The Gulf Centre for Aviation Studies (GCAS) is a centre of excellence for airport and aviation training based in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. GCAS was established in 2009 by Abu Dhabi Airports, the operator of the five major airports in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, to lead the development of the aviation industry in the UAE and the region through delivering highly qualified aviation professionals.

The Gulf Centre for Aviation Studies (GCAS) is the world’s first International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Trainair Plus Gold Member; a fully certified and endorsed aviation training institution by the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) of the United Arab Emirates; and is accredited by the Abu Dhabi Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (ACTVET).

GCAS has also been appointed by ICAO as the regional training centre of excellence (RTCE) for the Middle East region. The RTCE scope will encompass three separate categories: aerodromes, air transport, and flight safety and safety management, further strengthening GCAS’s status as the leading airport and aviation training facility in the region.

For the future

Training must be closely intertwined with the actual business environment. Here, GCAS has the advantage of being one of the very few training institutions located in an international operational airport. This provides students with access to learning experiences that are not available in traditional training environments. Course delivery is not just focused on knowledge transfer in the classroom, but students have the ability to experience and assess their newfound knowledge against an operational airport during the course itself. GCAS’s close association with Abu Dhabi International Airport also offers students access to an airport that is one of the fastest-growing hubs in the Middle East that will also house one of the largest passenger terminals in the world by 2017.

GCAS has a portfolio of more than 300 courses covering most key areas in the industry, which include more than 30 courses covering key aerodrome requirements. It understands that every aerodrome has unique requirements and it is more than happy to tailor-make courses to specific needs. Courses cover all levels of staff from new joiners looking for a basic understanding of aerodromes, to experienced staff needing to update their knowledge and keep abreast of international best practice, to accountable senior managers focused on strategy and safe operational efficiency.

GCAS also has a number of key projects underway with the focus on attracting, retaining and up-skilling the workforce, especially in the area of aerodromes. Abu Dhabi Airports national training programme – Al Eqlaa (take-off) – is one such initiative that looks at attracting the young generation to the airport and aviation industry.

The main focus of Al Eqlaa is to develop young Emiratis as airport professionals by providing them with key skills and the ability to work in critical roles within Abu Dhabi Airports. This initiative will play a vital part in ensuring that Abu Dhabi Airports supports Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 by not just being the key gateway to the emirate of Abu Dhabi but by ensuring the focus is on attracting and developing Emirati talent in the aviation sector.

This comprehensive training programme, which is the first of its kind in the region, is delivered over an 18-24-month period in two stages consisting of an airport foundation programme and an airport specialisation training programme. The foundation part of the programme gives trainees an insight into airport management and operations, while the specialisation part of the programme allows trainees to choose from a variety of airport job functions including operations, engineering, finance, HR, customer service, IT and commercial, to name but a few.

While the aviation industry has grown by leaps and bounds in this region, development of human capital cannot be managed overnight and requires institutions that are willing to focus, not only on the current requirements of today, but on the long term. While technology will continue to drive and dictate evolution on the operational front, GCAS’s strong belief is that human capital development will continue to be rooted in a strong training culture that integrates experiences of the past with the requirements of the future, with training that not only delivers operational effectiveness but also caters to the dreams, aspirations and ambitions of individuals looking for a long-term career in the aviation industry.