SriLankan Aviation College (SLAC), the training arm of SriLankan Airlines, is poised to offer an ultimate learning experience for aspirant youth locally and internationally to take their first step towards an exciting career in aviation, while continually contributing to the development of the industry.
With over three decades of experience in training aviation professionals to fulfill the national career’s manpower needs, SLAC brings in tailor-made internationally-recognised training programs to suit the dynamics of the industry, state-of-the art classrooms, extensive on-the-job training and experienced panel of instructors; where the academy hopes to empower future generations, and contribute significantly to the growth of the economy.
SLAC last week hosted a media tour to provide an insight into the academy, its wide array of facilities, programs and future plans.
Speaking at the event SLAC General Manager Primal De Silva highlighted the important role the academy play within the company and nationally.
“Being a part of the national carrier; the SLAC provides a specialised education in diversified range of professional programs that will empower students to thrive in the lucrative aviation industry from anywhere in the world,” he added.
According to him, the academy has 600 students at any given point and has two intakes per year in March and September. A batch includes 84 students, out of which 50% are foreign students that brings in a considerable amount of foreign exchange to the economy.
SLAC (www.srilankanaviationcollege.com) was formed in 2013 bringing together more than three decades of experience of the National Carrier in all aspects of aviation training. Located at Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake, it provides a wide range of programs through its six faculties – Travel & Tourism; Airport Services; Cargo & Dangerous Goods Regulations; Image Consultancy; Aircraft Maintenance Avionics; and Aircraft Maintenance Mechanicals.
In addition to the already accredited international bodies such as IATA, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA); it also gained global recognition in 2015 when it was granted associate membership in the prestigious TRAINAIR PLUS program of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). SLAC is also certified by the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka, Oman, Pakistan, Maldives and the European Safety Agency; SriLankan Technical Training has an excellent track record in delivering trained professionals to suit the industry needs.
Since its inception, the SLAC has forayed into many avenues and the college is the only EASA part 147 certified training centre that provides training to both local and overseas students. However, its portfolio has now been extended to include EASA B1.1, B2 programs to CAT A1 and foundation programs. The technical institute has witnessed a steady flow of foreign students as well. SLAC is the only institution that has ISO 29990 certification for non-formal education in the country.
Keeping abreast with counterparts abroad, the institute has introduced value additions such as internships and practical training opportunities for the students of SLAC.
It was revealed that SLAC will tie up with the University of Kingston UK and University of Swinburne Australia to offer BsC in Aircraft Maintenance and Aircraft Management degrees full-time and part time in 2018. He said in addition to the foreign students demand for these subjects, it would help the staff of SriLankan Airlines.
At present SLAC has invested around Rs.65 million on an enhanced training facility at Katunayake further expand its facilities which would be ready for operations by July.
Furthermore, the college has great expectations to set up a national University for aviation education in Mattala with an investment of over Rs.1 billion for which the SriLankan Airlines has recognised that SLAC has the capacity to expand on its own.
De Silva said that they initially would like to start the facility with aircraft maintenance and engineering services and have already presented its proposal to few of the local banks.
“We have great plans to move there, to be recognised as a regional hub aviation specialised in training programs and degrees. There will be great scope for aircraft maintenance, repairs and operations (MRO) in Mattala once the airport is opened for operations. The proposal for this escalated campus is in blue print,” he added.
SLAC provides a two year EASA aircraft maintenance course for an affordable cost of $12,000 for local students, while for foreign students it is $25,000. The closest competitor provides the same course for $54,000 hence he emphasised that it was pretty affordable for both local and foreign students in the region to continue their aviation education at SLAC, which is highly recognised for its quality training programs.
He asserted that the area of aviation is neglected in the eyes of the public as the opportunities in the country may look limited given the fact that there is only one international airline at the moment but said that there are many opportunities internationally.
“The demand for professionally qualified aviation industry personnel is high across the globe, especially in the Middle Eastern region, with the emergence of many commercially successful carriers Sri Lanka as a country that has been a prime labour supplier to the region now have the opportunity to enhance our quality manpower exports, thereby exploring new avenues in foreign employment,” he noted.
Noting that the only two missing standards SLAC has are Australian CASA and FSA American Standards which come with a cost and there has not been a major necessity to obtain them, he said they were now considering it given the growing migrant community to Australia.
“SLAC is now planning to obtain the Australian standards to support the migrant community,” De Silva added.
Speaking on expansion plans SLAC Deputy General Manager Marketing and Business Promotions Buddhika Hewawasam said that they intend to introduce aviation as a subject to the school curriculum by 2020.
Going beyond the classroom, he said the SLAC provides career guidance to youth in rural areas and has conducted image consultancy programs for students of the Universities of Colombo, Sabaragamuwa and Rajarata. These programs are aimed at boosting their confidence and building positive attitudes among those who wish to enter the aviation industry.
SLAC recently launched a travel and tourism program with University of Colombo and they believe to further expand their tie ups with local University system to attract the qualified professionals for the aviation sector.
Following the successful first franchise centre opened in Galle which completed three satisfying training programs thus far, SLAC is now planning to open up two more franchise operations in Batticoloa and Jaffna during this year. In addition, the College will open up two international franchise operations in Pakistan and Seychelles this year. There is already an international franchise in Maldives.
It has also enhanced its reach to school aviation clubs and conduct awareness programs with a view of encouraging children from young age across the country to step into the dynamic aviation industry with the right skills, knowledge and attitude. Over 600 school aviation clubs have been set up with the assistance of Civil Aviation Authority at the moment.
With its global reputation as being a quality training ground, SLAC aims to become the hub of high quality professional aviation training in Sri Lanka and the region.
By: Charumini de Silva | ft.lk