Shahid Mohsin - Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Retired)
Covid-19, the greatest challenge to aviation sector : Mr Shahid Mohsin speaks about the struggles and opportunities for the aviation sector in the 'new normal'.
The aviation industry has been the hardest-hit global industry since the very beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. By early April 2020, international flights had fallen by nearly 80 percent and domestic flights had sunk by 70 percent worldwide. While other industries have made some or the other alternative to run their revenue, the aviation industry was on a complete shutdown. Today, the aviation industry is slowly rebounding, led by domestic travel. As more aircraft return to the skies, hopes for the industry rise again. But with hopes there are challenges as everyone in this sector -airlines, airports, air navigation organisations, security agencies, support services, commercial and retail services, regulators, and travelers-are feeling the pain.
The future of the aviation sector will be shaped by customer demand and changing expectations regarding the consumer experience. In most scenarios, any “new normal” is expected to see reduced demand for business and leisure air travel. - We spoke to Mr. Shahid Mohsin, a retired Aircraft Maintenance Engineer with over 40 years of experience in inspecting and certifying aircrafts, to get some insights into the industry and know his views on the ongoing challenges. "The pandemic isn’t
going to be over soon, and it’s going to take quite some time to get to whatever the 'new normal' will look like", he states.
Mr. Mohsin started his aviation career as an apprentice mechanic gaining practical experience. He then simultaneously appeared for the AME Licence Examination conducted by DGCA to acquire the basic license in the category of Airframe and Engines after which he further gained his full-fledged type rated AME certification. It was his fascination for aircraft and desire to fly that made him work hard to achieve his goals.
While many people confuse AME with Aerospace engineering Mr. Mohsin clears out the confusion and tells us that "Aerospace engineering is very very vast and deals with research, development, design and building of aircrafts, spacecraft and rockets. While aircraft maintenance is a branch of aerospace engineering which deals with keeping these machineries airworthy and safe for flight post constructions". In his career Mr. Mohsin has worked with various aircrafts and celebrates his achievement in getting type rated on six different types of aircraft and maintained aircraft in an airworthy condition without a single failure. Looking back at his professional journey of past 40 years Mr. Mohsin shares, "There have been innumerable memorable moments over 40 years that have made my journey most satisfying. Releasing an aircraft to service after maintenance and repair, re-building of an aircraft after an accident and putting it back in service were the most gratifying moments that I enjoyed the most." As critical pillars of the aviation sector, aircraft maintenance engineers are responsible for the maintenance, control and repair of specialized aircraft instrumentation and parts. Mr. Mohsin, was responsible to conduct a routine inspection of the aircraft and give them fitness certificates for flying.
How have the pandemic lockdowns been for you? How did the changing aviation industry affect you professionally?
Covid lockdown was highly unexpected and no one was prepared for it but every crisis makes us stronger and bring some changes that lasts forever. Now it is on us to turn them into opportunities. The pandemic is changing the entire world and the aviation industry is no exception. For me there wasn’t much impact on the professional front but personally we had to make many changes to adapt to the isolation. Personally, just taking one day at a time.
Tell us about your journey as an aircraft maintenance engineer. What kind of aircrafts have you worked on in the past?
After my Higher Secondary, my fascination towards the aircrafts and flying made me do my certificate course in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering. I joined the Air Technical Training Institute and graduated with a certificate in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering. I started my aviation career as an apprentice mechanic gaining practical experience and simultaneously appeared for the AME License Examination that are conducted by DGCA for acquiring the basic license in the category of Airframe and Engines. Later on I also appeared for type certification exams for being a full-fledged type rated AME.
I have worked on a variety of aircraft, from a single engine Piper to a wide- bodied Boeing 747.
How do you decide which aircrafts are fit to fly? Are there any set parameters?
The inspections are carried out on an aircraft in accordance with the procedures laid down by the aircraft and engine manufacturer (OEM) maintenance and repair manuals. We, as Aircraft Maintenance Engineers, have to ensure that the same is followed strictly to avoid any accidents in the sky.
What is your greatest strength as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer? What has it taught you?
Patience and modesty! One of the major subjects covered during our trainings is “Human Factors” that teaches you how to keep calm and approach difficult situations that may arise when discharging your duties.
I have learned that you should always be grounded and never let success get into your head nor be deterred by failures.
Success and failures both are the part of your life, there is no one who is successful without facing failures. So be patient and do your job passionately.
With lockdown going on and off in Maharashtra, how do you keep yourself motivated and positive?
I try to keep myself as busy as possible. Since I had already retired before the pandemic, so I didn’t face any hardships on the professional front, but on the personal level, I deviated myself by solving puzzles and brain teasers. Isolation takes its toll, but it is very important to keep yourself diverted and occupied with different activities. These testing times will also pass away.
What are the challenges for the aviation industry in the new normal?
Aviation industry has seen a complete shut down so the biggest challenge will be getting up and running again. Much effort will be needed to normalise operations. Collaboration and partnerships will play a vital role in enabling aviation organisations to bounce back smoothly. Customer needs and expectations must be taken into consideration while strategically planning the road to recovery.
Do you think vaccines will bring back mass travel for the aviation industry?
No, with the new variants of COVID-19 there are new challenges ahead. Even though the vaccination programs are gaining its pace, these new variants are leading governments to increase travel restrictions. The uncertainty around how long these restrictions will last also has an impact on future travel.
What will the future of aviation look like after Covid-19?
It will be back and running, and bright again. Once the pandemic will ease and economies will begin to rebound, things will get back to normal, nature will take its own course. Moreover, the world is changing fast, and the aviation sector needs to deliberately alter itself and make a conscious effort to do business differently, from the customer experience to operations and finance.
Any message for the students who want to take up their career in aviation?
There is always light at the end of the tunnel, future is in your hands you can mold it, be determined, work hard, and rewards will come.
With vaccination campaigns taking place all over the world, people are expecting some positive signs and prospects for recovery for the aviation sector. The industry has done a good job to safely keeping the world connected during the COVID-19 crisis. But operations are far from normal and many challenges remain. As the world’s post-COVID new normal becomes clearer aviation sector will recover.
Giving out his message to our readers, Mr. Mohsin concludes "Fortune favours the bold and the brave, failure is the stepping stone to success. Be brave during adversity and humble in your success."