There’s a Place for You Here – Part 1 cont.

by Egi Gaisie

This continues our conversation in the previous post where my Guest, Madam Gloria Wilkinson Mensah didn’t mince her words on competencies which propelled her in her career journey. She drew our attention to the need to become digitally proficient (tech-savvy) to secure and enhance our career progression in the times we are in.

Just some few historical findings on careers in aviation.

Back in the 1950’s, the airlines, in wanting to make flying glamourous promoted young attractive females as ‘air hostess’ or ‘air stewardess.’ They expected extremely high standards of grooming and presentation. Air stewardesses had to leave their careers once they married or had children. They could even lose their jobs if they put on weight and had to retire around the age of 30.

In the 1960’s, the image of the air hostess was changing; they had to be fresh and sexy. This was a period where the uniform consisted of short miniskirts and ‘hot pants’ and reflected the fashion of the time.

In the 1970’s, waves of change were evident with women’s rights, civil rights and cases of discrimination being taken to court. It became illegal for the airlines to discriminate against staff on the basis of gender, race, age or marital status and male crew started to enter the profession. The term air hostess was phased out in the United States and was replaced with flight attendant to reflect a non-gender-specific role.

Sometimes change is subtle, other times it is too obvious! We have come a long way, haven’t we?  Below, my recollections of paper airplanes. Do you? Again, childhood days!

Did you ever attempt making paper airplanes as a child? Did you go beyond making them to playing the paper airplane game, hoping that yours will fly the furthest? So how come you never considered a career in this area?

This leads us directly to where we left off in our previous discussion with my Guest where we had a summary of educational requirements for some aviation job positions. In this discussion, Madam Gloria Wilkinson Mensah draws our attention to job positions/careers linked to aircrafts and airport operations.

Host: First of all, what comments would you like to make on the historical findings described above?

Guest: To remain relevant in one’s occupation, it is important to be proactive by keeping abreast with  evolving trends .The life cycle of most or I dare say every career keeps evolving with time and we should be cognizant of the constant changes and be ready to adapt in due time.

Host: Absolutely true. You were yet to talk about careers in aircraft manufacturing and maintenance in the previous discussion. First, who are involved in these activities?

Guest:Aircraft manufacturing companies are globally certified to design and build jet aircraft models that are best fit for long, medium and short haul distance range. They supply aircrafts to airlines according to order and tailored specifications. The well known and most utilized brands in commercial aviation are Airbus, Boeing and Embraer.

Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MROs) are qualified and certified entities that perform routine checks and maintenance, repair and overhaul for aircrafts for serviceability. Notably, MROs provide heavy periodic and scheduled maintenance involving replacement or overhaul of aircraft parts for safety compliance and required by regulation.

Host: Career opportunities in these areas must require high levels of engineering. Are there Ghanaians with expertise in these areas in Ghana? It would be interesting to know about the career paths to take in these areas.

Guest: There is no MRO presence in Ghana at the moment, even the domestic carriers operating within Ghana, ferry aircrafts to South Africa or Brazil for periodic, scheduled maintenance and overhaul. But there are qualified Ghanaian Aircraft Engineers who carry out standard checks on aircraft engine, tyres , hydraulics system, fuel tanks  and sign off to dispatch an aircraft.

Host: I see. Generally, where do aircraft engineers in Ghana acquire their skills?

Guest: Mostly they train outside of the country, South Africa and Europe. Some had their initial exposure and ab initio training through the defunct Ghana Airways.

Host: An airport is not only a place for a group of aircraft taking off and landing on a runway.  Tell us a bit more about airport operations and management.

Guest: Airport operations and management is one of the main customer touch points in commercial aviation responsible for delivering customer experience in the area of passenger and baggage check- in and flight boarding in a safe and secured manner for on-time departure. Airport operations also manage contractual service level agreements with third party agencies providing support services to the passenger and baggage handling function.

Host: So how would you explain ground operations, airside operations, billing and invoicing, and information management operations? For each functional area, what are the entry-level jobs and what are the career opportunities?

Guest: (explanations to each follows)

  • Ground operations: This refers to the coordinated processes and services rendered while an aircraft is on the ramp in preparation for a safe and on -time departure. It involves the loading of baggage and cargo into Unit Load Device (ULD) and pallets into aircraft belly space, loading of inflight catering with equipment on board, fueling of aircraft and boarding of passengers prior to take off. They are usually managed and discharged by 3rd party ground handling companies under contractual and service-level agreements with airlines.
  • Airside operations: This involves skilled workforce managing a range of procedures for safe movement of aircrafts and efficient flow of air traffic from ramp to taxiway and runway during take offs and landings. Usually airside operation is managed and executed by the Civil Aviation Authority.
  • Billing and invoicing/accounts: Activities here involve raising invoices /fees for services an airport provides to airlines, e.g. airport office rent, parking and landing fees, navigation and airport passenger taxes. It is managed by airport companies.
  • Information management areas: This refers to the back office. IT systems for mining and organizing passenger and flight data to inform decisions related to efficiency, safety and profitability.  MIS is an enabler for commercial airlines to efficiently  track and effectively manage  areas like aircraft spare parts  inventory  and supplies , customer behavior and interactions , flight performance  monitoring , crew rostering , aircraft maintenance schedule and records.

Entry-level jobs and career opportunities:

Ground operations: Senior High School or College Education with IATA Diploma.

See career progression in the illustration below.

Airside operations: Degree in Science with Certified Air Traffic Control Training.

Watch: Behind the scenes with the Airside Operations team  

Billing and invoicing: Higher National Diploma (HND) Accounting and Finance.

Information management areas: Degree in Information Technology and or Statistics may be an added advantage.

Host: Correct me if I am wrong. Do I assume that to get employment in any of these areas you apply to ground handling companies for ground operations jobs, Civil Aviation Authority for airside operations, airport companies for billing and invoicing and airlines for information management?

Guest:Yes precisely. However, Billing and Invoicing could also be an opportunity in all areas since they render some form of service to the Airlines and raise invoices.

Source: Career

SUCH A WEALTH OF CAREER OPPORTUNITIES! Don’t miss the last part of our conversation next week.

You may also like

1 comment

Emmanuel Frimpong May 16, 2024 - 9:54 am

Beautiful piece of work


Leave a Comment