Earn­ing their wings around the globe

UW pro­fes­sor’s new book high­light­ing ca­reers in avi­a­tion to be launched Sun­day at air­port in Breslau

The Woolwich Observer - - NEWS - ALI WIL­SON

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.

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