The paper examines Saudi Arabian Airlines and it is specifically concerned with the technical services department. It is a research proposal, the main objective being how the company can introduce new aircrafts in its fleet, without disruption of services. The paper begins with an introduction of Saudi Arabian Airlines and observes its growth over the years. It notes the main aspects and expectations of the technical services department in organizations. The paper takes a closer look at the technical department in the Saudi Airlines. It specifically analyses the role and tasks carried out by the technical department, the different sections in the departments, and the role of these departments. The proposal addresses the scope of the study and the major problems addressed in the research. The aim is to find any opportunities for the improvement of services in the technical departments in the airline and this will be achieved by defining the problems that exist in the department.
Keywords: Saudi Arabian Airlines, technical services department, research, opportunity
The Saudi Arabian Airlines had its beginnings in 1945. In 1946, the airline was formally established as an operating agency in the ministry of defense. Saudi Arabian airlines were the first airlines to operate commercial jets, and they did this in 1962. The airlines growth was fast and they acquired aircrafts almost on an annual basis. The airline became a corporation in 1963 and two years later, it became part of the Arab Air Carriers Organization. In 1967, the airlines became part of the International Air Transport Association. The Flight Training Center was opened in 1979. In 1996, the airline unveiled its new corporate identity. The airline is a pioneer in its field as it tries to be the best airline in the world. In 1994, the airline installed air phone in some of its aircrafts. In December 1996, the airline introduced its website and the following year, it introduced Braille, thus ensuring that passengers who were visually impaired were not left out. The airline’s technical services and materials management division received the ISO-9002:1994 certification in the year 2000. Although the airline has a humble background, it has grown to become one of the most sought after and largest airlines in the world. It increased the number of destinations rapidly and the number of passengers who use it continues to grow steadily. As the national carrier, Saudi Airline has twenty-six domestic stations and sixty-four international stations (Saudi Airlines). The airline currently has more than one hundred aircrafts. Some of the aircrafts in its range include the B747-400, Airbus A300-600 and MD-11 among others.
Technical Services Departments
Technical services departments are very crucial in every business. They ensure smooth running of the business by ensuring that the business maintains its production of quality services and products. Technical services offer assistance to those who use the technical facilities of the business. They provide support services to the consumers and other people who might be in need of them. The technical services department is important for ensuring that the business or company complies with all laws pertaining to its field. Although these are the basic elements of the technical services department, organizations differ in many ways and they define their own roles based on the work they have to do and their organizational structure. Although there may be many organizations in the same field, their technical services department may not be similar. The people involved in the technical services department may include engineers and other professionals. They are responsible for technological developments of the business and they ensure that they are up to date with emerging technology. They help the organization to blend in with the changing environment by making sure they deal with the problems that face the organization. They look for any opportunities that the business might find useful and they keenly observe the threats facing the organization (Daft 2009 p. 27). The role of technical services organizations and departments keep on changing. This is mainly because of the changing job roles and advancement in technology that has made work easier over the years. Technological advancement is very important as it contributes to other innovations in the industry (Afable 2002, p. 1).
Description of the problem or opportunity
In an attempt to offer improved services and attract more clients, airlines are increasingly adopting new technologies. Airlines introduce new aircrafts to their fleet based on the performance of these aircrafts. Some of these aircrafts are introduced because they are fast, while others are more popular because of the comfort they offer the clients. People everywhere have become more interested in environmental matters. Airlines are no exception to this, and they are looking at the latest aircrafts, which have considered the reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This means that they are acquiring environmentally friendly aircrafts and abandoning the older models. What then happens to the older models? The technical department is responsible for ensuring that the models perform well. They inspect the aircrafts for any malfunction and they prepare them for travel. They take care of the different component parts and they are the first to know when something goes wrong. However, in order for them to do their work effectively, they have to have a thorough knowledge of how the aircraft works. Aircraft models are designed differently. Aircrafts cannot be introduced into a fleet haphazardly.
The employees in the technical department require time to learn how the aircraft works. The management has to ensure that it provides the required training for the employees. The employees may resist change because of several reasons and this will ultimately affect service delivery in the airlines. How can the management introduce the new aircrafts to its fleet, while ensuring service delivery? How will it convince and involve its employees to embrace the changes? When is it most appropriate to introduce the changes and how can they be implemented in the right way? Saudi Airlines has an opportunity to increase its market and its destinations by introducing these aircrafts to its fleet. This is in line with the company’s vision of becoming the leading airlines company in the Middle East. The introduction of the aircrafts will cause another problem, since the company has to dispose off its old aircrafts. Although these aircrafts are in good condition, they will not be used.
Technical Services Departments in Saudi Arabia Airlines
The technical services in Saudi Airlines are divided into nine departments. They include Technical Department DPM, Technical Quality Assurance DPM, Facilities and Ground Support Equipment Maintenance DPM, Major Base Aircraft Maintenance DPM, Aircraft Engineering DPM, Maintenance Planning & Control Center DPM, System Maintenance DPM and Aircraft Component & Overhaul DPM. The staff offering technical services makes up the majority of employees in the airlines. The staff includes technicians, inspectors, engineers and planners. The technical services personnel operate twenty-six sections within the kingdom and thirty stations outside the kingdom (Saudi Airlines). The head of the department is the director general and he is assisted by the vice president of technical services. General Managers of the various departments work under the vice president. The staff has many responsibilities especially in maintenance. They maintain the aircraft bodies and engines, and avionics. They maintain the fleet support equipment and they ensure that all machinery is working well (Saudi airlines 2006).
The technical services training department is responsible for the training of the staff. The department establishes whether there is any need for the training of staff and it assess the training conducted by outside bodies. It makes sure that the staff is performing their work accordingly and it recognizes those who have exemplary performance. The company privatized technical services, hoping that this would help it improve its services. The privatization of the technical services in line with the current trend in corporate management whereby companies are outsourcing some of the duties with the aim of cutting back on costs and increasing efficiency. This is because it brings about the subject of division of labor and specialization whereby companies and individuals engage in activities they are best suited in. with this respect, the company has been able to outsource this service to some of the most qualified companies, that are best equipped and qualified to bring about the desired results.
The company’s objective is to become the leading center for processing and maintaining aircraft bodies and engines in the Middle East. The current cost of operations is high and the company hopes that it will reduce these costs by adopting new technology. Although the airline prides itself in providing quality services, it does not neglect the fact that it needs to invest more on it service production. It aims to improve its service delivery and ensure high performance standards. The agreement signed by the airline and Pratt & Whitney provides that the airline should wash its engines and the engines of other commercial airlines operating in the kingdom. This is a benefit to the airline as it works to reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere. The “ecowash system” developed by Pratt & Whitney ensures a reduction in fuel burn, eliminates carbon dioxide emissions and decreases the temperature of the engine gas. The airline has to undertake this additional responsibility and as such, it needs to train people to do the work. In addition to the maintenance and the inspection service the airline offers, it also offers training in different sectors.
The airline has a fleet of different aircrafts, which include twenty B747, twenty-three B777, twenty-nine MD90, four MD11F and fifteen E170. Seven of these aircrafts operate as royal aircrafts. They include four B747, one B757 and two MD11s. The company phased out the Airbus 300 (Saudi Airline). People develop different aircrafts for several reasons. Some want to increase the speed, while others are more concerned about the environment and they design aircrafts that will not emit a lot of carbon. For a training program to be successful, one has to observe the changes made in other department. For instance, the staff needs to be made aware of why they are undertaking the particular program. The person giving the instructions in a training program should know all the theories applicable, and he or she should be able to apply these theories practically.
The objective of this research is to identify ways through which the airline can effectively introduce the new aircrafts to its fleet without disruption of services. The paper will essentially be concerned with how the staff in the technical department can be trained to handle the new aircrafts effectively.
Variables to be addressed
The staff members need motivation in order for them to perform their duties and to accept the changes. They also require training so that they can be able to manage a new fleet. High quality training may cost the organization a lot of money. It is however necessary so that the staff can manage the fleet without any problems. Motivation is a necessary factor in the training program. Staff needs to be motivated to attend the training and the organization can achieve this using different ways. The number of aircrafts to be affected needs to be identified. Some of the aircrafts will not be needed when the new fleet is introduced. However, they should not be written off before the other ones are fully implemented in the fleet.
Scope of investigation
The research will be based in Saudi Airlines only, since it is a departmental problem concerning the airlines. It will extensively use the information gathered in its website and other electronic sources containing useful information. Some of the employees working in the technical services department of the company will be interviewed. The information from the employees will especially be useful since it will offer first-hand account of how the employees receive training, and how effective the training is. They will also assist in identifying the best training methods. Most of the content will involve the technical services department in the company. Where necessary, the research will include information from other places for comparison purposes. The investigative research will not take a lot of time since most of the information is available.
One of the major problems anticipated in this research is that the employees might refuse to cooperate and give the required information. This will hinder the research process since it will limit the information available thus, a conclusive decision will not be made. Another anticipated problem is time. Although information from electronic sources is readily available, the employees may lack the time due to busy schedules. Training the staff to take on new responsibility can prove challenging, especially if they perceive they are going to be affected negatively by the changes.
Technology has made things easier and the instructor should be able to demonstrate thorough knowledge of how to use the relevant technology. In this case, the instructor should demonstrate that he knows how to handle the new aircraft models and how to clean the engines using the “ecowash system”. The instructor should show an understanding of communications technology by using it to demonstrate his lessons. This not only adds to the interest of the lesson, but it enhances efficiency and effectiveness of the program. The trainees should participate in the training program. It should not be a lecture-type kind of training where the instructor teaches all that he knows. The training program should be a partnership between the instructor and the trainees (Dessinger & Moseley p. 41).
The Saudi Airlines has recently acquired additional aircrafts and all the technical personnel should know how to handle them. The staff may already be familiar with some of the aircrafts and so this might not be a big challenge. The airline’s decision to upgrade the extended range of Boeing 777 was a good idea. The main objective of the upgrade was to ensure that the passengers enjoyed their travel. Moreover, the fleet had a more elegant design than the previous fleet. The design not only enhances comfort and style, but it also ensures that the fleet meets the maintenance standards. It is of paramount importance that the technical personnel should attend the engineering services offered by Boeing so that they can learn of any changes made to the engines or other aircraft components. This will ensure better service delivery since the technical personnel will know what to do incase a problem occurs.
The technical services department has been of core importance to the Saudi Airlines. The department has been mandated with the smooth and efficient mergence between recourse utilization and service delivery to the customers. Saudi airlines has successfully entrenched the technical services departments in its operations through the creation of nine departments. This has gone a long way in meeting the company’s objective of becoming the leading center for processing and maintaining aircraft bodies and engines in the Middle East.
Afable DJ, 2002, A beginner’s guide to understanding technical support, iUniverse
Daft, JM, Willmott H, 2010, Organization theory and design, Cengage Learning EMEA
Saudi Airlines 2006, 2006 Saudi technical services staff on the increase, Saudi Airlines, viewed 15 August 2011, <http://www.saudiairlines.com/portal/site/saudiairlines/menuitem.f79b25a0f48ef685173ff63dc8f034a0/?vgnextoid=39244005b547b110VgnVCM1000001f64e80aRCRD>
Saudi Airlines, 2006, 2006 The privatization of technical services, Saudi Airlines, viewed 15 August 2011, <http://www.saudiairlines.com/portal/site/saudiairlines/menuitem.f79b25a0f48ef685173ff63dc8f034a0/?vgnextoid=f6934005b547b110VgnVCM1000001f64e80aRCRD>