Picture books to packing pandas
Published: 12 Feb 2016
As manager of flight operations at the FedEx Asia Pacific hub in Guangzhou, Daniel Deng is living his dream of applying his learning and is happy in his work, even when he is faced with having to plan for exceptional events.
What got you started in the aviation industry?
There were only a few entertainment options when I was a teenager. Reading was one of my hobbies. After school, I spent most of my time in the library or in bookstores. One day I read a chapter about airplanes in an encyclopedia. It described various aircraft with short stories and nice pictures. The stories fueled my imagination about how they would fly. I thought it would be terrific if I could take a flight or even operate an aircraft. My curiosity drove me to go to the Civil Aviation College, where I majored in air traffic management.
My aviation career began in 1984, after I graduated. I started as an airport tower controller and for more than 20 years, I worked for almost all the air traffic control units, including approach control, area control centre, air traffic management and training departments around Shenyang, Shanghai, Zhuhai and Guangzhou.
An encyclopedia chapter about aeroplanes ignited a passion for flight
I continued my education and gained all the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) licenses and had the privilege of participating in many air traffic control (ATC) projects, such as the South China routing programme and the mid-south air traffic management bureau reduced vertical separation minimum design, which were critical to my career development.
In addition, my time as a supervisor for helicopter operations in Zhuhai helped enrich my knowledge of the aviation industry.
What led to FedEx?
Since 2008, I have been a member of the IATA Asia/Pacific North Asia Regional Coordinating group, whose role is to improve aviation safety, security and operation efficiency. That year, I joined FedEx and got my US Federal Aviation Administration aircraft dispatch license. Based at the FedEx Asia Pacific (APAC) hub at Guangzhou, I’m manager of flight operations. I’m responsible for air operations in APAC and maintaining safety and efficiency, especially for flights connected to the FedEx APAC hub. I handle 250 flights every week at more than 20 APAC airports.
How large is your team?
I have 15 people, mainly divided into two groups. The ramp tower controller group is in charge of aircraft movement and deals with ATMB. With another administrator, we work on ATC projects and the contracts with airport authorities. The flight operations administrator group handles crew members’ flight services and the office daily administration.
Is it as much fun as you expected?
I’m lucky I can apply my learning to practical work and have a chance to make my dream come true, while doing a job I really love. It’s inevitable to come across challenges. The most difficult challenge is handling exceptions. Sometimes with very short notice, I have to co-ordinate and negotiate with authorities to obtain a slot or approval for nonscheduled flights to cover the operations at some other APAC ramps to ensure our service quality, and that customers get packages on time. The process is a struggle, but I feel a true sense of accomplishment after we manage an exception.
Is it rewarding?
I’m thrilled FedEx not only focuses on business development, but also pays attention to public services. We have successfully helped the government transport pandas from China to the USA, France, Scotland and Canada. We also sponsored the transport of 60 showjumping horses between Shanghai and Belgium for the 2014 Global Champions Tour. Besides the co-operation among internal groups – for example local ramp operations, finance, legal and sales – I’m the point of contact to liaise with CAAC for flight schedules and approvals. I always learn and better understand the FedEx mission through projects like these. It makes me feel satisfied with what I’m doing every day.