Hogeschool van Amsterdam

Aviation Academy

René Dijkema as Flight Operations Engineer @ KLM

Posted at: 28 Apr 2021 | Faculty of Technology

In 2018, René graduated from the Flight Operations Engineering track. After that, René has been working at KLM. Currently, he is a Flight Operations Engineer. He will tell us something about his experiences after graduation and his outlook on the future.

How did you get your current job?

After completing my internship in 2017 at KLM, I was given the opportunity to conduct my graduation assignment at the KLM Flight Ops Engineering team as well. Afterwards, I was asked to stay with the team: first on a temporary basis and later as the Editor for the OM Part C manual (operational route information).

After some time, I had the opportunity to transition to the role of Flight Ops Engineer, specializing in aircraft performance. This has all been within the KLM Flight Operations division where I have been supported in developing myself as an engineer.

What are your daily operations?

The Flight Ops Engineering team is part of the KLM Flight Standards & Compliance department and we are responsible for setting the operational standards and flight technical policies & procedures, as well as ensuring that our operational manuals (OM Part A thru D) are always compliant with all regulatory requirements.

My day-to-day work can be divided into two categories: ‘running the business’ work & projects. Examples of tasks & projects from the past year I worked on any given day:

  • Contributing to operational feasibility studies for new destinations,
  • Creating enroute contingency procedures for new shorter routes,
  • Introducing a more fuel-efficient standard take-off procedure,
  • Providing pilots and dispatch with accurate and compliant operational manuals,
  • Analyzing airport AIP & NOTAM information to keep our take-off performance database up to date,
  • Improving maximum payload by re-analyzing the engine failure procedures of performance critical runways,
  • Participating as a Subject Matter Expect in safety & risk analysis sessions, which are required before implementing new policies & procedures,
  • Assisting dispatch with take-off performance calculations in the middle of the night, for an airport to which a KLM flight had to divert due to a medical situation on board.

What do you like the most at your job?

Being able to make a true and tangible impact on the operational excellence of KLM and highest safety standards we manage every day.

Especially during COVID-times this was particularly tangible, ranging from helping to enable direct flights to Chili with new routes over high terrain in the Andes, to assist in enabling the B747 airbridge to China to bring in much needed medical supplies.

I enjoy being continuously challenged by different stakeholders required for making the examples mentioned above actually happen within a large organization such as KLM: management, pilots, dispatch, crew training, the safety department, to name a few.

And lastly, sometimes we can utilize the full-motion flight simulators to test-fly and validate challenging engine failure procedures at performance critical airports we designed, which is always an interesting experience.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Right now, I am happy with where I am. I am quite fortunate to be able to specialize in topics and competences I am truly passionate about.
For me, this position is the perfect combination of applying theoretical concepts towards practical operational solutions, which is why I choose to pursue Applied Sciences in aviation in the first place.

Over the course of the next 5 years, I will further develop my skills and expertise as an engineer, in particular the coordination of the implementation of complex and multi-disciplinary projects within KLM Flight Operations is an area I want to grow towards. The introduction and operationalization of a new aircraft type in the fleet would be an example of such a complex endeavor which might come along at some point.

My heart lies with KLM and over the course of the coming years I want to contribute to the post-COVID recovery of KLM as best I can, but who knows what other opportunities come along.

What did you like the most from your education that helps you out nowadays in your work?

The foundational knowledge I gained regarding take-off and landing performance is something I use every day now, and still build upon.

From my experience, the Flight Operations Engineering specialization fits well with what will be encountered while working in flight ops. The projects are quite representative of the type of problem-solving I apply daily. In particular, ‘Scenario 1 – Route Development (4th year)’ really stands out, as it is representative of a big part my day-to-day work now.

Are you still connected with the Aviation Academy?

In 2020, I was invited to present a guest lecture (in digital form due to COVID measures) to the 4th Year students of the Flight Operations Engineering specialization. In this lecture, I had the opportunity to discuss Enroute Performance and the creation of contingency procedures in case of engine failure or decompression with the students.

Furthermore, I am currently a company supervisor for a 3rd Year intern. My colleagues and I aim to facilitate an intern every semester, and it is always a great pleasure to help guide students in finding their way through their internship.

Professionals from the working field who take the opportunity to share their knowledge and experience is something I always greatly appreciated as a student myself and this way I can hopefully do the same in return for the current students and I certainly plan on continuing this when possible.