The Business Year

Fahad Al-Harbi

CEO, Saudi Academy of Civil Aviation (SACA)

Mohammed T. Alsubaiei

Director General, National Aviation Academy (Tayaran)

Given that aviation training in the Kingdom is currently fragmented, limited in scope, and unable to support the additional growth in the aviation industry, aviation training academies are working to capitalize on this job creation opportunity for Saudis.

What value does the academy add to the aviation industry?

FAHAD AL-HARBI We want to give the academy the ability to provide services to other players aside from the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA). We started to open up our services to companies in the Kingdom to develop their employees in every sector related to aviation. We currently have around 49 clients that are major players in the aviation sector. One of the main areas we will develop now is the fire and risk department. Two years ago, when we started visiting international organizations the plan was to build an R&D center in Saudi Arabia for the aviation sector under GACA, and to build this we need to partner with universities and the authorities.

MOHAMMED T. ALSUBAIEI Tayaran was born as a national initiative chaired by Prince Sultan Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud with eight founding stakeholders and seeks to accelerate job creation and boost Saudization levels in highly paid jobs for the Saudi youth in elite technical and professional jobs to meet the growing demand in aviation. The academy will also insource unique aviation technical expertise through strategic partnerships with top-notch regional and international aviation entities. The job creation and collaboration with major aviation industry leaders will undoubtedly bring greater value to the local market with a multiplier effect of supporting further growth in the economy.

What are some of the major changes in the aviation industry?

FAH Saudi aviation is undergoing major changes due to the increased number of passengers and focus from the government. It is a crucial element for Vision 2030. The opportunity is there, since the majority of transport happening with goods and passengers is done through the air. Moreover, the development of new airports, and their operational restructuring to ensure profitability, are the clearest signs of the new role aviation is bound to play. There is a great deal of research being carried out to efficiently implement automation to increase profits. One area that seems promising is automated air traffic control, which is now implemented in some countries and some states in the US. Saudi Arabia might see this too.

MTA There is a great deal of growth in the aviation industry around the world, and the Kingdom has a huge part of this transformation. Airports here are witnessing major improvements and developments while being privatized. Another area is the steady growth in tourism, the ambitious plans for mega projects supporting this industry in addition to the definite growth in the number of local and international guests visiting the holy sites in the Kingdom. Previously, the aviation market was heavily regulated, making it hard for any player to enter it. Deregulation in the aviation sector has been one of the main reasons for its success and growth in the US and globally. Today, we are heading toward the same direction, and this is definitely a positive sign.

How and where do you expect IT and technology to affect the aviation industry?

FAH There is a great deal of research being carried out to determine how to efficiently implement automation to increase profits. One area that seems promising is automated air traffic control. IT is the backbone of aviation, from ticketing, baggage handling, aircraft registration, gate allocation, passengers, delays, and scheduling. The same goes for training, which now uses simulator technology and is helping schools. The simulator is cheap compared to the real equipment. The next development will be AI, as stressed by IATA, which is pushing for us to insert virtual technology in our programs, including training people how to do inspection.

MTA Although technology is capital intensive, over the long term it helps reduce operational costs by minimizing possible errors and ensuring safety, which is also why aviation has always been at the forefront of technology. Aviation training is already incorporating simulation or AI with aircraft flight management systems, and the next phase will be AR. In addition, AR goggles can be beneficial, demonstrating the whole aircraft cockpit to accelerate student learning. Our ultimate goal at Tayaran is preparing and empowering young Saudi talent for technical as well as leadership roles in the future and emphasizing the Kingdom’s leading position in the world.



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