Inspiring and funding the next generation of aerospace professionals a key challenge for the Middle East
Addressing challenges in the recruitment, training and retention of both pilots and engineers will be key to the future success of the Middle East’s aviation industry, according to the experts present at day one of the Gulf Aviation Training Event (GATE), a dedicated conference which took place on day two of the Dubai Airshow today.
The programme kicked off with a panel discussion on airline training developments, examining how the Middle East region intends to stay ahead of the industry curve, featuring speakers from across the Gulf aviation training industry.
Education funding, the panel noted, is a key concern for the industry with airlines now less likely to pay high fees to train pilots they then risk losing to competitors. “Look at the amount of money a person would have to pay today to become a pilot. It’s a large sum. Ten or 15 years ago, the airlines themselves would have paid for that,” noted Osama Al Sayed, Head of Business Development at GAA. “Now they’re shying away from doing that and that leaves us with a challenge we need to address.”
Changing the way we train, however, could have wide-reaching impact, Mr Al Sayed explained. “Training now needs to be customised to industry need, that’s absolutely the way forward, with more on the job training needed.” National development funds, he added, were one way to address the gap ensuring that in future airlines have easy access to well trained professionals at the time they are needed.
The conference heard how Mubadala is looking to inspire the next generation of engineers and operational professionals by expanding its education programme into even earlier school years. The Abu Dhabi-based investment firm now runs programmes designed to interest youngsters in the aerospace and engineering fields from all the way through from pre-school to university age, taking professionals into schools to offer real world examples of the benefits of a career in the field.
Meanwhile, Pierre Wannaz, an A380 pilot and advisor to CEFA, explained that as pilots increasingly enter the field directly from training, rather than from traditional military routes offering previous flight experience, ensuring educational programmes adequately prepare entry-level pilots for real-time reactions is key. Highlighting yesterday’s launch of his company’s Aviation Mobile Services (AMS) technology, a software solution which basically allows pilots to review an animation of their flight immediately on landing via tablet, he explained: “Such animations would normally take days or weeks to produce and often rely on crew recollection of what happened – now AMS cuts that out.”
The animations will increase pilot awareness, safety and training, offering high-fidelity visualisations of landing, take-off and other flight moments derived from actual flight recorder data within minutes of landing. The system can also help pilots analyse unusual conditions and landing patterns, in line with the industry desire for better evidence-based training technologies.
Speaking about GATE, Michele van Akelijen, Managing Director of organisers Tarsus F&E LLC Middle East said: “The future success of the aerospace industry depends hugely on the recruitment, training and retention of talented pilots, engineers and operational professionals. It relies just as heavily on providing them with the most up-to-date tools and technology available. In the opening hours of GATE, we have seen how, by bringing together the greatest minds across the training and technological fields, we can continue to ensure that the Middle East remains ahead of the global curve.”
The Dubai Airshow ends on Thursday, November 16, and this year includes a number of new features, including a zone dedicated to Space, the UAS Summit, Cargo Zone and Airport Solutions.