What pulled you into aviation?

My interest in aviation started early in life, back in the mid-1980s when I was in primary school. A field trip to Changi airport got me interested in airplanes and the wider aviation industry.

I started looking for a job that could get me into this industry as soon as I completed my National Service. I joined the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) as a Probationary Air Traffic Control Officer in 1996, and commenced training at the Singapore Aviation Academy. The academy provided me with realistic and practical training incorporating state-of-the-art Air Traffic Control (ATC) simulators. After completing the simulator training, I had to undergo a structured on-the-job training in a live ATC environment.

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What came next?

After my training, I was posted to the Singapore Air Traffic Control Centre as an en-route Air Traffic Control Officer (ATCO) managing flights that operate within the Singapore Flight Information Region (FIR). Having grown “comfortable” with the stress associated with being an operational ATCO, I was given the opportunity to move on to a planning role. In 2006, I assumed the role of project officer. air traffic management (ATM).

I am currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation Business Administration from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Asia and the Singapore Institute of Management University.

What are your current duties?

I lead a team of air traffic control (ATC) managers who are charged with airspace management, planning and designing new air routes. I also travel frequently within the region to meet with counterparts to discuss ATM matters at various platforms such as ICAO and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation.

A major initiative that I recently completed in collaboration with Vietnam ATM is the implementation of automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast (ADS-B) over parts of the Singapore FIR. This initiative enabled us to extend surveillance coverage over flights that operate beyond the conventional range of radar. It brought about a step change in the provision of ATC, enhanced flight safety and increased capacity through better surveillance. Airlines have also benefited, enjoying fuel savings amounting to more than S$2 million ($1.48 million) annually.

My current project is the implementation of multi-nodal air traffic flow management for this region which aims to balance demand and capacity of air traffic, boosting safety and efficiency.

What else is new?

Given Singapore’s aim to always achieve the highest level in operational safety, capacity and efficiency, we have been investing heavily in state-of-the-art technology, such as the Long Range Radar and Display System III ATM system, to handle air traffic beyond the next decade.

CAAS is also actively developing Singapore into a Centre of Excellence for ATM to improve the efficiency and safety of ATM in Singapore and the Asia-Pacific region. This involves building a vibrant ecosystem of research centres, think-tanks, industry players, academia, ATM entities and aviation stakeholders contributing to a wide range of research and development activities and test-bedding of solutions.

What's the most enjoyable part?

Designing and building highways in the sky and the contributions we make to safe and efficient air travel – these are the most enjoyable parts of my job. I also enjoy working with regional ATM professionals. Despite our different nationalities, culture and background, we all speak a common language and share a common vision to make the skies a better place to fly.

What's the most challenging part?

I relish the challenge of managing aircraft in a busy airspace. Singapore manages over 660,000 aircraft movements annually within the Singapore FIR.

In my current role, some of the issues we deal with are driven by the interests of stakeholders in their respective domains. This has shaped my thinking and how I approach problems and issues. While other factors may affect our decisions and options, I am always reminded not to depart from the focus of ensuring that flights can operate safely and efficiently in the Singapore flight information region.

Source: Flight International