Published on October 11th, 2017 | by Mark Dwyer


IASA Aviation Symposium 2017

The Irish Aviation Students Association (IASA) held their third Annual Symposium today at the Crowne Plaza in Santry. The event was themed “Digital Transformation & Next Generation Workforce of Aviation Pioneers” and featured speakers from a wide spectrum of the aviation industry, both from Ireland and abroad. There were over 300 in attendance and for the first time this year, there were two conferences held simultaneously. The main event was aimed at 3rd Level Students while the other was aimed at 2nd Level Students wishing to pursue an aviation related path at third level.

Ralph James, Director Safety Regulation Division, Irish Aviation Authority

The event was opened by IASA Chairperson Bridget Corry who welcomed the first speaker, Ralph James, Director of Safety Regulation at the IAA. His address to the audience included an outline of the regulatory challenges faced by the Authority in the face of the changing pace of business as a result of digital transformation. Drones are a good example of this, the industry is moving faster than it can be regulated and the regulators have to really adapt and change to keep pace with the industry. This pace however means that there are more opportunities than ever in the Irish aviation industry, not just in flying aircraft but throughout the whole spectrum of the sector e.g. leasing, technical services, legal, finance etc.

Firoz Tarapore, CEO of DAE – Dubai Aerospace Enterprise

The Keynote Speaker for the event was Firoz Tarapore, CEO of DAE – Dubai Aerospace Enterprise. DAE have just become a player in the Irish leasing scene having recently taken over Dublin based lessor AWAS. Following this acquisition DAE has become one of the biggest lessors in the world and the biggest in the Middle East. The company now owns over 400 aircraft worth in excess of $14 Billion. In his address, Mr Tarapore emphasised the types of skills required in the leasing business, it’s not just engineering and technical support but also other areas such as legal, finance, credit management etc. While being an aviation enthusiasts and holding a PPL, Mr Tarapore told the audience that his career did not begin in aviation but was broadly based in finance before the opportunity to work with DAE. He impressed on the students in the room the importance of continuous learning and education within their chosen field in order to excel and succeed. A tip echoed by many of the speakers throughout the day.

The main event was packed with speakers from all parts of the aviation sector talking about the digital transformation and it was great to see some of the Irish success stories working in this space, Peter Collins from CloudsCARDS (aircraft leasing management software), Dara McMahon (Director of Marketing Aer Lingus), Laura Ivers (ViaSat, formerly Acronics), Niall Conners (Assistant Director Safety Regulation Division, IAA) Stephen McGloin (Digital Development Manager Aer Lingus), Martina Costelloe (Information Security Manager at SMBC Aviation Capital) and Ronan Fitzpatrick (Director of Digital at PwC).

One of the other interesting speakers was Oisin McGrath from DroneSAR. DroneSAR has developed software that can turn existing off the shelf drones into Search and Rescue (SAR) aircraft. The company’s software can harness the benefits and advantages of drones such as surveying disaster zones, searching difficult terrain and getting to difficult locations. The software can maximise the benefits of on board sensors such as infrared and HD cameras to aid in the search for missing persons. Using satellite technology, the search team can login remotely, analyse the footage from the drone and help direct the search. This helps to speed up the rescue process, saving lives, reducing risks and reducing the cost of other expensive assets like SAR helicopters.

Oisin McGrath, Founder & CEO of DroneSAR

The event was broken up by several coffee breaks allowing students to network and talk to some of the speakers. The Air Corps were also in attendance offering advice on careers in the Defence Forces, they even brought a cockpit seat trainer from the Pilatus PC-9M. In the afternoon, a panel of the speakers took to the stage to discuss some of the issues in the industry and offer advice to those in attendance. The event was then closed by IASA Chairperson Bridget Corry.

Well done to the team at IASA for putting on a great event and for attracting so many high profile speakers to the event, I’m look forward to the Fourth Annual Symposium already.

The IAA showed this video to give students a sense of the size of the Irish aviation industry

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About the Author

Mark is an airline pilot flying the Boeing 737 for a major European airline. In addition he is also a Type Rating Instructor, Type Rating Examiner and Base Training Captain on the B737. Outside of commercial flying Mark enjoys flying light aircraft from the smallest 3 Axis microlights up to heavier singles. He is also an instructor and EASA Examiner on single engines and a UK CAA Examiner. He flies the Chipmunk for the Irish Historic Flight Foundation (IHFF). Mark became the Chairman of the National Microlight Association of Ireland (NMAI) in 2013 and has overseen a massive growth in the organisation. In this role he has worked at local and national levels. In 2015, Mark won ‘Upcoming Aviation Professional Award’ at the Aviation Industry Awards sponsored by the IAA. Mark launched this website back in 2002 while always managing the website, he has also been Editor and Deputy Editor of FlyingInIreland Magazine from 2005 to 2015.

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