A private airline in the capital has obtained
federal approval for its emergency training programme thanks
largely to the hard work of one man.Hank Jacobs has been the safety
training instructor at Abu Dhabi Aviation, which flies plans and
helicopters to oilfields and islands in the UAE and abroad, for six
The South African has worked as a safety
trainer for two decades, and still loves it enough that he studies
it in his spare time. But 16 months ago, when Abu Dhabi
Aviation underwent an initial attempt at federal training
accreditation, the results were not good.
Nabeela Al Awadhi, head of the aeromedical
section at the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), said her
initial visit was "not impressive at all."
The airline did not have the required safety instruction and
operation manuals, and its request would have been rejected
outright if not for the "passion and dedication" of Mr Jacobs, she
In Mr Jacobs's own words: "I love everything
about safety training. If you ask what I like to do in the
weekends, it's studying stuff like this. It's my passion. I've been
doing this for almost 20 years now, and love my job. I stick to
what I know and what I'm good at. If you put me in a food and
beverage job I would be lost."
In Ms Al Awadhi's words: "He would call and
ask me every day what he could do to improve his application. I
said it would be too difficult, but he persisted."
Persistence paid off as, on its latest
review, Abu Dhabi Aviation's training programme wowed the
inspectors and received their final approval.
"When they reapplied, I was very surprised with the high level of
the new application. I am proud of what we have reached together -
this is now the best facility in the UAE," Ms Al Awadhi said.
The accreditation means Abu Dhabi Aviation is
now one of the five airline operators in the UAE - out of a field
of 55 operators - to have GCAA approval to adopt the
internationally recognised Medic First Aid training programme. The
others include Emirates Airline and flydubai; an application by
Etihad Airways is pending.
Medic First Aid teaches an extensive array of
first-aid techniques, including CPR, handling births and
miscarriages on a flight, as well as treating heart attacks,
controlling bleeding, dousing fires and more.
The company's training facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport
features life-sized mannequins that simulate bleeding and choking.
It also has a manual defibrillator machine that allows students to
practise what to do in the event a passenger has a heart
Mr Jacobs said the discipline required by the
Medic First Aid programme filters out "bogus safety training
He said, "It blows the rest out of the water."
The GCAA will audit the airline's training programme
Abu Dhabi Aviation, which has operated since 1976, employs about
200 pilots, 14 cabin crew and 50 workers on the ground who deal
Both helicopter and aeroplane pilots will be
required to take a one-day, seven-hour course in order to be
certified. The airline's ground staff will also be required to
receive the training.
To learn how to deal with conditions in a
pressurised cabin environment - which causes changes in blood flow,
blood pressure and body temperature - cabin crew are expected to
take an advanced, five-day course.
The quality of training is vital to saving
lives, as there is "no time to lose", Mr Jacobs said.
"If there is a loss of blood for more than three minutes, you're
going to start becoming unconscious," Mr Jacobs said. "That's the
same time it takes to walk to the kitchen, put the kettle on for a
cup of tea ... and then someone's dead."
The general manager of Abu Dhabi Aviation,
Mohammed Ibrahim M Al Mazrouei, said Medic First Aid is the right
programme for the company.
"We worked hard to get it," he said, "so we are very happy."