Singapore’s Changi Airport is one of Asia’s best-connected airports, with over 100 airlines and routes to more than 330 cities worldwide. Last year alone, approximately 62 million passengers passed through the airport gates, with an aircraft either landing or taking off on an average of every 80 seconds.
To keep this system running like clockwork is a complex task – a challenge that the committed professionals at Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) have boldly taken up. Their overall goal? To build and shape the future of civil aviation and to make CAAS a leading force in international aviation. We speak to one such professional, Benjamin Hong, Deputy Manager for Standardisation and Planning, and Digital Transformation, on how the organisation has helped him develop wings to soar in these roles.
Stepping Up to the Plate
Benjamin’s interest in air travel began at a young age, and he sought a career that could merge his passion for flying with contributing to Singapore’s success as a nation. As such, a career with CAAS, he says, seemed almost a natural path for him to take. “A career with CAAS offers deep engagement in the field of aviation. Also, the aviation industry is complex and diverse, so each day presents different and interesting challenges that keep me on my toes and provides me with the personal challenge I want,” Benjamin explains.
The CAAS Scholarship is an unrivalled opportunity for one to gain a higher education, the first step in crafting a promising future. “It enabled me to further my education and pursue undergraduate studies in Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and subsequently a postgraduate degree in Management Science at Columbia University, both located in the USA. It was during this time that I was exposed to different cultures and perspectives, a time that I look back and recall as invaluable to my development,” he reflects.
However, beyond the chance for overseas life, Benjamin is most grateful for the various attachments he was afforded - both in different functional groups in CAAS as well as in the broader aviation sector, and has enjoyed regular rotations that enabled him to work on different portfolios across the industry. The breadth of perspective, he believes, has helped deepen his understanding of the work CAAS does and the aviation industry on the whole. It has also put him in good stead to think about aviation issues from different angles, a skill that is crucial to his daily work.
Benjamin Hong Jun-Yang
CAAS Overseas Undergraduate Scholarship
Deputy Manager (Standardisation and Planning) / Deputy Manager (Digital Transformation)
Bachelor of Science with University Honors
(Electrical and Computer Engineering)
Carnegie Mellon University, USA
Master of Science (Management Science and Engineering)
Columbia University, USA
Transforming the Industry
Being on the regulatory side of CAAS means Benjamin’s focus is on how safety in the aviation sector can be enhanced and promoted. It is work that requires close collaboration with local and international partners and a keen understanding of emerging technology. “Ultimately, transformation in the digital space is the next wave of progress,” he notes.
Benjamin adds that the aviation sector is closely intertwined with technological advancement. This means that each new digital transformation is capable of exponentially increasing the potential benefits that the aviation sector can reap. “With improved access to data and sustained developments in automation across the entire system, we are likely to see air travel continue to become more efficient, cost effective, and accessible to the world at large,” he says.
The challenge with this, Benjamin continues, is to identify how CAAS can harness this potential in favour of the public, and simultaneously foster the growth of Singapore’s aviation industry in the face of our unique challenges. However, he feels it is his privilege to be part of the CAAS team working in this growing space and he looks forward to seeing how CAAS will evolve and develop to fully realise its digital potential in the future.
Look Upward to a Dynamic Future
Benjamin encourages those interested in aviation to explore the CAAS scholarship. “The work is tangible. Each aircraft that lands and takes off safely is testament to the good work done by each officer,” he says.
He also advises one to prepare for work that is dynamic and fast-moving; the job is not routine, but requires deep and critical thought from officers, as well as the ability to understand things from a comprehensive range of perspectives. “This also means that there is never a dull moment - we are consistently rising to the challenge and putting our collective best feet forward. The sustained satisfaction gained from engaging in this work provides the thrust we need to continue pushing the boundaries for aviation in Singapore,” he concludes.