RIYADH: Riyadh-based Al-Salam Aircraft Co., will soon transform its training center into a business-oriented academy to train Saudi nationals in aircraft mechanics, said Mohammad N. Fallatah, President and CEO of Al-Salam Aircraft Co.
Al-Salam has been offering licensed training program to Saudis based on Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a component of the US Department of Transportation that sets standards for the air-worthiness of all civilian aircraft, inspects and licenses them, European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), Saudi Arabia, said Fallatah.
“Currently we are producing about 50 highly trained Saudis in aircraft mechanics every year from our training facility established in 2001. However, the feasibility study has been completed to transform our training institute into a full-fledged academy, which will serve as a business unit for the company,” he said.
Fallatah was speaking to a select gathering of newsmen invited to take a tour of the only facility in the Middle East specialized in the overhaul and maintenance of all types and makes of airplanes, especially Boeing 747 aircraft.
The proposed academy will be exclusively for Saudi nationals and offer training in various areas of aircraft mechanics, who come from various universities, College of Technology and other technical colleges in the Kingdom, he said.
Al-Salam has a workforce of about 1,000 employees and the company has achieved 54 percent Saudization in various technical and highly skillful jobs, he said.
“Since Al-Salam is expanding its business the company will have the capacity to absorb most of the trained graduates coming out from the proposed academy,” said Fallatah.
Private aviation is the fastest growing segment in Saudi Arabia and the outlook for industry is quite bright, he said.“Saudi Arabia’s private aviation is the fastest growing and biggest in the Middle East with over 400 aircraft privately-owned airplanes of different makes and sizes. This is an area for Al-Salam Aircraft Co., to go for refurbishment and maintenance of privately-owned VIP aircraft,” said Al-Fallatah.
Al-Salam’s state-of-the-art academy will offer Saudi nationals to take aircraft mechanics as a career since the Kingdom has tremendous scope for more number of commercial airlines.
This is evident from shortage of passenger seats in airlines currently operating in the Kingdom, he said, adding that there is not enough volume to meet growing passengers’ demand.
“The long waiting list for passengers willing to travel from one Saudi city to another is indicative of shortage of airline seats,” he said. Saudi Arabia is required to issue more licenses to private companies that could meet the growing demand for commercial airlines, he said. “We need more number of airlines in the Kingdom that can cater to the growing needs of air passengers and to do this we need more airplanes,” said Fallatah.
Al-Salam has posted a revenue of SR850 million this year “and our target is to reach SR1 billion by 2011. We are optimistic to reach at our target,” he said.
The invited media persons were taken on a tour of Al-Salam facility spread over 600,000 sqm and have three hangers with F15 jet fighters aircraft from Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF), Saudi Arabian Airlines cargo plane, C-130 and a number of privately-owned aircraft and others from international commercial airlines were undergoing repair and renovation works. He said Al-Salam has already entered a new phase of manufacturing of aircraft spare parts, specially for the old airplanes that comprised of big chunk of Middle East aviation market. “Very soon we hope to start producing spare parts for brand new aircraft for which Al-Salam has already got licenses from the manufacturing companies,” he said without elaborating the names.
— Saudi Gazette