'You're 500 km from the nearest airport. Terrain below is inhospitable. First, a fuel system failure. Then, you lose engine number one.' The situation sounds ominous but it is not impossible. And pilots have to be prepared. Experienced pilots, let alone young ones, hope never to experience such a situation. But it takes great skill, composure and the right judgment to be able to deal with it.

Aspiring pilots at the Dubai Aerospace Enterprise University (DAEU) spend much of their time practising for such eventualities: how to fly planes no matter the time, place, weather or circumstance.

For those who have dreamt of being a pilot ever since childhood, your dreams can now come true. DAEU is recruiting young pilots. The first batch of students will graduate during the 2011-2012 academic year.

Growing aviation industry

The Dubai International Airport receives millions of visitors a year and the UAE is expanding its airports to absorb the growth in the aviation industry. DAEU was established in 2006 in order to fulfil the rising demand for quality pilots and other workers in the aviation industry, according to Bill Hampton, director of marketing and communications.

"Research has shown that the demand for jobs in the industry will triple by 2015. There are 300,000 people working in the industry in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and India. The growth is phenomenal and the industry requires training and specialisation," Hampton said.

Degrees offered

The university offers bachelor degrees in aviation and martial piloting. Twenty students are currently enrolled in the university but the number is expected to rise to 300 next year. Hampton told Notes that the university is ensuring that students from the GCC and the Middle East are recruited every year.

Eight programmes will be introduced this autumn, Hampton said. Students will be able to enrol for a mechanical engineering and an aeronautical engineering degree.

Graduates interested in pursuing higher studies at the university can apply for an MBA in specialised aerospace management, air transport management, airport management and operations, and global logistics.

Hampton said that students do not have to have previous knowledge in any specific field, although it is preferable to have a basic knowledge of business when applying for an MBA.

In future, the university hopes to expand its programme offerings to include air traffic control and maintenance programmes.

There are seven faculty members, but the number will double in the summer as the student body grows. The faculty members are from Germany, Jordan, the US and other countries and have international experience.

It takes more than a pilot to fly

DAEU not only trains pilots, but also engineers, managers, and graduates for other fields.

The career services unit ensures that students have direct employment and internship opportunities. With a growing industry, this is not a problem.

The university also collaborates with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which sends professors to teach business, aviation economics, and other subjects.

Premises and equipment

The university currently operates out of Dubai Men's College in Academic City but will be moving to an independent building soon, according to Hampton. DAEU's students mainly practise at its Flight Academy based at Ras Al Khaimah airport.

If you're wondering whether students, who have never been in a plane before, actually fly the airplanes, the answer is, they do. The university has two airplanes that students can train in. The Cirrus SR-22 is one type: a small aircraft with high-tech avionics that resemble huge airplanes.

"The students enter the university and start as airline pilots from the first day," Hampton said. That is, after they go through a screening process that includes checking their vision and psychomotor skills. They start with light jets and move on to bigger planes that move at faster speeds.

For the students, this is not a tough task because in their opinion, wanting to fly is an inborn feeling and talent.

"I flew with an instructor all the way from Ras Al Khaimah to Umm Al Quwain. . . . I enjoyed it because this is something I have always wanted to do," said Sharihan Mashary, a UAE national who is currently doing a bachelors degree in flight and aviation management. "I always wanted to fly. I have a lot of relatives who are pilots, and my parents supported me 100 per cent," she added.

There are not many female pilots in the world, let alone the UAE. Sharihan says that that can change if more women are encouraged to enter this field.

"Women go into the air force but not into the commercial part of the industry," she said.

Her colleague Bharath Hariharan spoke about his experience flying over Ras Al Khaimah. "It took an hour and a half. I was very prepared and I knew what I was doing," he said.

Hampton supports the student belief that wanting to fly is an innate feeling. He said: "Students know from a very young age that they want to fly."

Courses required for aeronautical engineering programme

  • Engineering computing and visualisation lab;
  • English literature and composition;
  • Physics mechanics;
  • Calculus;
  • Introduction to aviation;
  • Chemistry of materials;
  • Professional communications;
  • Statistics;
  • Islam in a multicultural world;
  • Thermodynamics;
  • Aircraft structurals.

Admission requirements


  • Application for admission
  • Transcripts from years 10, 11 and 12
  • English language proficiency
  • Standardised test (SAT [Scholastic Aptitude Test] or ACT [American College Testing])
  • Two letters of reference
  • Passport copy
  • Personal statement


  • Application for admission
  • Bachelor degree
  • 3.0 GPA (Grade Point Average) recommended; 2.5 GPA minimum
  • English language proficiency
  • GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) for MBA applicants
  • Resume
  • Three letters of reference
  • Passport copy
  • Personal statement