Dar es Salaam — When Tanzania's first Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner touched down at the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) on Sunday, very few would have imagined that a Tanzanian was one of those who took part in its making.
However, the truth is that Mr George Jonas (pictured), who hails from Mbeya Region, was one of the technical members of staff for Boeing who took part in the manufacture of the 262-seater Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. The 41-year-old son of Mr and Mrs Labani Mwanjisya of Mbeya told The Citizen yesterday that he has been taking part in the manufacturer of Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners since 2015 as an employee for Boeing, an American corporation that designs, manufactures and sells airplanes, rotorcrafts, rockets, satellites and missiles.
Mr Jonas' story dates back to his days as a pupil at Ubungo's NHC Primary School.
"That was between 1985 and 1991," he said, noting that after completing his primary schooling he joined Azania Secondary School in Dar es Salaam for ordinary education before proceeding to Ilboru High School in Arusha for advanced secondary education. "At Ilboru, I studied science and took a combination Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics (PCM)," he said.
It was while at Ilboru High School that lady luck knocked on his door when he was selected by a group of American nationals who were looking for an ambitious young Tanzanian to work on part-time jobs in United States of America (USA) for three months. "I consider myself to have been the lucky one... .I had no connections then and my parents were not rich enough to send me abroad for studies," said Mr Jonas, noting that his father was at that time serving as a Tanzania People's Defence Force (TPDF) soldier.
While in the USA, he applied for university studies and was successfully enrolled at the Wichita State University where he studied for the award of a bachelor's degree in electrical and electronics engineering with a minor in mathematics.
That course was to take him to Bombardier Inc, a Canadian multinational aerospace and transportation company that is based in Montreal, Quebec. He specifically did his internship at Bombardier's Wichita plant in 2005, dealing particularly with Bombardier Learjet.
Upon completing his studies in 2007, he was employed on permanent terms and worked as electrical and avionics engineer at Wichita Bombardier Learjet Business Aircraft.
He worked there for four years before he joined Boeing in 2011 as an electronic avionics engineer. He was responsible for all systems of operating the aircraft.
It all started when he was browsing the internet and came across an advert for Boeing and he gave it a try.
"One day when I was at work, I received a call from Boeing, informing me that I was among the 50 candidates who were listed for a job interview... They sent me air ticket. I went for the interview confidently, knowing that I had nothing to lose because I was already employed at Bombardier," he explained.
Later on, he said, he was informed that he had made it and was thus required to move from Wichita to Seattle to work with Boeing.
While there, he undertook a number of training programmes. In 2015, he went for went for a master's degree in electrical engineering at the University of Washington.
"I have also undertaken several seminars at the University of Washington on Aviation Safety and Aircraft Certification... I also hold a certificate in advanced project management from the Stanford University a certificate in aviation," he said.
In Tanzania, he is conducting a project that is known as STEM. STEM is an abbreviation for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics specifically aimed at mainstreaming the project based learning and integrated learning to complement the formal secondary schools' science and mathematics curriculum.
Mr Jonas is married to Lucy Nyambeye-Jonas and they have two children - Imani Jonas, 16, and Ivan Jonas, 3.