‘Without my amazing team I’d be grounded’
Laila Hassim is pool manager: aeronautical information management at Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS)
By MARGARET HARRIS
Arena Holdings PTY
What does your job as pool manager: aeronautical information management entail? One of the most vital roles in air traffic management (ATM) is aeronautical information management (AIM). Within air traffic and navigation services (ATNS), the aeronautical information (AI) department resides under the air traffic services (ATS) umbrella. According to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), AIM is responsible for receiving, collating, editing, formatting, publishing and distributing aeronautical data, and ensuring the flow of information necessary for the safety, regularity and efficiency of international air navigation. To ensure consistent, high-quality and timely information, ATM and ATS rely hugely on AIM to be the authoritative source of aeronautical information. As such, AIM must manage, monitor and control the information chain. Our AIM officers and AI personnel have a vital role to play in the future of aviation. Safety begins with us. As the pool manager of the AIM unit in ATNS, I am responsible for managing and directing the planning, development and implementation of operational AIM and communications within South Africa and the region. In addition, I am responsible for managing AIM staff, including their training and development. I am nothing without the amazing team of principals and AIM officers who, through their hard work and dedication, continue to impress me. We ensure our AIM operations are sufficient for the requirements of the aviation community and that the AIM unit complies with ICAO, the South African Civil Aviation Authority and ATNS policies and procedures. What drew you to the aviation industry? A passion and love for aviation, as well as the opportunities offered by ATNS. I also love flying and can spend hours just observing aircraft landing and departing. What are some of the main challenges facing your industry? Covid-19 has left a bad taste for all industries, especially aviation. Recovery takes time and patience is needed. I do believe this recovery is inevitable, as it is still the safest and most efficient means of travel. What do you think makes you good at your job? The members of my team, from my manager to my employees, all contribute to the success of the department. Support from our business partners and higher management, including the CEO, as well as clear guidelines in our policies and procedures, all contribute to this success. Our mission and goals are clear, and we all strive to work towards it. Continuous learning is also a major contributing factor to continuously improving in my role. What did you want to be as a child? Going to the Pretoria show as a child and seeing the military aircraft models, watching series such as Airwolf and movies like Top Gun, as well as the 1980s arcade games, all contributed to my love for aviation. I always wanted to be a fighter pilot. What advice do you have for young people wanting to join the aviation industry? This industry is hugely passion-driven. So, one should preferably have a passion for aviation, a passion for continuous learning and a passion for continuous development — for yourself and your career. In addition, being responsible and accountable is important as any decisions made can have major impacts.