Flying High in Air Traffic Management
Sindhura Lang is a Senior Safety Engineer at Ebeni. Aged 29, she joined the firm in 2015, straight out of University, where she studied Aerospace Engineering, and has developed her expertise in the Air Traffic Management (ATM) Business Unit.
With an ambition to develop her people and project management skills and ultimately have more involvement in client relations, Sindhura is forging ahead in a career that, like many Safety Engineers, she hadn’t envisaged at school.
“Coming out of A-levels, I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do,” she recalls. “I liked aircraft and thought Aerospace Engineering would be something really interesting to get into. It provides a lot of transferrable skills. But Safety isn’t something that graduates would immediately go for. It wasn’t until my Masters year at UWE Bristol that I knew what Safety Engineering was. We had to produce a safety case as part of a group project and that gave us all an appreciation for the safety aspects.”
While she is nominally based at Ebeni’s Corsham HQ, Sindhura has spent much of her career to date seconded to client companies around the UK and in Europe. They include NATS (formerly National Air Traffic Services), the UK’s Air Navigation Services Provider, and a project in Slovakia for INDRA Avitech, where she was seconded into the relatively senior role of Safety and Software Quality Manager.
“I completed a Leadership & Management course prior to taking on that project because, although I wasn’t managing anyone at that time, it did involve interfacing with other senior leadership within INDRA Avitech and it has since helped me develop in my current role where I frequently liaise with key project stakeholders of all levels. I like the secondment aspect of working for Ebeni because it gives me a feel for different company cultures and I think that’s good for development and my Consultancy skills.”
Sindhura is currently seconded to Aquila ATMS, where she is currently the Safety Lead for the integration of Voice Communications Systems and Radar Data Processing / Support Information Systems in a Hub and Satellite configuration, providing a centralised control room at a number of Military airfields in each region of the UK.
Another key developmental role that Sindhura has taken on is representing Ebeni at NextGen, the offshoot of the British Aviation Group (BAG) that is aimed at young engineers within the BAG member companies.
“NextGen gives young engineers like me an opportunity to network with others within the aviation domain and understand what other companies do. Because of the nature of our work at Ebeni, we tend to come in late in project cycles, usually after all these other companies have completed their work. So it’s important for me to have the opportunity to go in and put our name out there and tell them what we do. I certainly don’t want them assuming I’m a Health and Safety consultant!
“Because the aviation sector is quite a small world, NextGen provides me with that opportunity to meet other young engineers who, in a few years’ time, will be the seniors and managers. It’s also an opportunity to find out the latest trends in aviation, especially how the industry is bouncing back from Covid-19 and the innovation strategies being adopted to address issues like Sustainability. What are the big airport groups like Heathrow and Gatwick doing? How are they managing with tighter budgets? What are the emerging projects at home and worldwide and how can we be involved?
“Historically the work that we get involved with doesn’t really influence much of the infrastructure. It’s the Air Traffic Management technology (the voice comms, radar, Air Traffic Control systems etc.) that we provide the safety assurance work for. But there are opportunities to get more involved in the wider infrastructure, including the airport planning phase; for example, expanding our expertise in airspace management during the development of runway infrastructure.”
The evolution of drone technology is another growth area for Sindhura and the structure of Ebeni across other sectors affords the opportunity to experience a variety of projects in different domains.
“I came straight into the ATM Business Unit when I joined because that was just developing, and I love the domain, I can’t imagine leaving it to do anything else now, but there are still opportunities to find other areas of interest within Ebeni. Defence? Rail? Cyber? Nuclear? We’re looking to develop our graduate programme and make more graduates aware of the opportunities they can find in Safety Engineering.”
And what about that interest in aircraft? Does she ever get to fly?
“I flew a Piper PA-38 Tomahawk as part of one of our uni modules – Flight Mechanics – and I had to induce various motions such as Dutch Rolls and Phugoids, needless to say I didn’t feel well by the time we landed. When it came to my Masters year, I joined the university gliding club but again, I got airsick pretty quickly. So I’m happy letting other people do the flying.”
Even so, Sindhura is flying high in her career at Ebeni and with the company supporting her in whatever direction she wants to take, the sky is the limit.