We recently spoke with Abul Fozol Muhammad Ekram a Logistics Engineering Controller who kindly shared an overview of what he does on an average day, career highlights, and his hopes for the future of aviation.
Why did you choose to pursue an aviation career?
Aviation was my destiny. I graduated from the University of Greenwich with a BA (Hons) in Criminology, the course covered wide-ranging topics including, sociology, psychology and the criminal justice system. I became a graduate (in 2012) during the Great Recession and this fundamentally affected the labour market, making job opportunities scarce.
Nonetheless, after two years I managed to secure a job as Travel Sales Consultant for a local travel agent and this signalled the start of my journey towards the Aviation industry. I did not have any knowledge of the industry, I quickly applied myself in tasks and learned how to use Amedues and Sabre flight booking systems.
Through these systems, I built holiday packages from British Airways and sold them to customers and this assisted me in posing the query of why I don’t work for an airline. This was the start of my journey towards working for British Airways. April 2015- when I landed a job as a Cargo Specialist for British Airways at London Heathrow Airport.
I revelled in the high-pressure and paced environment, whilst preparing and securing cargo for air travel. Although the job came with its challenges, my passion for Aviation grew during these four years working for the industry as I was aware of the impact that my job would have on customers and the economy. Finally, I am now working at London City Airport for BA Cityflyer, which is a subsidiary of British Airways.
Since 2019, I’ve enjoyed working in the airport, witnessing the unique aircrafts up-close. I chose to stay within Aviation because I have the ability to work behind the scenes, making sure that the logistics of flights are in order which gives me satisfaction. My line of work makes a difference to the company, customers, and the economy. Plus, I enjoy watching aircrafts make steep take-offs and landings too!
What has been a highlight of your career so far?
The year 2019 was a highlight of my career so far. I came into BA Cityfler with a forward-thinking mind. Despite not having any previous experience in managing effective engineering bonded stores, I have achieved all the objectives that my line supervisor set for the year and prioritised my workload very well.
I have ensured the supply chain flow of essential aircraft spares and equipment, to support BA Cityflyer’s fleet of Embraer 170/ 190 aircraft through the operating network. The job requires the ability to be attentive to urgent tasks such as completing major line stores moves and set-ups just before the COVID pandemic, which have allowed my skillset to develop.
Furthermore, I have always been inclined to work extra hours and additional days for the support of the BACF engineers’ operations. Throughout my time, I continued working after my shift had finished and ensured that tasks were completed. Whether this was vital AOG parts to be loaded onto our aircraft to be sent to the outstations or waiting for crucial AOG orders to be collected and booked in.
My eagerness to learn and adapt has helped me to achieve my objectives that were set at the start of the year Additionally, I believe my willingness to assist the department this year was pivotal in the running of successful day-to-day operations.
Have you faced any challenges throughout your career?
Naturally, the COVID pandemic was the biggest challenge for everyone in the Aviation industry. Although the pandemic hit the industry hard, I still have been fortunate enough to keep my job. Mental health is pivotal and supporting any initiative at work or in public is important to me. It can affect everyone and at any time.
The pandemic brought it to the light more than ever – worrying about job security is always top on the agenda. We all love what we do but seeing so many aircrafts grounded and not flying was a shock to the system.
While at work, on every occasion I have made sure the business operation came first. Even when working alone due to teammates being on furlough, I managed both LCY Line and Main stores, ensuring their compliance. I have played an exceptional role whilst we had reduced staff for 7 months (FEB 2020 to SEP 2020), ensuring that the engineering teams, along with other departments were supported.
We started the year by preparing for and completing the Main Stores move, I worked extra hours to assist with the move in late February 2020. We then went straight into the pandemic, with some fairly rapid changes to shift patterns, followed by the introduction of the furlough scheme.
I stayed working the whole summer alongside my supervisor, helping to support the company through the operational shutdown. The year continued to be uncertain, but I have continued to work well despite the uncertainty and I am a vital member of the team!
Give us an overview of what you do on an average day?
- 7:00am – I start my day by logging into the workstation and loading all the systems. Then I check through all the emails. I then flag certain tasks that are high priority, such as, the AOG/Urgent tasks. I am old fashion I love a good old pen and paper to-do list. Nothing beats that! I plan my day so I know what tasks need doing and when by- planning is key for a good day.
- 9:15am – I check if there are any parts that need taking to the line stores that are showing as shortages. I then begin to examine engineering work packs and see what spares are required. I follow up on any spares we do not have yet with head office. I convey this information to the engineers and keep them in the loop so they can plan. It’s all about being proactive and working as a team when working at a line engineering station. I would process any repairs of unserviceable parts to be shipped to their repair stations and send any tooling away for calibration.
- 10:35am – By this time I would have had any spare parts, for scheduled or unscheduled maintenance, delivered at the Engineering Main Stores. I would make sure the order was correct, I would visually inspect the part and make sure if it’s rotable that the Part Number and Serial Number match the order. I then ensure that all airworthiness documentation and trace paperwork is legible and in the correct format. It is vital to check the part is of a genuine article and not in any damage. Once I’m happy I will accept and book into the system correctly and give it its very own batch number with a serviceable label with my certifying acceptance stamp. The airworthiness certificate is significant and it has to be provided with the part with the correct details on it. We can have anything come in, from small washers and screws to aircraft emergency escape slides and Radomes. I ensure that I have everything to take to the line.
- 12:00pm – By this time I have driven from our offsite offices to our Engineering Lines Stores at the Airport and been through airport security. I would make sure all the spares that are planned for the day or night shift are correctly preloaded to their aircraft registration trays or if it’s big parts then they will be preloaded in a bulk. Then I think it’s time for lunch, I’m starving!
- 1:00pm – I log into my workstation and check on emails, action and follow up on requests. It’s all about making sure you stay on top of things. I would then check what rotable or consumable parts have been issued to what aircraft and process it on the MRO system. It’s crucial we update and record these details as it keeps everything in check. Then I would inspect all the unserviceable parts that have been removed from the aircraft, making sure the unserviceable label details are correctly filled in. I will then process this on the MRO system and ensure that the repair teams are aware so they can do their bit. It’s all about teamwork!
- 2:00pm – by this time all the unserviceable parts have been processed. I check through all our shelf-life expiry parts, to ensure that I remove any consumables, be it adhesives or paint sticks do not stay in stock. It’s vital that we stick to the strict shelf life given by the manufacturer and also stated on the Certificate of Conformity so it’s adequate for its intended use. I remove them and process them on the MRO systems and dispose of it using a waste disposal process. I also check any tooling that needs to be sent away for calibration so I remove it from stock and ship it to the correct repair station for calibration and inspection. I also make sure that we have replacements for when we remove tooling so our engineers always have another for their tasks.
- 3:00pm – I would make sure that all pick requisitions for certain aircraft are picked and are allocated for the right aircraft registration. Making sure they are preloaded correctly so our engineers can find and use them. Making sure all the correct paperwork is it is very important. Sometimes we have AOG pick request which a prioritised. If it’s required for an aircraft for the line stores or needs to be taken back to the Main Stores to be shipped to an outstation, we make sure we see it through.
- 5:00pm – I check through the engineering work packs for any revisions. Making sure that all spares are preloaded and the engineers have everything they need in order for them to complete their task. Always double-check! If you’re not sure then ask! I liaise with the engineers and or Head Office to make sure if there are any spares due in and follow up. Once I am satisfied, I can return to the Main Engineering Office. It’s always good to make sure the engineers are happy and have everything they need and go through the work packs. Remember – teamwork makes the dream work!
- 5:30pm – I ensure that all work areas are tidy before I leave. Load up my van and secure all parts for transport to the Engineering Main Stores. Once I have arrived back at my other office I would then quarantine and lock all unserviceable parts in a cage to be processed for shipping to the respective repair stations once the repairs team has processed them. I would usually process them for shipping the next morning.
- 6:00pm – By this time I would go through all my emails and flag up anything that needs doing first thing the next morning. Speak with all other teams if needed. I would be planning for the next day at work so I know exactly what to do! In this line of job, it’s all about planning and using your own initiative. If I was not on shift the next day, I would write up a lovely handover email to my colleague on shift the next day. Communication is vital in this role, if everyone is in the loop things run smoothly. Then I think it’s home time, don’t you? A good day’s work, I think!
What are your goals and plans for the future?
In the future I see myself in a supervisory position. I thrive on challenges and enjoy working on projects. I see myself in the aviation sector for a very long time, it’s been good to me and is certainly an enjoyable experience. I believe I have so much left to give. I have many transferable skills that can be applied in every scenario and one of my biggest life goals is to teach and assist others to be a better version of themselves.
I would love to mentor peers. I love working with people- people make a workforce! I want to build on my experience and I believe aviation and aerospace has a lot to offer. My academic background was not in aviation but here I am, and that’s something!
It goes to show if you have passion and drive you can go anywhere in aviation – the skies the limit!
What are your hopes for the future of the aviation industry?
Although there have been initiatives to increase representation within STEM occupations and Aviation, there still needs to be a lot more work done to ensure credible and persistent accessibility to these industries.
Separately, I believe the aviation industry has always thrived and will do again, even with the pandemic it will bounce back. We can already see it happening, we just have to remain positive and hopeful. The aviation industry is lucrative and an exciting place to be in. There are so many technological advancements, lots of new developments and great aircrafts being built. The future will most definitely be greener and more sustainable.
Moreover, another thing close to my heart is Space. Its looking so exciting right about now. Aerospace and aviation go hand in hand, just watch the space, we have exciting times ahead I’m sure of it! Everyone must stick together as an industry and support each other. That’s the key, together we can make the uncertain be certain and the impossible become possible!
What is one thing you would like to have known before starting your career?
Having worked in aircraft engineering and dealing with so many parts, consumables and tooling. I would not have known their names or uses due to my academic background. Every day I get to handle delicate instruments and materials. Everything I deal with is high value and of sensitive material.
I learned many technical terminologies which I would have not known prior to working in Engineering. It’s an absolute privilege and a really exciting environment to work in!