AVIATION TRAINING

Saudi Arabia 2017 | AVIATION | B2B

The explosive increase in airports and all things aviation in Saudi Arabia means growing demand for job training, from air traffic control to private pilot licensing.

Fahad Sulaiman Al Harbi
FAHAD SULAIMAN AL HARBI
President
Saudi Academy of Civil Aviation (SACA)

How does Vision 2030 fit into your operations and services?

Fahad Sulaiman Al Harbi Training is increasingly needed to develop existing professionals or help newcomers to gain the needed skills. Of the jobs we offer, not only in aviation but in general, at least 50% of the jobs do not require a university degree. This is why technical and skills-based vocational training is key to the reforms in the education sector that Vision 2030 is implementing. In our field, the more airports we have, the higher the demand for skilled people in aviation, from ground handlers to services within the airport to the air traffic control tower. At SACA, we used to offer three-year diplomas, but we have shortened that to a one-year diploma because of the high demand. We will also offer a certification program with no diploma points; attendees can stay two or three months just to fill a gap. Some companies alone have around 10,000 jobs in ground handling in Saudi Arabia, so the demand for certification and training is huge, and we are adjusting to meet that need.

MANSOUR ALSHARIF We have created a landside area, which in aviation terms is the airport area one can walk into without any checkpoints. In the landside areas of any airport there are restaurants, commercial spaces, and leisure activities. We are investing in a larger portion of landside operations at the airport to allow for all our activities to be done on the landside, not on the airside. This will include facilities for family picnics and small air shows over the weekends. This fits with the entertainment goals under Vision 2030 and supports other sectors of the economy, such as transportation. We believe aviation can contribute a lot to the entertainment sector including discovery and sightseeing flights. Aside from training, everything else we do in aviation is entertainment. Vision 2030 has also attracted investment. RWAA currently has two big investments underway; we are developing our new campus and replacing our fleet.

What are your ambitions and expectations for the year ahead?

FSAH One of the plans that we have in 2017 is to make the academy a private company. That privatization will make us a more sales- and revenue-oriented organization. In the past, our main client was the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) in Saudi Arabia, but now we have more than 20 different clients Kingdom wide. Now we are serving every airline, airport, and company that deals with airports and their subcontractors. We will have an International Air Transport Association (IATA) training session in Jeddah, which will be the first time it is public. It is no longer free, which signifies a major step for us. Officially we are not a private company just yet, so we do not do sales, but in 3Q2017, we will privatize. For 2017, we wish to triple our customer base and expand our partnerships with universities and academies internationally. International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has conferences that it does every year in different countries, last year it was in Seoul and this year it is in Kenya; we wish to host it here in Jeddah.

MA We have three programs we want to introduce aside from the standard aviation training. We have the VIP private pilot license (PPL), which is a PPL program designed for professionals who want to have PPL training at home. By YE2017 we will also have a standard military conversion program. Under this program, we could convert a military pilot's license to a commercial pilot's license in 10 days with intensive training. We have already been successful with this program with several students in 2017 without even marketing the program yet. Finally, Skydive Saudi Arabia is going to start in January 2018. It is top in our priorities that this service will allow for female jumpers as well as males. This is going to be both for leisure and also for professional skydivers. It is a big program.