Mthombeni ensures safety of air passengers

Maths, science key subjects into this field of work

Orefile Mthombeni is reaching new heights in the aviation industry.
Orefile Mthombeni is reaching new heights in the aviation industry.
Image: Vukuzenzele

Orefile Mthombeni is one of the people in the aviation space who ensures that an aircraft is safe before it carries passengers.

She is the technical standards specialist at state-owned Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS).

Mthombeni, from Bloemfontein in the Free State, leads a team responsible for checking if all safety procedures have been followed before passengers can come on-board an aircraft.

At age 30, she is also the first woman to hold this position within ATNS.

The ATNS provides air traffic, navigation and training services to SA as well as 10% of the world’s airspace.

“My job is basically to assure safety through technical audits and technical investigations on our communications, navigation and surveillance equipment.”

Mthombeni says the equipment is used to guide aircraft on the route to be taken in the sky. 

She also helps investigate failures of these systems and provides recommendations.

Mthombeni urges high school pupils who are interested in her field of work to choose mathematics and physical science. This can be followed up by a degree in electrical engineering at a university of technology or diploma at a technical, vocational education and training college.

“You will then be required to complete practical experience for your diploma at the Aviation Training Academy and get employed by ATNS for a minimum of five years,” she says.

Mthombeni joined ATNS in 2012 through the academy and completed practical experience for her national diploma in electrical engineering (light current).

She also holds a BTech in business administration and is currently studying towards a BCom with Unisa.

This article was originally published in GCIS's Vuk’uzenzele

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