Fri Oct 21 11:24:46 CAT 2016


By Nawhal Kara | Oct 29, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

IF MEN think they are clever because they can replace an oil filter on a car, they should think again.

IF MEN think they are clever because they can replace an oil filter on a car, they should think again.

Sharon Kekana can build a plane from scratch - even with her eyes closed.

This 31-year-old from Mosesetjane in Limpopo is a quality controller for Denel Aviation and a whiz with all electronic and electrical work on aircraft.

She has the final say after an aircraft has been worked on and ensures that it adheres to the standards of the Airports Company of SA.

But her job requires an immense amount of responsibility considering that if a Denel plane goes down, investigations will be carried out into the cause of the crash.

Kekana said with that in mind, she has to focus every day and remind herself that every time she works on a plane that she is taking the lives of others into her hands.

"All my qualifications will be chopped should anything happen to a plane and it is discovered that it was because of a technical oversight," said Kekana.

But this tough gal has had sufficient training and expertise to notice the smallest fault.

She started out as a student at the Denel Centre for Learning and Development and after two years of study she became a technician.

She then obtained her engineers' licence rank before she became a quality controller.

"I have to schedule departmental audits on a monthly basis in order to maintain our quality standards," she said, explaining one of her major responsibilities.

"What I love most about my job is working on a scrap aircraft and a few months later seeing the same plane take off into the sky," Kekana said.

Her passion for the job earned her a government sponsorship a year ago to attend the TPG Academy in the Netherlands, where she studied project management.

"While I was there I worked for a company subcontracted to the European Space Agency. I learnt so much."

Kekana said she and her female colleagues have started a campaign to create awareness about careers in the aviation industry after realising that many people were not aware of it.

"Even my mother thinks that I break planes for a living," she said with a laugh.

Together with her colleagues, Kekana has started an NGO called Women Aviators in Africa (Wafric). She said the NGO exposes women to the aviation industry.

"At the moment we haven't been able to secure big funding. Our plan is to secure enough funding to sponsor the studies of at least one child per year," said Kekana, adding that they also distribute magazines and talk to children in schools as part of the awareness campaign.

With 20percent of Denel Aviation's workforce currently made up of women, Kekana hopes her campaign and the company's commitment to take part in programmes such as Cell C's Take a Girl Child To Work Day will attract more women to the industry.


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