Despite a disability, he’s pursuing his passion for aviation at Safran
With the help of nonprofit association Hanvol, a Safran partner, Abdelmadjid Benyahia is doing an industry placement at Safran Landing Systems as part of his engineering studies. He talks about the welcome and support he’s received since he arrived.
“Disability should never be a barrier — you need to stay positive and keep pushing forward,” he says. With this mindset, Abdelmadjid, 27, is turning his dream of becoming an aeronautical engineer into reality. “As a boy, I loved watching planes take off. I used to wonder how such a big heavy object could fly!” After high school, he went to ENAC — a French engineering school specializing in civil aviation — then got his first job as a flight dispatcher with an airline. A few years later, he decided to pursue a postgraduate degree in mechanical engineering.
Student seeks disability-friendly company
However, Abdelmadjid was born with a motor disability, which is gradually getting worse. For his placement, he needed a disability-friendly company, since he uses a wheelchair. So, he turned to Hanvol — a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide training and find jobs in the aerospace industry for people with disabilities. “I came across Hanvol a few years ago at the Paris Air Show,” he says. “They helped me with my resume and cover letter, which they sent to their partner companies — one of which is Safran. And when an opening came up at Safran Landing Systems, they helped me prepare for the interview. It all went smoothly and I got the job!”
For a year now, Abdelmadjid has been part of the Product Support Engineering (PSE) team at the Landing Gear division in Vélizy* near Paris. Alongside the 20 colleagues in his team, he manages in-service events that could affect Falcon, ATR or Airbus A380 aircraft. Ahead of Abdelmadjid’s arrival, his mentor worked with the disabilities and facilities managers at the site to ensure all the necessary accessibility and other provisions had been made. These included automatic sliding doors on the ground floor of the building, a new wheelchair-friendly layout of the PSE unit, with wheelchair access to the restrooms, and a mobile workbench. “They asked me what I needed and put everything in place. My workspace is perfectly adapted to the constraints I face. And my job is so exciting. I’m learning every day, and my coworkers are keen to share their knowledge. I really feel part of the team.”
His advice to students with a disability? Never give up! “Having a disability makes daily life harder,” he admits. “But you just need to keep pushing forward, because it really is possible to make your dream come true, as I can testify. Companies today are doing more than ever. And as Safran has shown, by working together we can make real progress and help people thrive in the workplace — whatever your disability.”
*Safran’s Vélizy site is compliant with the AFNOR standard for disability-friendly organizations.