BERNHARD SCHROPP, VICE PRESIDENT OF AVIATION AT WSP GENIVAR (AND A LICENSED PILOT)
A FLYING VISIT FROM
WHICH CAME FIRST – TRAINING AS AN ENGINEER OR TRAINING AS A PILOT?
Actually it was at the same time, while I was still in university. As a kid, I always wanted to be a pilot – it was part of my DNA from day one. Then at university, I started to gravitate towards airport engineering.
My degree was in civil engineering, and I happened to stumble upon a company that was starting to do airport projects, and that’s when it all clicked and I decided to get my licence.
A switch just went off in my head and I realised how much I loved airports and aviation.
DO YOU HAVE YOUR OWN PLANE? Yes, a 2009 Cessna Skylane T182T which can seat up to four. That was another life-long goal and I’ve been fortunate by way of my career and personal choices to have finally realised it. For the last 20 years I’ve been flying similar aircraft, including a six-passenger retractable gear Cessna 210 owned by my previous business partner. I have to thank him for his trust in my flying and opening the skies up for me. I hope to be able to do the same for other up-and-coming aviation planners or engineers who share the same passion for flying.
HOW DOES BEING A PILOT HELP YOU ON AIRPORT PROJECTS?
CONSULTANTS P CAN FLY INERSONALLY TO MEET THEIR CLIENTS
At the very start of my career, it was how we grew the aviation business. We would get in our plane and fly to our clients and prospects. For the most part our clients work at the airport, so once we arrive and park the aircraft, it’s a walk into the air terminal building and then to the boardroom. For a lot of our clients that was, and remains, how they’ve come to know us – ‘you’re the guys who fly in to see us’.
Today it gives us added credibility as full-service aviation consultants. A lot of the meetings we participate in include representation from airlines, commercial aircraft operators or pilot communities. Having someone who can study an issue from both the airport’s and pilot’s perspective really adds to our ability to manage expectations and facilitate discussions. The aircraft operators very quickly realise we can talk their language too. A lot of the airport management teams we work with are not pilots so we can help them understand and assess comments from the airline industry. I don’t fly 737s or 747s but I can speak the universal language of aviation – it’s just that my cockpit is slightly lower to the ground.
DO YOU STILL FLY TO WHERE YOU’RE WORKING?
Yes, it means I can get there faster and don’t have to get in a taxi and drive somewhere. The aircraft limits our practical service radius to about 500 nautical miles, but that still captures a large number of our clients. We also use the aircraft to carry out visual inspections of our airport construction projects, including activation of lighting and visual aid systems. The aircraft is also a great platform to take aerial photographs of our airports – just like you would drive up to a site and take photos, we can fly overhead and take pictures of the facilities to help with planning and design.
NOT MANY AVIATION
JUST LIKE YOU WOULD DRIVE UP TO A SITE AND TAKE PHOTOS, WE CAN FLY OVERHEAD AND TAKE PICTURES TO HELP WITH THE DESIGN
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