance negatively even decades later with unforeseen consequences.
The idea of choosing a "Regional Pilot" "tech" seems stupidly gamey. And, to be frank, taken that simply, it really is. But if you look at it another way it makes a lot more sense. Call it a new labor contract where you've manage to get a nice pay cut out of your small aircraft pilots in exchange for a pay raise on long-haul pilots. This is a perfectly realistic concession that a union would make. And if you're a regional airline you're thinking "So what, I don't have any of those pilots anyway". And maybe you don't for 10 years, but then you decide you want to and now you're faced with higher labor costs on those routes.
Or you work out a concession with the machinists that will you to operate a 4th fleet type with a minimal penalty at the cost of a much higher penalty if you go to 5 fleets. Or you open a base and you have to decide whether you're only going to operate short-haul or also want long-haul and that impacts that huge overhead salary penalty you pay. Really I could think of dozens if not hundreds of these that could really differentiate one airline from another, even on multiple game-worlds with the same base, whereas now they're all the same. This could really make a different in the long-term replayability of the game.
So instead of calling these "techs" or some sort of "research tree" akin to some RTS game, let's think of them as "strategic decisions" (which isn't to say that some of them may not involve time or money). With the ultimate goal of making your airline a little more unique than all the others. If you're a fan of the Fallout series of games, you could think of these as the Perks and Traits that the series is famous for. "Traits" are chosen to start and they are bonuses to certain stats that also have negatives to other stats. And "Perks" are earned every X levels and allow some sort of bonus to a particular stat. I would envision more "traits" than "perks" in such a system here, meaning that your choices weren't just bonuses but rather also effected something else negatively. That way it's about balancing both the upside and the downside.
And I think these, at least usually (some might be private), would make for great "Announcements" within the Airline News section too and give that section a little more liveliness and a lot more interest.