Portrait of Aviation student Tino Masanga

Tinopuwanashe Masanga

Why did you decide to study at the University of Leeds?

I was looking for a university that had a robust aviation course that would set me up to be a pilot in the future. The University of Leeds was the only university that had an aviation program that would allow me to get some flying experience as well as prepare me for other roles within the aviation industry. Even though I had never visited the city, I had friends at the university who enjoyed living there and recommended it.

What have been the best aspects of studying on your course and why?

The 10 hours of flying in the summer after first year was an unforgettable experience and it gave me a glimpse into the world of flying. I had the opportunity to put into practice all the knowledge I had gathered during the year. I also really enjoy the small class sizes on my course, which allow students to get to know each other and gives lecturers the ability to make sure the needs of individual students are met.

Why did you want to undertake a year in industry?

My course introduced the huge variety of roles that are available in the aviation industry, which opened my mind to more than just wanting to be a pilot. I wanted the take the opportunity to work in the industry and apply the content from my course. More importantly, I wanted to gain experience early and develop a much more realistic view of what working in the aviation industry would be like.

What is your role at Heathrow Airport?

I work as an Airport Operations intern and my role has been within the Aerodrome Safety and Assurance team. My main responsibilities are publishing safety information and doing data and trend analysis of the safety behaviours on the airfield.

Do you get involved in any interesting projects?

There are always a lot of interesting projects at Heathrow and there are many things to get involved with. The best part of it all is that people are willing to get you involved in their projects and trials. As part of the internship, you have a passenger-focused project to complete with your fellow interns. Most of the projects end up being implemented, so you can be sure that the work you do will come to fruition.

How has your course helped you complete the work in your role?

Due to my role being in Aerodrome Safety, the Aviation Health and Safety module has been particularly useful in my day-to-day work. All the safety procedures and investigation techniques I learned in that module are used daily. I now have a better understanding of how my role fits into the wider safety culture of the industry because I had the knowledge from that module. My knowledge of Airline Pilot Theory also gives me a unique perspective to bring to the team.

What do you enjoy the most working about working at Heathrow Airport?

There is a clear display of care for the employees in the organisation. From the induction sessions, the managers have made it clear that wellbeing is important, and it is refreshing to be a valued part of the company.

I also enjoy going into the terminals and seeing people excited to go on holidays and excited to meet their loved ones. It is a clear indication of the impact that my work has.

Has your experience given you a better idea of what you want to do for a career?

The experience has opened my eyes to roles within the industry that I didn’t even know existed. I now know what I want to do and where my skillset fits into the industry. I am a lot more certain of where I want to take my career and how to get there.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned during your year in industry?

The most important thing I have learned is how crucial it is to have continuous personal development. It is essential to have the ability to learn new skills as well as develop current ones, since the industry will always be faced with changes and you need to constantly adapt to them. This also applies to soft skills like communication and teamwork – it is just as important to develop these as well.

Are you glad you have taken a placement? Would you recommend it to others?

I would definitely recommend a placement to others – especially Aviation Technology students. The course covers a lot of industry-relevant information and a year in industry gives you the chance to apply it. The university sets students up to stand out in the working environment and make a good impression to industry-leading professionals. A placement is your chance to learn about the industry and figure out what you want to do after you graduate.

Aviation student Tino Masanga standing under a large plane