Manoj Patankar on Becoming a Pilot
Becoming a pilot might seem like just a dream held by young children across the country. But many people have made that dream their reality. If you want to become a pilot, you need to put a considerable amount of time into training to reach your goal, points out Manoj Patankar, an aviation educator and pilot. It won’t be an overnight achievement, but with time and effort, you can make your pilot dreams come true.
Age and Language Requirements
There are a few very basic requirements you need to meet before you can begin the journey to become a pilot. You need to be at least 16-years-old and you need to have proof of age. You can’t earn a private or recreational pilot license until you’re 17, though. You also need to speak English fluently. English is the language used by air traffic controllers. You need to have a full understanding and grasp of it before you take to the skies.
Picking the Plane
The Federal Aviation Administration had different rules and requirements for getting a pilot’s license based on the type of aircraft you intend to fly. If you want to fly ultralight vehicles, you don’t need a license at all. The other types of aircraft that do require a license include helicopters, airplanes, gyro-planes, airships, and balloons.
Picking the Type
You’ll also want to choose the type of pilot you want to become. You can be a recreational pilot if you just want to fly planes for fun. If you want to make it a profession, you can become a private pilot or a commercial pilot. You’ll have to pass both a written and a practical test before you can become either.
If you want to learn to fly, all you need to do is find a reliable flying school and flight instructor. There are two types of schools: Part 61 and Part 141. Part 141 schools are audited by the FAA. Their courses need to be approved by the FAA. Students who attend a Part 141 school need to meet certain performance benchmarks. Part 61 don’t have such strict requirements in place.
The minimum training differs between the two schools too. You’ll need at least 40 hours of training at a Part 61 school, and only 35 hours at a part 141 school to become a private pilot. Commercial pilot training requires significantly more hours of training for both types of school.
In addition to looking at whether a school is Part 61 or Part 141, you also want to consider the school’s history and reviews. Do your research to find out about the school’s mission, how long it’s been in operation, and what other students have to say about it. Also find out if it has a high rate of success or if it has a lot of drop outs. Manoj Patankar also recommends paying a visit to the school. Talk to the instructors and current students to get a feel for the environment and see if the school’s atmosphere meshes with your attitude and expectations
Aviation Safety Hazards
People who dedicate their lives to understanding aviation safety hazards and working on ways to eliminate those hazards make it possible for everyone else to enjoy the freedom of flying. Most people don’t like to think of the hazards involved in flying on an airplane. But, hazards are something that those who design and build aircraft must seriously consider or else thousands of people’s lives could be at stake.
Weather Related Hazards
Anyone who’s tried to take an airplane in the winter in a cold climate is familiar with the hazards presented by icy or snowy weather. Ice and snow can present a hazard both in the air and on the ground. For example, if an airplane tries to land in the ice or in snowy conditions, it is likely that it will slip across the runway. There have been cases of airplanes sliding while trying to land, resulting in loss of life of people on the ground.
Ice can also limit an airplane’s ability to get off of the ground. Even the smallest amount of ice on a plane’s wing can interfere with the lift of the plane. Regulations prohibit ice and snow buildup on the wings and tail of a plane to reduce the risk of accidents.
Airplanes have a few methods for dealing with ice that builds up on the wings. Some planes have wings that heat up, so that any ice that forms during the trip melts off. Other planes have inflatable boots that push on the ice and cause it to break and fall away.
Getting struck by lightning in the air is almost inevitable. On average, most aircraft are struck by lightning twice a year. Although most planes are able to withstand a lightning strike, aviation professionals are developing airplanes that are made of materials that resist lightning.
Birds and Foreign Objects
Birds in the air present a safety hazard to airplanes. There have been deadly accidents as a result of a bird getting sucked into a plane’s engine or a bird crashing into the cockpit window with enough force to smash it. Most larger planes are able to withstand having a bird ingested by the engine, but smaller planes might not be able to handle the bird.
Other foreign objects can that present a hazard when flying include hail and other debris flying through the air. Objects can also be left in the engine during a repair. Some accidents have resulted when a plane hit another piece of a damaged plane in the air.
Center for Aviation Safety Research
Although some people are nervous about flying, most never spend any time thinking of ways to make aviation safer. The opposite is true for people such as Manoj Patankar, who founded the Center for Aviation Safety Research at Saint Louis University. The center receives the bulk of its funding from the Federal Aviation Administration. It was launched thanks to a $4.25 million grant.
The mission of the Center for Aviation Safety Research is simple. The center was founded by the U.S. Congress to research next generation technology and maintenance and to solve critical safety research questions in the field of aviation. The Center has identified seven systemic safety research priorities:
- Multi-risk analysis
- Safety culture
- Incident investigation
- Next-generation safety assessment and lab
- Safety Management Systems
- Maintenance Aviation Safety Action programs
- Next-generation maintenance and engineering
Each year, the Center for Aviation Safety Research hosts a number of conferences. An annual conference looks at Safety Across High-Consequence industries. The SAHI conference provides a more formal structure to what had previously been an informal network of professionals in the field of safety.
Previous conferences supported by the Center include:
- The FAA Safety Management System Gap Analysis Conference
- Safety Management Systems Scalability Conference
- Educational workshops for the Safety Across High-Consequence Industries conference
Fellowships and Professional Development
Since the Center for Aviation Safety Research is housed in the Parks College of Engineering, Aviation, and Technology at Saint Louis University, it makes education a priority. The center provides fellowships to students in a number of areas. It also has opportunities for continuing education for leaders in the field.
Students at Saint Louis University are invited to participate in the research conducted at the Center. They also have the opportunity to enroll in dual-listed advanced classes. The Center also recently sponsored a Graduate Student Poster Contest. The contest awarded a total of $4,750 in prizes to students who submitted the winning ideas.
The fellowships are awarded to people conducting research in one of six areas, including safety culture assessment and incident analysis. People apply for the fellowship by submitting a short research proposal, a bibliography, CV, project goals, project background, and a budget and schedule for the project, along with a completed application form.
If awarded the fellowship, a person will have five months for research. They are then expected to present their research at the annual SAHI conference. Their research will also be published in the International Journal for Safety Across High Consequence Industries.
Professional development courses offered by the Center are designed for organizational leaders. Each course is taught by an expert in safety who has extensive research and field experience. The courses take place over a period of two days. The first day lasts from 8am to 5pm and the second day from 8am to 2:30pm.
The Center offers a total of four courses for professional development. After completion of each course, a person receives a certificate. They can earn Certification in Aviation Safety for Managers if they complete all four courses. Some might be eligible for professional development credits for completing the courses.
Manoj Patankar’s career in aviation and education spans a period of more than two decades. Throughout the course of his career, he has shown that he is committed to his students, to his industry, and to serving the general public. Patankar has been recognized as a leader in his field. He’s won several awards and has made strides in the world of education and aviation.
His Own Education
No great educator is born that way. Manoj Patankar has to work hard to get to where he is today. Patankar’s education began in Mumbai, India. There, he attended the Aeronautical Training Center. In 1989, he earned his diploma in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering from the school.
After finishing at the Aeronautical Training Center, Patankar traveled to the United States. He enrolled at the St. Louis University, Missouri, where he earned a bachelor of science in Aeronautics. He then attended the University of Central Missouri, where he completed a master of science in Aviation Safety. Dedicated to learning as much as he could, Manoj Patankar decided to enroll at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He earned his Doctor of Philosophy in Computing Technology in Education.
In addition to his degrees, Patankar continued to study and research in his field. His papers and presentations have won him a number of accolades and awards. In 2001, the University Aviation Association awarded him the Sorenson Best Paper Award. He also received the Sorenson award for Excellence in Aviation Research and Scholarship in 2004 from the University Aviation Association.
2004 was a big year for Patankar. Saint Louis University presented him with the Presidential Citation for Excellence in Research. He also received the Alpha Sigma Nu Jesuit Book Award from the Jesuit Honor Society that same year. In 2008, Saint Louis University also presented him with the Grant Winner Award for Excellence in Research.
Patankar’s career as a teacher began while he was still in school. In 1991, he worked as an instructional assistant in Aviation Electronics at Saint Louis University. When he entered the graduate program at the University of Central Missouri, he worked as a teaching assistant in the Department of Power and Transportation.
His teaching career took off after he earned his master’s degree. From 1993 until 2001, he rose through the teaching ranks at the San Jose State University in California. He began teaching at the college as an Assistant Professor of Aviation. In 1999, he was tenured and promoted to the position of Associate Professor. Subsequently, he became the Aviation Program Coordinator.
During his time at the school, he taught a range of subject areas, including power plants, systems and avionics. In total, he taught 15 different courses over the span of his career at the school. As the program coordinator, he acted as a mentor to students, dealt with the department’s budget, and worked on increasing enrollment in the program.
Saint Louis University
After his time at San Jose State University, Manoj Patankar returned to Saint Louis University, where he became the Graduate Program Coordinator in the Department of Aviation Science. He also helped establish the school’s PhD program. Today, it’s one of only two PhD programs in Aviation in the US.
As the Program Coordinator, Patankar has several remarkable achievements. He prepared and managed noteworthy budgets, established several educational conferences, and started the country’s first completely online master’s program in aviation safety management. He earned tenure at Saint Louis University in 2002.
He held the position of Graduate Program Coordinator from 2002 to 2004. After that, he was promoted to the position of full professor and then became the department chair in Aviation Science. As the chair, he had the responsibility of designing and planning the department’s curriculum. He also managed the department’s staff and faculty members.
In previous positions, he had demonstrated his ability to create effective budgets and financial plans. As the Aviation Science department chair, Patankar had the responsibility for developing and overseeing the department’s multi-million dollar budget. His department’s budget included two research programs that were funded by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Patankar has continued to move up the ranks at Saint Louis University. He became the Dean of the Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology. In 2009, he was selected to the position of Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer at the school.
Manoj Patankar: Other Contributions
Patankar has shown himself to be a leader not only in the classroom or in an academic setting. He’s also demonstrated his leadership and knowledge on the page. He’s written more than 50 publications for academics. He’s also written four textbooks and has written texts that focus on aviation safety. In addition to mastering writing, Patankar has shown talent and skill in language. He’s able to communicate in six different languages.
One of his texts is called Safety Culture: Building and Sustaining a Cultural Change in Aviation and Healthcare. He wrote the book with a team of co-authors. The textbook outlines a “Safety Culture Pyramid,” which provides instruction on four levels of safety culture: value, strategies, climate and performance of safety at work.
Another book written by Patankar and his team is Safety Ethics. The text is designed not only for those in the aviation industry, but also for hospitals, the occupational health and environmental health industry. The book asked students and other readers to examine safety not only from a risk management standpoint, but also from an ethical standpoint.
Working with James C. Taylor, Patankar wrote and published a pair of books in 2004. The first book, Risk Management and Error Reduction in Aviation Management, was intended to improve safety in the field. It examined how human error reduces the mechanical safety of aircraft. The book was published alongside of a supplemental text, Applied Human Factors in Aviation Maintenance: A Practical Guide to Improving Safety. The supplement outlines techniques aircraft personnel can use to reduce hazardous conditions on planes and other aircraft.
As the author of several practical guides to the aviation industry, Manoj Patankar has demonstrated his influence in the field of aviation. His reach extended beyond the classroom and world of academia. By focusing on safety, Manoj Patankar has helped to make the world a bit of a safer place for anyone who flies.