Captain Nadhem AlHamad is the General Manager and accountable person of Alpha Aviation Academy, the UAE based academy, located at Sharjah International Airport. He is a keen advocate for learning with a craving for helping others to develop through training. I met with him to discuss his interests and to expand on the Academy’s profile and activities. During the interview, he talked widely about his career as well as remembering Alpha Aviation Academy’s track and growth since opening in 2008.
Captain Nadhem, originally comes from Bahrain yet, by now well established in UAE where he lives permanently. Other than the Arabic language, he has fluency in English with a rather very welcoming pronunciation on his tone. Considering my own background as I reside in Scotland, I liked the odd Scottish word that the Captain mentioned during our discussions. In fact, Captain Nadhem recalled fondly his days in Scotland where he studied Aeronautical Studies at British Aerospace Flying College, Prestwick. Having said that, his academic and professional qualifications extend further. His accomplishments consist of the Airline Transport Pilot’s License, a Management Diploma from the American University of Sharjah and is fully qualified as examiner and instructor (TRE) on the A320 aircraft.
A number of interesting responsibilities
I asked Captain Nadhem to describe his employment history and career path. “I started in aviation as a cabin crew in-flight services in 1992 for 6-7 months. Following that, I started my piloting/flying career. I studied in Scotland, where I studied Aeronautical Studies, and after completion, I joined Gulf Air and stayed with them for considerable time” he says. Following this period, he joined Air Arabia in 2003 as part of the initial start-up team. “Since then, I have been involved in many notable projects with Air Arabia, from starting up hubs to establishing airlines including one in Jordan. Furthermore, I maintain the current Airbus 320 as an instructor and examiner” he continued. “Finally, for the last three years, I’ve been leading Air Arabia’s training arm, Alpha Aviation Academy, located in Sharjah and ensured to maintain my flying currency” he explains.
I wanted to find out more about his current role and responsibilities. “As the General Manager and Accountable Manager for the GCAA in the UAE, my primary role is to develop the business from all perspectives. Ensure that the brand is growing; the number of products we offer increases and ultimately make sure our customers are happy” he stated ardently.
Sensing that he is passionate about aviation, my questions to Captain Nadhem focused on this topic. “I have always had a passion for the aviation industry and always dreamt to become a pilot some day. I loved maths and physics from a young age and was good at it. Furthermore, my brother was a cabin crew and seeing what he does raised my interest in the field. I was genuinely fascinated by aircraft, their components, functioning and so on,” he says. Captain Nadhem continued: “Moreover, I have a keen interest in aviation because it is the opportunity I saw to teach others. I have a passion and love for teaching, training and developing others. The concept of educating others is bright within the aviation industry, which also led me to be a Type-Rating Examiner. Teaching and enabling the younger generation who are the future is an important task and one that I dearly treasure.”
Big ambitions for Alpha Aviation Academy
What is the most challenging part of your job, I asked him directly. “I am a very “glass half-full” minded person. I always look to the future and try to be optimistic even in times of hardship. Therefore, interacting or working with other people who may have more of a negative mind-set and cannot find the light on a rainy day, those people are challenging for me to communicate with since those two traits; optimism and pessimism, are on such opposite ends of the spectrum. I believe that we can always find ways to influence them and shift their outlook and perspective,” he explained.
This point intrigued me. I realise from his responses that he takes his work seriously and is a proficient individual. Therefore, I wanted to hear about any professional ambitions and aspirations. He stated, “I want Alpha to go international, be the catalyst of change through dynamic training techniques and tools that will lead to the best aviation school in the world. To have the best cadets graduate and become pilots with our partner airline Air Arabia, pass down the legacy and wisdom, continuously enhance our crafts through teaching and growth,” he clarified to me.
Speaking so emphatically about Alpha Aviation Academy, led me to enquire more about the organization. The company was founded in 2008 and has been operating since. The team concentrates on pilot training and is also approved by the GCAA as an examination centre. Captain Nadhem enlightened me more. “At the start, the Academy offered only one product, the MPL, for ten years successfully. The Academy started its first batch in 2009 with 9 cadets and 10 staff members. These numbers have successfully increased to 14 and 33 respectively. In 2020, we have started introducing, aside of MPL, ELP, Wilco (software systems), A320 Type-Rating – revalidation, renewal, initial, CCQ (A380 to A320), A330/340 to A320, foreign license conversion to adapt to the changing needs of pilots” he revealed.
We need flexible regulations to adapt to changes quickly
Considering that air transport is currently in a grave position following events in the past year, I asked Captain Nadhem, if he would like to change anything and why? “One aspect I would change in the Aviation Industry are the Regulation Reviews,” he commented. “Of course, one must acknowledge that regulations are set in place to help Aviation Academies be within the best practices that are up to standard and improve the organization within the industry. However, with the introduction of many new activities, the swift shifts in technology, and the current pandemic, there need to be fast-changing and flexible regulations that can adapt to these changes and unforeseeable situations. In general, regulations do not respond to changes as quickly as required. The market is constantly moving and volatile, and those regulations need to be adapted accordingly in a time-efficient manner. This goes without saying that we are fortunate to be in the UAE where it is evident to see that the GCAA is quite flexible to ensure Aviation activities are continuous and safe,” he concluded.
Meeting an industry professional with the commitment and enthusiasm of Captain Nadhem AlHamad, to me was an immense pleasure. In his appetite to support others to progress and in his desire to help the sector recover, I see the dynamism of the aviation industry. In my opinion, this is undoubtedly one of aviation’s strengths, a workforce full of devoted individuals. Captain Nadhem belongs in this group of professionals. Furthermore, I share with him most of his values and ethos as he applies these on his work. This resemblance makes me understand better his reasons for trying eagerly to make Alpha Aviation Academy a positive contributor who supports the recovery of the aviation industry. However, even more than this, now I realize his efforts to help his organization to produce a new generation of quality pilots.