Each month, the Connected Aviation Today team connects with industry experts to learn about what brought them to the world of aviation, get their insights about the future of the industry, and learn valuable advice they have for others in the space. This month, we had the pleasure of connecting with Somnuk Rongthong, President of Aeronautical Radio of Thailand, Ltd. (AEROTHAI).
AEROTHAI is a state enterprise under the Ministry of Transport and operates the Air Navigation Services over Bangkok Flight Information (Bangkok FIR). AEROTHAI also provides the related aeronautical communication services to airline operators and other works assigned by the government. The vision for the organization, under the leadership of Somnuk, is to become an Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) with international standards of excellence. Somnuk was recently appointed the President of AEROTHAI in July of 2018, bringing decades of experience in the field with him.
Here is what he had to say about his career path and his advice for the next generation of the aviation industry professionals:
Connected Aviation Today (CAT) Editors: Congratulations on the recent appointment to President of AEROTHAI. Tell us about how you got to where you are today?
Somnuk Rongthong (SR): I started my career as an engineer officer at AEROTHAI in 1984 and gained more experiences in software and hardware engineering. In 1994, when I was a Software Analyst and Developer, I designed and developed the Automatic Message Switching System (AMSS), which has been used for Aeronautical Fixed Telecommunication Network (AFTN) messages switching in Thailand. In 2000, as Director, Software and Information Systems Department and Acting Director, Management Information System Department, I developed our Y2K confrontation strategy and directed its operation to ensure Y2K compliance of all air traffic control systems to bring about a smooth and trouble-free transition. From 2011 to mid-2018, I functioned as Executive Vice President and oversaw Air Traffic Engineering, Policy and Strategy and Business Development. Now, it is with great pleasure that I assume the role of President.
CAT Editors: What have been a few defining moments in your career?
SR: One of my memorable moments flashed back to the history of Suvarnabhumi International Airport in 1996. As the Vice President, Air Traffic Service Engineering and Development Bureau of AEROTHAI, I designed and drafted technical specifications for the Communication and Surveillance Systems for the new Airport.
Another remarkable moment was the in-house development for the Air Traffic Flow Management Advisory Systems, named the Bay of Bengal Cooperative Air Traffic Flow Management Advisory Systems, or BOBCAT, leading to its acceptance and use by the aviation community in the Asia/Pacific Region in managing the air traffic through Kabul FIR. This is another thing that I’m proud of, as it really benefits the aviation industry as a whole, in terms of flight efficiency and reducing fuel consumption.
CAT Editors: At this point in your career, what excites you about your role in the industry?
SR: In the aviation industry, we must cope with changes and challenges, such as air traffic growth. For Thailand, the average annual growth rate in the past 10 years is eight percent and its estimated to increase to more than one million flights in 2018, while we have limited resources.
AEROTHAI has undertaken the Thailand Modernized CNS/ATM System Project, or TMCS, to develop air navigation infrastructure and accommodate the growth, which is expected to be completed next year. Meanwhile, the route structure is being reconsidered and adjusted to enhance the efficiency of air traffic service.
Another significant aspect is the cooperation among aviation partners. AEROTHAI worked with the partners in the Asia-Pacific region to facilitate aeronautical information sharing and encourage seamless ATM to enhance ATM capacity and harmonization in the region.
As the President, I emphasize the significance of innovation. I consider that innovation improves the process of problem solving and enhances corporate performance. I encourage staff to create innovation. Recently, our staff received the Outstanding Innovation award for the invention of Monitoring and Identification of Interference for Air Traffic Service from Outstanding State-Owned Enterprise (SOE) Awards 2018. This innovation is used to detect the interference signal from broadcasting of non-standard radio stations causing interference to aircraft system, as well as between the pilot and the air traffic controller.
CAT Editors: For those who are just starting out in the aviation industry, what’s your advice for them?
SR: The aviation industry comes with opportunities and challenges, so you should prepare for what it may bring. Safety, efficiency, and integrity should be always maintained. When you strictly follow the manual of operations, errors will not occur. You must maintain quality of services and standards in order to meet all stakeholders’ requirements, while remaining cost efficient at all times.
CAT Editors: What’s one thing we should know about you that we wouldn’t get from your bio?
As I have an engineering background, I always focus on systematic ways of doing things. I apply this systematic approach in my work and in my life. So, whenever changes may come, systematic and logical thinking as well as common sense will help you get through any problem.