ARX Aerospace and Defense, formerly known as Aviation Australia Riyadh College (AARC), is gunning toward being the best training organization in the defense, aerospace, and allied segments in the entire gulf region. The institute was established to support the development and growth of aviation and aerospace industries by providing applied practical training in aviation maintenance and engineering in the Saudi capital in 2014 at the King Khalid International Airport.
While the college had started out with a batch strength of 300 pupils, now has attracted as many as 5,000 students. Among the college facilities that were on offer from the beginning included a hanger and aircraft maintenance training environment. Over the years the college has incorporated newer technologies that have emerged within the industry with regard to the advancement of technology and have worked on training its pupils with the necessary skills to be a qualified professional and industry-ready.
The college insists that training will remain the key differentiating factor for organizations, especially in specialized sectors like aerospace and defense. The college constantly updates its training modules to ensure that students develop the necessary technical capabilities by using the most contemporary technologies and methodologies.
The rebranding was done earlier in 2022 keeping in mind the brand positioning that the school wants to achieve. Earlier to its name, the college was only identified as an aviation-only organization but the company wants to be a leader in the training space for other allied defense disciplines. The institute is of the belief that with the rebranding the institute can represent itself a little bit more truth in the marketplace even though the aerospace area remains the primary focus.
As the years have gone by, the college has introduced newer specializations. Speaking about the same, they say that they have understood the demand from the industry and responded accordingly. A bright example of this is courses on drone technology, that has seen a rapid rise in use by the government authorities and private companies for several purposes over the last few years. Today the company has courses on aviation maintenance, UAV pilot/operations, air defense diploma, E-war, and cybersecurity among others.
The college has also introduced specific modules for an avionics course as the demand for this stream was felt by the Saudi Royal Air Force and the homegrown civil aviation market alike. The primary goal of the college is to ensure that in the very near future that every single student of every batch gets placed in the industry upon graduation. Currently, the placement record for the batches is an impressive 95% approximately.
The companies take pride in training excellence, offering education and training to young Saudi Arabians seeking a career in the aviation industry. ARX aims to provide the market with skilled, motivated, and dependable technicians in line with KSA Vision 2030. The goal of the college is aligned with the Saudi Kingdom's Vision 2030 of localizing half of all military expenditures by the year 2030. One of the prime aspects of making this dream a reality is dependent on creating an able workforce that is homegrown and the institute is working toward that direction. Furthermore, they are creating a situation where Saudi nationals can seek opportunities abroad and creating a surplus of human resources that can be utilized as the industry segments grow gradually.
The college faculty is keen on creating the workforce of the future and contributing to those educational goals that sit within. With this, the college wants to continue creating opportunities for young Saudi men in the workforce and in the future, hopefully, even for young Saudi women. The institute first came to being as a joint venture between Saudi company Shamal Investments and Aviation Australia Brisbane. While on one hand, Aviation Australia Brisbane is a Queensland State Government established entity, Shamal has got the Saudi Arabia government’s clearance to operate in the sectors of security, intelligence, and military equipment.
Aviation Australia is a world-class registered training organization established by the Queensland State Government in 2001 to support the development of aerospace industry in both the Australian and international markets by providing applied practical training in aviation maintenance and engineering.
Shamal is a Saudi-owned company formed in 2003 to consolidate the financial investments and holding of its founding partners; it also provides consulting services to several foreign defense and security companies throughout the world. Shamal is approved by the KSA Ministry of Interior’s Department of Public Security to deal in security, intelligence, and military equipment.
Being a part of Shamal investments helps the college navigate the different regulatory compliances required for operating within the Saudi kingdom and also it leverages the credibility Shamal lends as a result of its brand recognition. With this the institution has run programs like ‘English on the bases, Type rating training for Airbus 320 MRTT and King Air aircrafts for the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF). Some of the private clients include Al Salam Aerospace Industries and UK’s BAE Systems. Global Business Outlook magazine spoke with the dean of the college Ian Smythe in an exclusive interview on the back of successful participation in the World Defense Show.
Q What is your company’s (ARX aerospace & defense) contribution to Saudi Arabia’s vision of localizing 50 % of the military expenditures?
Firstly, I would like to thank you for this interview to highlight the company’s value. ARX aerospace and defense, used to be Aviation Australia Riyadh College. We started in 2014 as a joint venture between Shamal Investments & Aviation Australia. The aim of this JV is to operate the International Aviation Technical College at Riyadh (IATC). Shamal investment has selected Aviation Australia to be its partner as it is a world-class registered training organization established by the Queensland State Government in 2001 to support the development of aviation and aerospace industries in both the Australian and international markets by providing applied practical training in aviation maintenance and engineering.
Recently, the company has worked on a big rebranding program that aims to reposition the company as a leader on the aerospace industry, which is came as an outcome of the company’s business expansion at Aviation, Aerospace & defense Industries. We at ARX aerospace and defense are aligning with 2030 Saudi Vision in three main pillars. We have strong integration with aerospace & defense industries, supporting 2030 vision by localizing 50% of the military expenditures. Another pillar is supplying Saudi Arabia’s aerospace and defense industries with highly skilled, motivated, and dependable Saudi manpower. Finally, we are contributing to Saudi Arabia’s economy by building Saudi talents to serve both local and global market.
Our alignment with KSA vision
Industry: Strong integration with aviation and defence industry, supporting KSA’s aim to become a global leader in the industry.
Manpower: Supplying Saudi Arabia’s aviation and defence with highly skilled, motivated, and dependable Saudi manpower.
Economics: Contributing to Saudi Arabia’s economy by increasing the number of Saudi skilled technicians.
Q Give us an idea about how many students you have trained so far.
ARX aerospace & defense is the operator of the International Aviation Technical College at Riyadh (IATC) since 2014. The IATC is an initiative of the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) and is supervised by colleges of Excellence (CoE) as a way of providing world-class vocational training to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Since we operated the college, we have had around 3000 graduates and 5000 current students in the college. These students have already been sponsored by different Saudi Military entities such as Royal Saudi Air Forces (RSAF), Royal Saudi Land Forces (RSLF), Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) and Ministry of National Guard (SANG). Also, some of our students are sponsored by different Saudi defense companies.
We consider ourselves as an international training provider which provides the highest quality of training with a goal to supply the aerospace & defense sector with highly skilled and motivated trainees by utilizing national & international experts. Using state of the art technology in educating & training. In IATC, we provide state of the art education in various aviation maintenance specialties. These are three-year training programs which begin with one year of intensive English language study followed by two subsequent years of technical and on the job training. Each specialization leads to a Diploma endorsed by TVTC.
IATC aims to provide the aviation market with skilled, motivated, and dependable technicians in line with KSA vision 2030. IATC’s dedicated employment services office facilitates career opportunities for current civilian students and graduates through seminars with interested employers within the aviation sector. IATC is a certified Aviation maintenance training school by the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) and all its civilian diploma programs are endorsed training (GACAR Part 147). Also, IATC operator (Aviation Australia) is an approved center for maintenance training and examination by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA Part 147).
Q Is ARX aerospace & defense thinking in terms of becoming a part of the global supply chain and creating an export market?
By Achieving international levels of excellence through our training, education, and development programs. Also, we focused on our clients due to our customized curriculum to each ministry, facility, and organization locally and globally. We believe in our strong curriculums and great infrastructure. Apart of our current local business in serving the Saudi market, we are aiming to serve the both national and international market with new specializations such as Aviation Maintenance, UAV pilot operations, Air defense diploma, E-war, Cyber security, Communication, Flight operations, Safety and Logistics.
Q What has been your company’s contribution to Saudi Arabia’s economy?
Contributing to Saudi Arabia’s economy by increasing the number of Saudi skilled technicians and supporting the Kingdome in Saudization initiative and transforming the international experiences and knowledge to the Kingdome of Saudi Arabia. With the oil price fluctuation and the economic recession, Saudi Arabia is striving for diversification of its economy. One of Saudi Arabia’s main focuses in achieving the mentioned intention is via promoting the growth and development of the aerospace and defense sector by investing in the infrastructure. Saudi Arabia's efforts in promoting its aeronautical industry have included increasing its military spending.
The Saudi Arabian military industry (Sami), Has been focusing on establishing strategic partnerships in aerospace and defense to support the goal of localizing 50% of the industry by 2030 in developing next generation technologies and producing world class defense products. The initiation and direct support of the Saudi Arabian government in the Human Development & Capability program release, which aims to enhance the current skills of its citizens in Saudi Arabia and become globally renowned in education and vocational training.
Q How has been the World Defense Show in Riyadh for Saudi Arabia in general and your company in particular? Did it yield any business for the ARX aerospace & defense?
The World Defense Show WDS was an outstanding exhibition. It is one of the biggest investment opportunities for building a sustainable partnership in the Aerospace & defense industries, which enriching the local market and build a training & job opportunity. The World Defense Show had many opportunities for the public sectors and who are interested in defense sector to see the most updated technologies and developments. Our participation goals to present our capabilities in the national and international market. we succeed in introducing ourselves to the national and global market as specialized training provider and one of our biggest projects is operating the International Aviation Technical College at Riyadh.
The World Defense Show has opened a lot of business opportunities to serve the Saudi militaries entities in the training fields. Fully integrated and future focused defense event set to showcase the latest technological developments from around the globe and demonstrate defense interoperability across all domains. World Defense Show is an interactive platform for governments and industry thought leaders from across the global defense and security supply chain, to help shape the future of defense. It was a pleasure meeting the decision-makers who are facing more complex choices regarding defense solutions than ever before. This makes interoperability across systems increasingly challenging. We develop and sustain a world leading defense & security exhibition in the heart of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Taking place at the core of the global supply chain, the show will bring together the largest players and start-up visionaries from the defense sector to collectively craft the future of defense.