AVIATION INTERVIEW WITH DR NOORLINAH G MOHD
Director of Malaysia Aviation Academy (MAvA)
Dr Noorlinah G Mohd, a geology honours degree holder from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, stumbled into aviation 32 years ago. She never imagined this career pathwould become her passion. As a regulator for this industry in her capacity as an inspectorate officer before, she understands the training requirements when it comes to churning out the country’s supply of air traffic controllers (ATCs).
MAvA is Malaysia’s most important entity for training competent ATCs and ultimately ensuring the safety of Malaysian skies. How did it reach its current level since its establishment?
MAvA’s humble beginnings as a training centre dates back to the 1960s when direct on-the-job training of new controllers was no longer practicable. Malaysia’s earliest civil aviation training centre in Subang was known as Civil Aviation College (CAC) in 1981. Malaysia Technical Cooperation Programme (MTCP) trainees have been attending courses since then at CAC whose four wooden blocks linked to each other became known as “Kolej Kayu”.
Around 1996, CAC operated a “side campus” in Taman SEA, Petaling Jaya to accommodate a large number of trainings in preparation for the opening of the KL International Airport and the restructuring of the airspace. CAC’s wooden building operated until circa 2004 when concerns for health and safety forced the Department of Civil Aviation, now called the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) to temporarily move the training of ATCs to the Air Traffic Control Centre Complex.
MAvA started operations at this present location in 2009, providing training to local and international participants. Its expansion has always been associated with the density of airspace usage, number of air traffic and complexity of airspace structure.
MAvA primarily caters to CAAM’s human resources’ (HR) demand but when slots are available, it offers courses to international trainees as well. Since 2009 to 2018, it has conducted 359 training courses participated by 4,357 Malaysians and 316 foreigners from 80 countries, including those from the ASEAN region, Asia, the Middle East and South Africa.
MAvA officially became an International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) TRAINAIR PLUS Associate Member in 2015 and was awarded full membership in 2016. Please share how MAvA attained that position and what it means to be a TRAINAIR PLUS member.
The process to be enlisted as an ICAO TRAINAIR PLUS programme member is stringent given that it is evaluated by qualified TRAINAIR assessors. During the assessment, we need to show MAvA’s capabilities on HR, its training and office facilities, quality management system, record keeping, examination procedures and administrative processes.
The membership fee is renewable every three years with a recurring audit and a renewal fee. MAvA was awarded full membership when we successfully developed a Standardised Training Package (STP).
TRAINAIR PLUS Members have access to TRAINAIR STPs which could be hosted or conducted in their premises by qualified instructors. MAvA runs three home-developed and TRAINAIR certified STPs for CAAM and foreign participants. The hosting of such training courses and selling of STPs are great opportunities for us to generate revenue as well.
What are your views on the current quality of ATC training offered by MAvA? How do you plan to improve MAvA?
MAvA is well-respected. It offers training at a reasonable price in comfortable and friendly environment conducted by qualified and experienced instructors using up-to-date training facilities.
I am focused on strengthening the HR, particularly the instructors’ pool so that MAvA will have the best qualified and capable trainers. The successful and efficient delivery of knowledge and skills at MAvA will significantly impact the service excellence offered by ATCs.
I will be retiring next year when I reach 60 following my transfer to MAvA on 2 January 2018. It is perhaps not long enough to see the fruits of my labour but I hope the seeds for excellence sown will continue to be nurtured by its personnel. I believe in motivating MAvA instructors, trainees and administrative personnel to not only do things right but also do the right things.
What are the pressing matters facing MAvA and how are they circumvented?
The run-down state of the 10-year old MAvA complex requires maintenance. Some of the repairs are on-going. We try to ensure the training courses are run with minimal disruptions. Since it involves cost and budget, we have prioritised the critical repairs to lessen the financial impact. With good governance and financial support from CAAM, I hope to see further improvements in the training environment.
Is the current supply of ATCs sustainable? What advice would you give to get people interested in considering this profession?
Yes, it is sustainable. According to the Air Traffic Management Division, there is no shortage of candidates each time an advertisement for ATCs is broadcasted.
The selection process is quite strict. My advice would be, ask yourself if you have the passion for aviation. It is a demanding job, stressful but exciting and rewarding as well. I have no regrets joining this field as the learning process never ends and there are opportunities to travel abroad to attend international meetings, conferences or seminars.
I encourage those who like challenges, are highly spirited and disciplined to go for it. A good command of the English language is a must. You also have to be reasonably fit as this is a licensing requirement along with the ATC Ratings.
Please tell us more about the different courses that MAvA offers.
Courses such as ab-initio or Primary ATC are attended by new intakes for the job. Trainees passing the ab-initio course will progress to the ATC course. Upon successful completion, they will qualify for appointment. Before their three-year probation ends, they need to pass another ATC course for job confirmation.
Courses like Aerodrome Control, Area Non-radar Control, Area Radar Control, Approach Non-radar Control and Approach Radar Control are also associated with ATC licensing. Other additional enhancement and enrichment courses include Search and Rescue, On-Job-Training Instructor, ATC Examiner, Performance Based Navigation and Safety Management System.