Afghanistan: Shukoor Ullah Yaar, air traffic controller trainee

Shukoor Ullah Yaar, air traffic controller trainee in Afghanistan

Shukoor Ullah, 23, is one of 16 prospective civilian air traffic controllers in Afghanistan, the first ones after many years of war and conflict. He was selected from 240 applicants and is now proud to be at the service of Afghanistan‘s civil aviation industry. GIZ is supporting the training of civilian air traffic controllers and the establishment of a civilian aviation safety authority on behalf of the German Foreign Office.

You are training to become an air traffic controller. What does this mean to you?
It means a lot to me. Afghanistan‘s aviation sector is virtually inexistent and the pilots have left the country because of the constant state of war. Our country needs air traffic controllers like me. I always wanted to become a pilot but it seemed impossible in my country. When I finished school, I had no idea what to do, I was disoriented. The training changed everything in my life, my attitude, my way of learning. This is the closest I could get to all I’ve been dreaming about.

The lesson plan must be very extensive. What have you learned so far?
We started with aviation English. We continued with aviation law, phraseology, meteorology and the international aviation convention. Then we were sent to India for a four-month simulator training – that was great. Right now we are preparing for an on-the-job training in Bangladesh.

How do you finance your studies?
We get a small monthly salary so we can concentrate on the lessons and don‘t need to work on the side.

Are you planning to stay in Afghanistan, or do you intend to move away?
That was the plan from the beginning, that we should take over the Mazar airport tower as licensed air traffic controllers when the ISAF forces leave. So we will be assigned to my hometown of Mazār-i Sharif, which I think is good. I prefer to stay near my family – my two brothers, six sisters and my parents.

What do you think makes Afghanistan special?
To me, Afghanistan is the most beautiful country in the world. I love it. The people are so kind and gentle, and they are anything but terrorists.

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    Shukoor is training to become an air traffic controller. When he graduates he will be among the first generation of civilian air traffic controllers in Afghanistan.
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    The trainees have completed a four-month simulator training in India. But before they obtain their licences they will undergo further practical training in Bangladesh.
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    The young Afghan controller will complete his training in early 2014. If all goes well and he receives his licence, he will work at the Masar-e Scharif airport.
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    The class still has to get used to the strict German instructors. GIZ is conducting the theoretical component of the training. Photos: Sandra Calligaro
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    The students learn how to work with the radar. Practising radio instructions requires utmost concentration.
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    The students have to study a lot of theory such as aviation law, meteorology and other subjects, which they continue studying even during recess.
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    The lesson plan allows enough time for ritual prayers.
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    In the shared four-bed rooms at the training centre in Kabul, the trainees listen to music after classes....
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    …or practice some more English aviation vocabulary.