Starting as a technical officer (at that time the entry level for communication, navigation and surveillance professionals), Praveen Seth has risen to head more than just the CNS wing of the Airports Authority of India (AAI). As member (operations) in the AAI, he oversees all operations, including air traffic control, CNS and aerodrome, in this government organisation. Excerpts from an
The AAI is short of about 1,400 CNS professionals and there has been some issue in recruitment. What’s the current situation?
We are in the process of filling those seats. Recruitment is a time-consuming activity. There was a gap in recruitment due to some change in the recruitment policy. Unfortunately, expansion took place in that period and added to the vacancies.
What about the other openings?
There are a certain number of people who are taken in from the open market, through direct recruitment. And there’s a certain number who are promoted within the department. The process for both is on. The vacancies are across levels. This has already been taken up. Around June next year, we will take in about 500 executives through direct recruitment.
There’s a gap in vacancies in the upper echelons because recruitment takes time and with the opening of new airports, addition of new facilities and systems, the expansion of services took place much faster. Recruitment has to keep pace with that and we are doing exactly that.
When I joined the department (as a technical officer) in 1973, the Indira Gandhi International Airport had only one instrument landing system (ILS). Now there are five and another one is being installed. The airport then had only one active runway. Now, it’s spread over 5,000 acres, from Dwarka to Gurgaon. This growth in civil aviation is likely to continue for another few decades. So, from the career point of view, there is good potential and growth pattern.
If and when the CNS division is turned into a separate entity — the Air Navigation Services Corp (ANSC) — what impact do you think it will have on the human resources front?
What we have to look at is why it is needed. When work increases, we have to bifurcate responsibilities. We are at that stage in India. To meet growth challenges, we have to divide duties and responsibilities. That’s been the trend the world over. The seeds have been sown (for the ANSC). If it materialises, it may be a schedule A company, like the AAI is.
What are the other job avenues (outside AAI) for CNS professionals?
You can join the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). Our people have gone to its headquarters in Montreal and its regional headquarters in Bangkok. There’s also a requirement in the Middle East. Four to five of our associates had gone to Afghanistan, too.
Then, the department is going for computerisation of air traffic systems and peripheral activities in a big way. So, that sector is open. In CNS, we take care of the security apparatus, too, of which the Central Industrial Security Force is the end user. Once you have domain knowledge, you can join the manufacturers and suppliers (of CNS systems). Our associates have been taken up by manufacturers.
Praveen Seth Interviewed by Rahat Bano