Captain Kevin Khoo’s Epic Aviation Career

Capt Kevin Khoo’s epic aviation career, a budding aviator’s stellar role model

Aviation Passion: Look where it got me! Photo by Captain Kevin Khoo

In the vast and ever-evolving world of aviation careers, there are individuals whose passion and dedication have paved the way for remarkable achievements. I was very fortunate and honoured to have stumbled on the chance to work with a few dynamic young and enthusiastic “budding aviators” in 1996.

Captain Kevin Khoo’s epic aviation career is one such inspiring story. His unwavering love for aviation has propelled him to the pinnacles of success. His humble beginnings as an apprentice Aircraft Maintenance Engineer to becoming the head of a respected and distinguished Flight Training Organisation, is truly a story of aviation passion and perseverance.

Early Beginnings: Nurturing Aviation Passion

Kevin’s love affair with aviation began at a tender age, building and making everything that could fly. It ignited a fascination that would shape the course of his life.

As a young man of 18, he embarked on his journey when Malaysia Airlines selected him as an Apprentice Aircraft Maintenance Engineer. It was a formative period for honing his technical skills and developing a deep understanding of the intricate workings of aeroplanes.

Capt Kevin Khoo is standing in the centre. Image by Capt Kevin Khoo

Kevin’s aviation passion and talent opened the door for me to really discover his genuine interest. It occurred when I collaborated with the Association of Malaysia Airlines Aircraft Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineers Association (AMALAE) in 1995. The president of the Association then, Mr Abdul Rashid Shariff, my dear friend and a die-hard aviator, embarked on an exciting project to build an experimental aircraft.

The Zodiac CH 601 HD experimental aircraft building project differed from other similar amateur projects. Our project, to build an experimental recreation aircraft from ground zero from just drawings, would meet the quality, standards and engineering practices of commercial aviation engineering. 

Kevin’s superior and articulate approach was evident from his technical knowledge and his creative side. This is exactly what the project team needed! The livery of the first of four aircraft built by the then ESB Flying Club dawned a unique and creative livery designed by him to blend with the Malaysia Airlines aircraft liveries then.

Kevin’s livery design in the news! In Capt’s seat AMALAE President, Abd Rashid Shariff

Expanding Horizons: From Aircraft Maintenance Engineer to Aircraft Pilot

Kevin quickly rose and became a Malaysia Airline Lead Line Engineer after earning his CAA UK and DCA Malaysia Aircraft Maintenance Engineer’s Licence. His career took a surprisingly favourable turn, when an opportunity presented itself.

Singapore Airlines offered him a pilot cadetship, and Kevin seized the chance to expand his horizons. He underwent rigorous aircraft pilot training with Singapore Airlines, emerging as a skilled aviator, and was awarded the title of best cadet pilot in 2001.

We lost contact for many years. When we reconnected, I realised just how dedicated and talented Kevin was. I learned that he rose through the ranks and became an instructor on the B777 aircraft. 

A crowning achievement came when he was honoured to be in the initial group of crew members to operate the A380 aircraft on the world’s first commercial flight. This is an addition to ferrying one new A380 from Toulouse to Singapore for initial service when Airbus delivered the A380 to its launch customer, Singapore Airlines

A part of the operating crew who of the first commercial A380 flight in the world! Photo by Captain Kevin Khoo

Kevin’s exciting and “aviation romantic” journey did not stop there. His expertise and experience could not go unnoticed! Head-hunters soon caught up with him, and became a sought-after figure in the aviation industry. The Singapore Technologies Aerospace Academy soon knocked on his door.

Kevin was appointed as the President of the Academy with the rank of Captain, for the A320 Aircraft Type. This pivotal role was an opportunity to continue his passion for teaching and create more “Kevins” along the way. Training cadet and senior aircraft pilots for international legacy and LCC carriers for their future roles took centre stage, transitioning many of them into A320 pilots through the new MPL (Multi-Crew Pilot Licence). It was an epic point in his career.

Kevin was on a roll, and there was no stopping him! His success as an aircraft pilot trainer caught the attention of CAE, a global leader in aviation training and flight simulator manufacturer.

They enticed and appointed him as the Director of Regional APAC Program Management. Today, Kevin serves CAE as General Manager of a CAE entity in Japan, doubling as the Regional General Manager for the North Pacific Region for CAE.

Aviation Passion: The Importance of Aviation Hobbies

With RC, you can fly anything! Photo by Captain Kevin Khoo

Throughout his meteoric rise in the aviation industry, Kevin has remained grounded, nurturing his aviation passion through various aviation hobbies and endeavours. His love for RC aero models has been a constant companion, and he continues to tinker with these miniature marvels, keeping his hands and mind engaged in the world of aviation, particularly in engineering and flight sciences. He sparks aviation passion by engaging with students from primary to university levels through his regular aeromodelling activities and lectures.

How it all started, Kevin of Ipoh, Malaysia, 3rd from left. Photo by Capt Kevin Khoo

Kevin’s story is a powerful reminder to aspiring budding aviators. Dreams are indeed achievable when approached with diligence and passion. His humble beginnings and unwavering dedication have paved the way for his success. Now, he aspires to share his experiences with the next generation of budding aviators.

As a successful aviator, Kevin offers valuable advice to those who dream of soaring through the skies:

  1. Nurture and persevere pursuing your aviation passion:
Everything works en route to aviation dreams. Photo by Capt Kevin Khoo
  • Embrace your love for aviation and let it guide your path.
  • Engage in aviation hobbies and activities to keep your passion alive and growing.
  • Avoid distraction and naysayers from defining your dreams.
  • Seek a mentor to keep that aviation passion and dreams glowing in your mind and heart always.
The 1st livery of the fleet of four built. Capt Kevin’s creative genius at work. Photo by ESBAVIATION VENTURES
  1. Continuous learning: Aviation is a technology industry, which requires very high discipline. It demands you to constantly learn and adapt. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth while continually expanding your knowledge, skills and positive attitudes.
  2. Seize opportunities: Be open to new experiences and be willing to take calculated risks. Opportunities often present themselves in unexpected ways, and it is up to you to recognise and seize them. When you are ready and prepared, chances become opportunities.
  3. Believe in yourself: Believe in your aviation passion and the power of your dreams.   Persevere and pursue them diligently and consistently, even during times of uncertainty. When the time is right, your hard work and dedication will achieve the impossible
  4. Give back: As you progress in your career, remember to share your knowledge and experiences with others. Plant aviation seeds in children, mentor aspiring aviators, and contribute to the growth of the aviation community.
Getting involved with hobbyists is a give back. Photo by Capt Kevin Khoo

These are rewarding ways to move aviation forward. Aeroplanes are not machines we use every day. Be proactive and deliberate in this “give back effort” whenever you acquire “the right position” because aeroplanes within reach of the next generation of budding aviators are truly inspirational for them.

Captain Kevin Khoo’s story and aviation career is a testament to the transformative power of aviation passion and perseverance. His journey from an Apprentice Aircraft Maintenance Engineer to an aircraft pilot instructor, to senior management in a flight training organisation, is a shining example of what is achievable when one follows the heart and embraces the challenges that follow.

What better way than getting the whole family involved from young. Photo by Capt Kevin Khoo

As budding aviators embark on their journeys, they would do well to take inspiration from Captain Kevin’s story and aviation career journey. By nurturing their passion, seizing opportunities, continuously learning, believing in themselves, and giving back to the community, they too can soar to new heights and leave an indelible mark on the world of aviation.

This is Kevin, your captain, from the flight deck. We are now ascending to Flight Level infinity. Buckle up and enjoy the flight!!

Successfull, contented and passionate aviator and his beautiful family. Photo by Capt Kevin Khoo

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