Gulf Aviation Academy: Pioneering Leadership in Aviation Training

Captain Dhaffer Al Abbasi / CEO · Gulf Aviation Academy (GAA)

Captain Dhaffer Al Abbasi is a name synonymous with excellence in aviation training. With a remarkable journey from the cockpit to the boardroom, Captain Al Abbasi is now approaching his 10 year anniversary as the CEO of Gulf Aviation Academy (GAA), a prominent institution in the Middle East aviation landscape.

In this interview, we delve into his career milestones, vision for GAA, and the academy’s contributions to the aviation industry.

GAA is agile, so we can move into non- aviation markets such as maritime and leadership programs

What is GAA’s core training business?

GAA’s main core is Pilot and Cabin Crew training programs that meet the requirements of regulators and international accreditation bodies.

How is GAA coping with market demand post-Covid? We have noticed many advertisements for non- aviation training being posted in your communications.

GAA has a clear strategy to be the training academy of choice for students seeking aviation training. Following
all international standards, GAA has achieved an “outstanding” ranking from Bahraini authorities over consecutive years for the training quality provided
at the academy. Capitalizing on GAA’s knowledge and skill, we have decided to tap into non-aviation sectors to expand our portfolio of products and be a true academy of choice in the region.

Introducing interactive E-Learning and LMS solutions

Technology is driving the market globally? How would GAA cope with such an immersive transition to adopting the latest technology in your training centre?

GAA adoption and pre-planning for innovative technologies took place pre-Covid. Covid slowed this adoption down, but post-Covid, it is now going at full force. Our e-learning solution is live, and our AR/VR technology is ready and is being promoted with a full range of LMS features.

Can you elaborate more on how your LMS solution works? And how will this benefit clients?

LMS is a platform for the administration of e-learning and AR/VR which is built to support all the course documentation, educational courses, and other online programs. It offers robust features that optimize the entire process of learning.

Can you elaborate more on the AR/ VR adaption to your training? What benefits will it add to clients enrolling in such technology with GAA?

AR/VR training is a great add-on feature to your training. Simply, imagine conducting your urgent training needs, from anywhere and at any time. For aviation, training should be in a real environment and replicating real-world scenarios, which can become very costly for many industries. With AR/VR, these scenarios can be converted into the system. The trainees can be standing in an immersive work environment while being in another location and still conduct their regular training. It doesn’t stop there. With GAA’s AR/VR, you can easily build scenarios of unexpected events and incidents that cannot be replicated in real-world scenarios.

It has been proven that AR/VR training can help learners to better understand complex concepts quickly and efficiently. AR/VR increases the speed of training four-fold, increases confidence to apply skills after training by 275% and reduces the cost of training by 63%.

Nowadays, we see airlines getting busier post-COVID, where traffic in the airport is increasing by the hour. Does GAA provide approved ATC courses?

Yes, we are proud to be one of the few who have built the entire ATC Simulator in-house and got the required approvals from authorities to run the training for local markets and international markets too.

How many courses are available? Is there a simulator room for such training?

All our courses are ICAO-approved, below are the available courses with GAA:
→ ICAO 051 Air Traffic Control Basic

→ ICAO 052 Aerodrome Control

→ ICAO 053 Approach Control

Procedural Course
→ ICAO 054 Approach Control

Surveillance Course
→ ICAO 054 Area Control Surveillance

→ ICAO 055 Area Control Procedural

→ ICAO 053/054 Approach Control

Procedural & Surveillance Combined

→ ICAO 055/054 Area Control

Procedural & Surveillance Combined

→ ICAO 211 ATS Instructor (Classroom)

→ ICAO 219 On-the-Job Training

Instructor (OJTI) Course
→ ICAO 059 ATS Operational

Supervisor Course
→ Team Resource Management (TRM)

Aircraft maintenance and engineering courses

We spoke about technologies, pilots and cabin crew. Could we know more details on the core of aeroplanes? Can you briefly inform us of any Engineering courses available at GAA?

We provide a variety of Engineering courses: A320/A330 Type rating courses (B1&B2 combined), Engin Run-up, Ramp & Transit, Refresher courses, Human factor, Fuel tank safety, Electrical wiring interconnection system, Ramp Safety, SMS, DGR and CRM.

We provide this training on any aircraft type.

Has GAA accomplished any achievements in the sector?

GAA is the first aviation training centre in the Kingdom of Bahrain that is approved by the education and training quality authority for the A320 family and A330 aircraft types. These rating courses are at Level 8 as per the national qualification framework and are equivalent to a bachelor’s degree.

Totality of the training solution provided

It sounds like GAA engages in many training sectors. How many courses are available within your academy?

With more than 45 SMEs (subject matter experts), GAA owns more than four hundred training programs, which can be provided to our clients across all business sectors.

What has led you to develop and add so many courses to your portfolio?

Due to the agility of GAA, we can customize courses based on demand. Some clients require a certain course outline. We have the expertise and experience to meet these requirements and below are the sectors that GAA covers: Pilots, Cabin crew, Aviation Security, Air traffic control, Maritime, Soft Skills (Leadership programs), Aircraft maintenance, Airport operations and Airport ground handling.

The latest simulator technology (upgraded to Airbus’s latest standards)

What drives pilots to train at your facility?

Our facility is open 24/7 across the year. To be the training academy of choice, GAA does not compromise its quality and standards at any cost. Our pilots experience this with our state-of-the-art full-flight simulators. As we speak, we have four A320 full flight simulators, two of them are at standard version 2.0, and the other two are at version 2.1, which is considered the latest version in the industry. GAA is also known for being the FIRST EASA ATO approved outside Europe and the First GACA ATO to be approved outside Saudi for both wet and dry training. GAA is also the FIRST UKCAA-approved ATO outside the UK. All of these and more are key for attracting clients to our facility.