Sharjah International Airport Internship Report
This is a report compiled by an intern at the Sharjah International airport comprising its seven departments. Sharjah International Airport is a multinational airport that is located in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates and it is only 15 km away from Dubai the capital city of U.A.E. The Department of Civil Aviation services are the first segment that deals with the communication and information conveyance at the airport; DCA, Safety And Inspection, SAS, Airport Pass Office, Met Office, ATC And Briefing, and Air Arabia Dispatcher
Sharjah International Airport Internship Report
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Sharjah International Airport is a multinational airport that is located in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates and it is only 15 km away from Dubai the capital city of U.A.E. It operates under the IATA Code SHJ and ICAO Code OMSJ(Gupta, Arif, & Richardson, 2014). The airport covers a large space of an area of 15,200,000m2 and it is the third largest airfreight carrier in Middle East. According to the 2014 statistics, the airport handled 11,993,887 passengers and a cargo tonnage of 586,195. Actually, the Airport Council International recognizes SHJ as one of the fast growing airports globally with its tonnage carrier achieving an average of 16.1% increase annually (“yearbook 2015”).The aerodrome serves as the hub for Air Arabia, Singapore Airlines Cargo, Aerovista, and Heavy Lift International.
It is a busy airport that was built in 1970 and launched its operations in 1977. Sharjah International Airport substituted RAF Sharjah which was the first airport in U.A.E and it was operational since 1932. The replacement of RAF Sharjah was mainly influenced by the development of Sharjah city that required a good and efficient transport network to serve its day-to-day activities. SHJ is significant for its contribution to the Operation Desert Storm in 1990 where the United States Air Force troupe was stationed. This paper comprises of a report of the information garnered during an internship at the Sharjah International Airport. It provides information on various departments and an insight on international aviation terms that guides airport operations.
The Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) in an airport deals with provision of news and information regarding the sundry of airport activities. It has also extensive information regarding the jurisdiction and the aircraft regulations and exercises administrative control in all the communication in and out the airport (Liou et al., 2011). This department works in line with the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) of the United Arab Emirates. According to Mr. Khalid Al Muhairi, who is the head of DCA in Sharjah, an airport is quite a busy place with an array of activities that enable efficiency in moving goods and people from one point to the other. In order to understand the aviation services, it is quite important to first learn about the international regulation guiding air transport.
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and Chicago convention
ICAO is a unit of the United Nations that deals with the international regulations guiding air transport around the world. It adopts standards and practices that ensure safety, protocols in case of an accident, and it enhances implementation of air transport laws. The birth of ICAO can be traced to advent of civilian air transport during the Second World War (Liou et al., 2011). Previously, aerial navigation was regulated by international conventionssuch as Paris Convention of 1919 (Martin, 1992). In 1912, 27 countries attended the International Commission for Air Navigation (ICAN) in London where radio call signs were introduced in airplanes (Martin, 1992). During these conventions, there were various disagreements and they did not come up with much aircraft related solutions. However, in 1945 fifty two states met in Chicago to sign the Convention on International Civil Aviation or the Chicago Convention. Two years later, it became the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) (Martin, 1992).
Air traffic rights and Sharjah traffic rights
Mr. Khalid Al Muhairi said that some of the solutions identified during the Chicago Convention were the air traffic rights that regulate on how a country’s airline enters and lands in a foreign country’s airspace. These rights generally referred to as freedoms, outline the type of international services permitted between two or more countries. Generally, there are nine freedoms that govern air transit such as the right to refuel in another country, stopping in a foreign land in case of an emergency among other freedoms. Mr. Khalid explains that Sharjah Airport operates under the “Open Sky” policy that allows a bilateral air transport agreement. This is where two countries negotiate on launching commercial flights between them and they can involve a third country that agrees to the open sky policy. Sharjah uses this freedom with an array of states such as India and the head of DCA Mr. Khalid was en route to Ethiopia to initiate talks and hopefully make a contract with the country.
The safety inspector at Sharjah airport is known as Fadi and this department is divided into two categories; airside inspection and terminal inspection.
Air side and terminal inspection
The airside refers to pretty much everything within the airport perimeter other than the terminals. Airside inspection is the process of ensuring that rules and regulations governing this place are adhered to. The terminal on the other side refers to the point where passengers transit from the ground transportation and boarding the plane. At the terminal, passengers get their tickets, go through the security protocol, and gain access to the planes (Gupta, Arif, & Richardson, 2014). Sharjah has five cargo terminals apart from the arrival and departures point for passengers; they are for cargo holding, import, freight, forwarders, and for exportation. The security of the air side and the terminals is paramount; hence, Fadi emphasis that inspection has to be done regularly.
At Sharjah, inspection is carried out every 9 am and 12 pm to ensure that the people entrusted with safety responsibilities are up to the task. It also involves checking any hazardous materials such as broken glasses and unattended luggage. The inspection also helps in patrols and identification checks that permits access to authorized people at certain points. The airside inspection also involves controlling vehicular traffic at the point where taxis and public transport enters and leaves the airport within the allowed speed as per Fadi’s explanations. The inspection goes to even the runaway before giving the plane a go ahead to either fly or land. The terminal inspection is widely concerned on people; ensuring their safety and taking security precaution measures.
Foreign object debris (FOD) is objects that are placed inappropriately around the airport and can cause damage to the plane or personnel. The airport took various preventive measures in order to avoid any risk associated with FOD. Mr Ahmed works in FOD-safety and inspection department, and deals with foreign objects. His jurisdiction is around the terminal gates, cargo aprons, taxiways, runways, and run-up pads. Ahmed together with his team had to make sure every bus or car is parked in the right place and made sure their light bars are working properly and checked the fences for any damage and made sure all the equipment are placed correctly. Similarly, Ahmed and his group checked if there were any speeding cars because the speed limits like inside roads in taxi ways are only 25kmh and the outside routes in the airside are 40kmh maximum. This team used four main preventive measures against FOD. The first one was sweeping around the aerodrome. They also used magnetic bars to pick up any metallic materials, rumble strips and FOD containers for collection of debris.
Mr Ahmed had another major responsibility where he received applications from companies who want to build any obstacles around the airport. His department ensures there is a safe obstacle clearance that won’t affect the aircrafts flow before approving it. The safety and inspection department used a system called SMS Pro (Safety Management System). It is a system where all the airport staff can access and if they found something suspicous either in the airside or terminal, they instantly take a picture and upload it to Sms Pro and the person who is in charge fixes it immediately.
SAS is a joint venture between Air Arabia and the Sharjah department of Civil Aviation that offers ground cargo handling and distribution to clients both online and offline. It is the point in which the imported and export cargo are managed. One of the handling agent known as Raj explains that the cargo terminal has an area cover of over 24,000 square feet for cargo handling only. Raj asserts that on the ground, cargo is handled in three bases; the baggage handling, warehouse and storage, and cargo aircrafts parking where they load and unload cargo. The airport employs a strategy which allows efficient where the aircraft parking bays are just a few meters from the facilities. This enables the cargo to be offloaded from the plane and loaded on-block to the express operators within 60 minutes (Gupta, Arif, & Richardson, 2014).Sharjah partners with Wallenborn Transport Group that provides 25 rollerbed trucks for moving cargo from the plane to the warehouse. They have controlled temperature and units in accordance to the goods’ requirements.Goods such as medicine and horticulture are mainly associated with controlled units and handled separately from other products.
Ghanish is the head of Cargo Operations at Sharjah Airport who also doubles as the head of the warehouse and storage facilities. Ghanish explains that safety measures are highly upheld in this area especially when it rains or in case of a risk. The fire and response department is adjacent to the SAS to ensure there is efficient response in case of an emergency. This department practices security drills on daily basis in a private area. The area also houses the hangars where one is for fixing the airport’s cars and another for aircraft’s servicing. He also gave me a tour around the aircraft’s scrapyard where many aircrafts have been left for dead.There is a tracking system that notifies the client on real time information of his or her cargo.
According to the SHJ 2015 workbook, the airport was the first to introduce an online “Advanced Track and Trace System” in Middle East. According to Ghanish, clients can know when their goods arrive and they can pick them at ease. In addition, the airport provides door-to-door cargo delivery using the barcoding system of identifying cargo.Basically, SAS deals with general cargo handling, mail handling, warehousing and storage, documentation, special handling of valuable, vulnerable, and perishable goods, unit load control, and custom control among others.
The airside offers an official spotting location for visitors who may wish to observe what is in the airport. However, the access process is usually rigorous mainly due to security and safety reasons. The pass office does not only deal with visitors but also workers must go through the process. This area offers passes and permits for transport security clearance, restricted areas identity cards, keycards, vehicle makers, seasonal airport pass, parking permits, and visitor airport pass. The pass office mainly produces security forms; either temporary or permanent passes for people who would like to enter the airport either to work there or coming from a foreign company to fix something in the airport. As an intern, visiting the airport there are various security forms and passes that are checked. The security personnel here scrutinize if the names are correct and rechecked their full info to avoid any mistake. The information is later fed to the information system which can be retrieved from any corner of the airport.
Climate and weather changes are very vital in any air transport; hence, the met office is of great importance. Met office originated from the United Kingdom as meteorological office in 1854 (McDougall, G & Roberts, 2009). In UAE, the met office operates under the auspices of the National Center of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS).Sharjah airport met office was started in 1933 when the airport was still under RAF making it the second eldest in the Arabian Gulf area. The met office works for 24 hours a day, 365 days in a year and provides forecasting for over a thousand flights in a month. Arab has significance of extreme aridity and high temperatures, but when it rains it can cause floods and huge damage. Therefore, weather updates has to be collected from different altitude ranging from 30, 000 feet to 39, 000 feet depending on where the plane is plying to. For instance, a plane to Germany from Sharjah has to be updated on climatic conditions over Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Larnaca, Cyprus and Istanbul.
The met office is positioned at the opposite side of the briefing area. It uses AFTN: Aeronautical Fixed Telecom Network which is found in all airports around the world so they can produce similar results. The met office prepares forecast folder for pilots before every flight to brief for upcoming weather conditions. Forecasting is done with sensors that are placed at three different points (Gary, 2006). One is placed at the runway that provides weather information to the pilot right to his cockpit, while the rest relies on the radar to provide focus for the range of more than 1,000 meters.
Data is generated from the data banks within a fraction of a second.Three hours before every flight, the pilot passes by the met office to receive the updates of the METAR which informs on how the weather is behaving in real-time at one specific airport to the other (updated, at least once, hourly). The National Center of Meteorology and Seismology issues aerodrome warnings in case an aircraft movement could be affected by weather phenomenon such as thunderstorm through the met office (Gary, 2006). Therefore, this office plays a significant role in preparation of any takeoff from the Sharjah Airport.
An airport briefing area provides the pilots with information regarding the climatic and weather conditions of the route they are plying. This are works closely with the met office as information gathered at the office is fed to the pilots in preparation for their flight. The government through the National Center of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS) provides preflight weather briefing through a comprehensive Flight Folder Briefing System. Sharjah Met Office has the log in details for this system and they can access information such as aerodrome forecast, warnings, METAR, satellite images, and turbulence charts among others that the pilot is briefed before taking off.
The control tower or the air traffic control (ATC) is a device that provides information regarding the aircraft on the ground or on the controlled airspace (McDougall, G & Roberts, 2007). The main aim is to prevent collision through an organized controlled flow of air traffic. It is usually tall in order to provide visual observation ability to the entire aerodrome. The control tower should range from 9 to 18 km in height. At Sharjah airport, Bryan is the head of air traffic control and the tower’s supervisor.
At the control tower, Bryan and other controllers use information displayed by the radar system that shows the positions of various aircraft with specific information such as speed and altitude. Information from the tower is used in providing ground control or the airport movements which include taxi runways, holding areas, departure gate and inactive runways among others. This is enhanced by good viewpoint and visibility from the control tower. The active runaways are also cleared by information from the ATC where they detect any unsafe condition and provide mitigation process (McDougall, G & Roberts, 2007). Bryan explained how they communicate with the ground and the pilots and how they managed things over there. Each controller has his/her own way of organizing the planes usually by aircraft strips.
Sharjah Airport uses Runway12 and Runway30 or sometimes the vice versa for airplanes to land depending on the weather and wind. Bryan also explained the ILS system and how it was used for landing. The ILS system is the instrument landing system that provides visual ability to the pilots as they land (McDougall, G & Roberts, 2007). They are able to see how the runway is from their cockpits as transmitted through radio signals.
The last department of the internship program was the Air Dispatcher. This is where the plane’s information is taken after it has taken off. After cargo or the passengers are cleared and board the plane, the pilot is briefed, and through the ATC information the plane takes off. The air dispatcher office now monitors the plane on transit by providing flight following service and advice to the pilots. They are signaled in case of any occurrence that may pose danger and are advised for an emergency landing. Surprisingly, each office monitors the planes of a specific carrier; for instance, the visited office was specifically an Air Arabia Dispatcher. The controller provided real time information on all planes for this career displayed on a five monitor screens. They are 50% responsible for the flight safety; hence, they have to be keen in deriving and providing information to the pilot.
Sharjah airport is a commercial aerodrome that deals with an array of air transport activities. It is located in the town of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates and plays a significant role in the economy and social status of the country. Being an intern at this place is an overwhelming experience as it has a lot to learn in regards to air transport.Firstly, flying to the country is just an experience as there is notable climatic change due to the extreme arid conditions experienced in the area. The airport is divided into seven segments that have been identified on this report. The Department of Civil Aviation services are the first segment that deals with the communication and information conveyance at the airport. All the departments that are related to communication such as public relation and human resource are under the DCA. The safety and inspection department deals specifically with security concerns and provides regular security checkups.
In the wake of terrorism as a global threat, security measures in the airport have been tightened. Sharjah Aviation Services handle goods that are imported or exported through this airport. The Airport Pass Officesimply where security access codes are provided to visitors and workers around the airport. The met office is where the meteorological information is collected. This information is transferred to the pilots through the briefing office in preparation of a flight. The control tower helps in monitoring and regulating the activities around the airport. Lastly, the air dispatcher is concerned on the plane on transit. It collects information that is useful in detecting and mitigating an incident. In conclusion, internship at Sharjah was very fruitful and educational as it provided all the information involved in aviation.
Gary R. (2006). Rainfall and climate records from Sharjah Airport: Historical data for the study of recent climatic periodicity in the U.A.E. Retrieved from: http://enhg.net/Portals/1/trib/V16N1/TribulusV16N1P03-09.pdf
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McDougall, G & Roberts, A. S. (August 15, 2007). “Commercializing Air Traffic Control: Have the Reforms Worked?” Canadian Public Administration: 51, 1, pp. 45–69,
Sharjah international airport.Yearbook 2015. Retrieved from: http://www.sharjahairport.ae/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Sharjah-Intl_INT_ENGLISH.pdf