Friday, May 9, 2008

The UK connection

There are very few industries that can match the diversity and dynamism of the world wide Air Transport Industry , and by launching this programme today, Nilai International University College (Nilai UC) are playing their part in providing the future engineering workforce for Malaysia and more widely the Asia Pacific region.

The technological advances experienced by today’s modern aircraft, in terms of materials, systems, engines and avionics are breathtaking, and one only has to look at the new Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 Dream liner to see this. If one looks solely at the cabin entertainment systems, one can see that today’s international traveller is not content with a film, but demands a wide range of entertainment, encompassing at least 40 video presentations and anything up to 200 audio channels, and as international travel becomes the norm, all in a variety of languages.

What is hidden from them are the thousands of components, hundreds of miles of wiring, and many thousands of feet of tubing all required to ensure that the aircraft gets them to their destination safely. Future aircraft, currently still on the drawing board promise even greater advances in terms of their technology, safety, comfort and entertainment.

However, greater complexity requires even greater and wider ranging skills and knowledge from the engineering workforce, and such knowledge and skills cannot simply be learnt in the hangars and workshops, but is based upon thorough and effective training from the outset. To ensure that this aim is met, Nilai UC has taken great care to ensure that its diploma programme matches the knowledge requirements of the Part 66 Aircraft Maintenance Licence, which is rapidly becoming the world standard for the licensing of aircraft maintenance staff.

Such a measure ensures that graduates from the Diploma course will be equipped with the knowledge and enquiring nature to develop a greater understanding of aircraft maintenance, and play a useful and productive part in maintenance activities from the outset of their employment. For my company’s part, we are working closely with Nilai UC to seek approval to deliver Part 66 examinations to students on the Diploma programme, offering further added value and recognition of student knowledge attainment, offering graduates the opportunity to apply for licence issue once the experience requirements are met. Upon successful graduation students may seek immediate employment within a maintenance organisation and there is also the possibility for them to articulate onto the third year of the Bachelor of Science Degree programme in Aircraft Maintenance, delivered in Scotland by Perth College, a major partner in the University of the Highlands and Islands Millennium Institute.

In closing I would like first of all to congratulate the staff of Nilai UC who have developed this innovative programme, and I know that they will ensure it continues to develop and match the needs and aspirations of its students, and the needs of the industry that it serves. Secondly, I would say to any potential student of this programme, that aircraft maintenance is not the easy option, like the diploma programme itself it demands hard work, strong motivation and a willingness to learn new skills and knowledge, but I would also add, that it is a most rewarding career in a most dynamic industry. Whilst pilots and cabin staff are the most visible, and glamorous of airline employees, both passengers and crew place a sacred trust in the unseen engineering staff, entrusting their safety to the skills and professionalism of the engineer.