Pilot Dave Attai shares 38 years of aviation history: From trainee to inspector

Pilot Dave Attai shares 38 years of aviation history: From trainee to inspector

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Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago: Former Aircraft pilot at BWIA – Dave Attai, shared a bit of aviation history courtesy through his social media account.

He introduced his life experiences to the world and shared the happenings in the aviation world in the past 38 years.

According to the official update, he is a former employee of BWIA. In his teenage years, after leaving Holy Cross College in Arima, he attended Hillview College to pursue A-Levels. At that point, he had no idea of what career path he really wanted to follow in his life.

He stated that his parents insisted he become either a doctor or a lawyer. “After witnessing my neighbour dissect a rat for his biology project, I realized that biology and becoming a doctor was not my thing. Needless to say, becoming a lawyer was also a no-no,” he quoted.

He added that one day, he was fortunate to meet a gentleman named Ganesh Lall, who was an engineer at BWIA. Lall took pleasure in explaining all the exciting stories about the aircraft and its maintenance requirements. He made it a must to visit him every weekend to hear more stories. Immediately, his passion for aircraft began to grow.

Soon thereafter, the Caribbean Aviation Training Institute (CATI) advertised its training programme in conjunction with BWIA, which offered scholarships. Unfortunately, BWIA gave the scholarships to their employees only, so with much determination, he decided to take a student loan to fulfil my desire to attend the Aircraft Maintenance Engineer’s course at CATI.

Reportedly, he was accepted in the Aircraft Maintenance Engineer’s Class of 1980 and after 2 ½ years, he completed his training. At that time, BWIA absorbed their employees after the training. As a result, it was difficult to find employment at BWIA and in the helicopter industry. Meanwhile, he secured a job as a Sales Representative, supplying laboratory equipment to various high schools.

As per the update by Dave Attai, in April 1984, he joined Bristow Helicopters as a trainee engineer at Point Galeota for a short time.

In 1985, he was offered a temporary job at BWIA in order to maintain the currency of my Aircraft Maintenance Engineer’s License (AMEL). He was assigned to work on the AVRO 748 aircraft only, under the strict supervision of Ly Bailey and Ray Johnson, ex-military British soldiers who never hesitated to use “coarse” adjectives.

As a young trainee, he was given the dirtiest jobs that existed and was often covered in oil at the end of the shift. Funny enough, this is something that he often reminisces about and feels proud of…the fact that it never discouraged me from achieving my goals.

In 1986, he was transferred to the international hanger, where he worked on the heavy maintenance “D” check of the DC9 aircraft. Based on his performance, he was hired as a permanent employee. From that point onwards, focus was placed on my development as an engineer, which contributed to my career growth.

He received type training on the DC9, MD83 and L1011 aircraft and was afforded the opportunity to work on the L1011 “C” and “A” checks and the MD83 “C” Checks. In December 1994, Attai embraced an opportunity to apply for the position of Quality Assurance Inspector in the Quality Assurance department and was successful.

In 1996, he was chosen to attend factory training on the Airbus A321 aircraft in Miami, and in 1999, he received factory training on the B737-700/800 aircraft at the Boeing Facility in Seattle. Further to that, Attai was also fortunate to receive type training on the Airbus A340 aircraft.

As per the update, during his career as a QA Inspector, he had the opportunity to conduct audits both locally and internationally and represented BWIA at Delta Airlines in Atlanta and Commercial Jet in Miami during the aircraft “C” Checks.

The training and experience gained over the years propelled me to go further and expand my aviation dream. In February 2006, he applied to the Trinidad and Tobago Civil Aviation Authority (TTCAA) and was employed as an Airworthiness Inspector.

Another milestone along his career path. At the TTCAA, he received various types of regulatory training as part of his development and progression towards performing oversight functions at the State level. In 2008, he received my full certificate from the University of Southern California in Aviation Safety and Security and the Aviation Safety Inspector’s Certificate from the FAA Academy in Oklahoma.

His assignments as an Airworthiness Inspector involved conducting audits and other oversight activities of Aircraft Operators and their sub-contractors, both locally and internationally.

As he progressed within the TTCAA, he received further type training on the Sikorsky S76 helicopters, the BELL 412 and the Agusta Westland AW139 helicopters.

In January 2016, he was promoted to the position of Head of Quality and Investigations, where he investigated incidents and accidents involving Trinidad and Tobago Registered Aircraft that occurred within the local jurisdiction and other regional and international jurisdictions.

To prepare me for the role of investigator, he was required to attend several International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) seminars/workshops abroad, including training at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Academy in Virginia.

“In 2017, I was given the opportunity to act in the capacity of Executive Manager of the Safety Regulation Department for a period of time, and then I reverted to my previous position. This also proved to be a great learning experience in my career,” he outlined through social media.

In January 2021, he retired from the TTCAA. However, it did not mark the end of his career. He realized he had a lot of experience and knowledge to impart. He returned to the TTCAA on contract, and to date, he is still with his TTCAA family performing inspections and surveillance of Operators and also offering expertise advice and training to his fellow Inspectors.

“I thank God for guiding me through my entire career. I thank BWIA, TTCAA and all my fellow colleagues who were instrumental in my development and making my career a great achievement. I look forward to continuing guiding the younger Engineers to work towards a remarkable Aviation Career,” he concluded.