Etihad steps up graduate training capability for Abu Dhabi's engineers of the future
Etihad Technical is further investing in its expansive Graduate Engineering Programme, which was launched in 2010. After a multi-million-dollar investment in a dedicated Airbus classroom, complete with the latest simulators and the airworthiness approved Airbus Competence Training (ACT) 'learning by doing' concept, it's ploughed more money into a Boeing classroom which will be operational by Q3 this year.
It’s a demonstration of solid commitment to its graduate programme which Faisal Al Mulla, the airline’s Senior Manager Graduate Engineering Programme, says is developing “the engineers of the future who will work on one of the world’s most modern fleets.” The programme is focussed on recruiting 80 UAE national recruits a year until 2019.
Currently 280 graduates – 80 international recruits and 200 UAE nationals - are signed up to the programme which is offered in partnership with the Abu Dhabi’s Higher College of Technology and the Al Ain International Aviation Academy. The four-year programme, which involves two years of classroom training and a further two of on-the-job experience enables trainees to obtain an EASA and GCAA accredited B1 engineering licence in airframe and engines or B2 avionics licences in aviation engineering technology.
The programme’s international intake now sees Moroccans and Omanis training alongside UAE nationals and graduates from the Seychelles, Serbia and Italy – countries where Etihad has an equity share in the national carriers.
The on-the-job training at Etihad enables the graduates to complete the GCAA practical requirements. They are posted to various sections such as light/heavy and line maintenance and they also have to complete specialised aircraft type courses to become fully licenced Airbus or Boeing aircraft engineers.
“At Etihad we are always focused on the technical development of the next generation of engineers especially our young Emirati nationals, who have grown from the programme as graduate engineer trainees to certifying engineers. Additionally this is a great opportunity for young people from within the countries of our equity partners to immerse themselves within an organisation of engineering excellence and in doing so garner knowledge, skills and experiences which will enable them, and the organisation they represent, to grow personally and professionally,” explained Jeff Wilkinson, Senior Vice President of Etihad Airways Technical and General Manager, Etihad Engineering.
The graduates also get on-the-job training from within the equity partners, for example, two have already undergone training at Etihad Regional and a further two are in the UK and Serbia.
The trainees are chosen after extensive assessments and, once qualified, become part of Etihad Airways Engineering, the airline’s technical division at the dedicated aircraft maintenance facilities at Abu Dhabi International Airport.
“Currently training is conducted by 10 Etihad instructors but as we expand, we will be recruiting more instructors,” explained Al Mulla.
To meet Etihad’s future requirements, Al Mulla says the airline will expand its training portfolio to cover all aircraft types and is seeking approvals for training for the B787, A380 and for the A350 in the longer term.
“And there is a possibility of having our own all-inclusive GCAA and EASA 147 approved training facility sometime in the future,” explained Al Mulla. “This would provide basic licence courses as well as aircraft maintenance types and specialised courses.”
Recruitment of UAE nationals has picked up over the years, according to Al Mulla.
“It was hard to recruit nationals at the beginning but now it is getting easier. Word-of-mouth is spreading and we are receiving more applications from technically qualified young Emiratis, 80% of which are men. We also go into high schools to promote aviation engineering roles so that students are aware of the options before they go for further education. Increasingly there is interest from young UAE national women.”
Geneva-bound to Etihad Regional is 23-year-old UAE national Shereen Al Mazrouie, (pictured below) who’s now only six months away from qualifying as an aircraft engineer. The career choice, says Shereen, is not out of the reach of Emirati women. “It suits anyone with an interest in aviation,” she said. “I love it – perhaps the only drawback is having to work outside in the summer sun and humidity. I’ve also really enjoyed training alongside other nationalities. There are no communication difficulties between us, we all really get along. It’s a big responsibility but one I think is worthwhile to eventually be able to play a part in building our own national carrier.”