Aircraft maintenance engineer Adeeba shares advice for the next generation
Adeeba Ghazal is an experienced aircraft maintenance engineer with an impressive range of skills that spans the MRO industry.
Licensed for several Airbus, Bombardier, and Learjet planes, Pakistani-based Adeeba also holds a leading role at the Association for Women in Aviation Maintenance (AWAM) - Pakistan Chapter, where she is an advocate for the role of women across the aircraft maintenance sector.
Today, on Aviation Maintenance Technician Day, the AeroTime Global Executive Committee has named Adeeba a recipient of the AeroTime Aviation Achievement Award in recognition of her dedication and commitment to the sector, and for helping to promote diversity and inclusion in the aviation maintenance field.
Adeeba has also been recognized for her contribution to the MRO field as the recipient of an Aviation Pros AMT Next Gen 40 Under 40 Award.
While Adeeba has spent many years as an aircraft maintenance professional, she is also aware of how complicated and challenging it can be for the younger generation to pursue aircraft maintenance as a career.
Gender-based social pressures, double standards, and systemic barriers
Having grown up in a technically minded family, Adeeba has been interested in airplane engines, airframes, airframe systems, and electrical and instrumental systems since a young age.
However, Adeeba was still aware of how gender-based social pressures, double standards, and systemic barriers can too often deter women from a career in aviation.
But Adeeba was fearless. “I was not letting nobody stop me,” she recalls.
In 2017, Adeeba joined a local airline, where her duties as an aircraft maintenance engineer included line maintenance certification of Airbus A320 family narrow-body and A330 family wide-body planes.
But while her passion for aircraft remained resolute, Adeeba reveals that she had to work hard to prove her professionalism and skills as a female aircraft maintenance engineer in a predominantly male sector.
“Even if [employers, ed.-] hire you, they still have this thing that if there is a male and if there is a female, there will be something that females will have to prove themselves repeatedly. No matter if there is a new boss, or if there is a new manager, you will have to prove yourself. But no other male colleague must prove himself. There is this barrier to retaining women and promoting women to leadership roles,” she explains.
“There is this construct in my society that, at the end of the day, women are going to get married, and they are going to get pregnant, and they will leave the field,” she adds.
To help the younger generation who are looking to pursue a career in aircraft maintenance, Adeeba became a member of the Association for Women in Aviation Maintenance (AWAM) and in 2018 she started the Pakistan Chapter of AWAM. Her work has helped hundreds of aircraft maintenance professionals to establish a career in Pakistan’s aviation maintenance sector regardless of gender.
“At any cost, I wanted to have a group a field full of females or individuals irrespective of their genders, so that people can again actually respect other people's career choices. And nobody can say that this field is not for you. Nobody should tell any other person that this is not your suitable field,” Adeeba explains.
“We are providing equal opportunities to males and females. If we are equal opportunity providers, we will be able to consider people individually, and we will be able to have diverse workplaces, which are reproductive. So, this was my main driver behind starting the AWAM Pakistan Chapter.”
So, what crucial skills does an aircraft maintenance engineer require?
Technological advancement in the 21st century has not only improved the safety and efficiency of a plane and its related systems, but it has also changed the aircraft maintenance process.
Adeeba believes that with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, aircraft maintenance processes could soon be altered. However, despite the changes, Adeeba says that professional aircraft maintenance engineers should retain five crucial personal and interpersonal skills.
“A very necessary skill set for aircraft maintenance people is a proactive approach. If you can think proactively, you will be able to solve your task, your timely departure, so that it will be beneficial for your decision and problem-solving approach.
“Another is communication skills, because you have to tell people what you are expecting from them and what they are supposed to do. So, instead of developing leadership skills only, you should have communication skills as well as analytical ability and flexibility. Nothing goes as planned in the aviation industry. If we are doing any scheduled maintenance, something can go wrong at any time, and that is why we need flexibility, so that we can think thoroughly and think of the ways how to handle the current task.”
“And the last thing is empathy. If I can empathize with the people I am working with, I will be able to understand their problems and their productivity. And this is how we can mitigate and avoid hazards.”
Advice for the next generation
Whether you’re currently considering a career in aircraft maintenance or you’re already an established worker in the sector, Adeeba is keen to share some words of wisdom.
“No matter if you are a male or a female, this is what I usually advise to people altogether - that life has a two-point agenda. The first is clarity and the second is focus. Once you are clear about what do you want in your life, you will be able to focus on it 100% and achieve that thing. And my actual advice to the people who are willing to pursue a career in the aviation industry is not to take a ‘no’ for an answer,” she says.
“And for employers, I would like to recommend - as well as for all the seniors [in the industry] - that it is time to start accepting people as individuals. Let’s stop putting people into the boxes of gender constructs and dealing with them as per their gender and masculinity. Let’s start accepting people as their individuality. Because now is the time when we start having diverse and inclusive workplaces, so that we can be more productive.”
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