Earning their wings around the globe
UW professor’s new book highlighting careers in aviation to be launched Sunday at airport in Breslau
SEEING BOTH GROWTH AND a shortage of workers, the aviation industry offers up a plethora of career opportunities, says the author of a new book that will be launched Sunday in Breslau.
Suzanne Kearns, a professor of Geography and Aviation at the University of Waterloo, will be launching Fundamentals of International Aviation at the hanger in the Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre on April 8.
Kearns has a deeprooted history with aviation. Having began flying at the young age of 15, her love for planes and helicopters has taken herfrom helicopter college in North Bay to pursuing her degree and a master’s in the States, before returning home to teach her first university course in aviation at Western University all before she was 24 years of age.
Since then she has taught for more than a decade at Western as well as the University of Waterloo, while also writing and publishing three books prior to this latest venture.
Two-and-a-half years in the making, the Fundamentals of International Aviation opens up readers to the many and varied careers in aviation. The shortage of aviation professionals propelled her to write the book, which is designed to introduce the next generation to careers such as pilots, air traffic controllers, maintenance professionals, airline and airport management on an international scale.
“We tend to be very silo-ed, so for this book what I wanted to do is take that traditional perspective, flip it upside down and say ‘what if instead of focusing on one career in one country, we made everyone’s first introduction to aviation being this broad international perspective, profiling all of the different aviation careers?’” she explained.
Kearns sees the dropout rate from aviation-related programs – upwards of 50 per cent – as a major limiting factor in the industry’s ability to grow.
“A lot of the time, these young people love aviation, but they don’t know about other aviation jobs – they have been so focused on being a pilot they don’t realize you could be a controller or airport manager. There is this breadth to it,” she said.
Unlike other industries that may not have job opportunities, the aviation industry is begging for young professionals, she says. Kearn credits sustained growth in air travel and the retiring of experienced air industry personnel with opening the door to young entrants.
“The aviation industry is facing a global shortage of professionals, so not just pilots, but maintenance, air traffic control, airport managers, everybody in between,” she said. “We are looking at ways to encourage more young people to choose aviation careers and once they have chosen, to try to retain those people within aviation, so that’s what a lot of this grew from.”
A large gender gap in the industry doesn’t help matters, she notes
“A big part of it is the lack of women in aviation, that unfortunately on a global scale only about five per cent of airline pilots are female. So we always say, if only we could equal out the gender imbalance we wouldn’t have pilot shortage anymore,” she said. “Young students are going to be at the book launch greeting people and answering questions – they are part of the Women in Aviation chapter here, so I think it’s important that young people understand that it’s not just a male career. We need all the men we can get, but we also need all of the women we can get.”
The author said the book launch is a great opportunity for aviation enthusiasts, as there will be many industry people to speak with and listen to during the afternoon. Kearns will also be doing a short talk about the book during the launch, as well as doing signings.
The event is open to the public and will include light refreshments, door prizes, a presentation and Q&A with the author, and discounted copies of the book available for purchase. The launch and book signing for Fundamentals of International Aviation, will be happening on Sunday April 8, from 1-3 p.m. at the Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre in Breslau.
Dr. Suzanne Kearns will be showcasing her new book, Fundamentals of International Aviation at the hanger in the Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre on Sunday afternoon.