Aircraft Maintenance Engineer – Try it for 5


Libby Lacolta: You have to move that in. Lights, camera, action.

My name is Libby Lacolta and I work for BAE Systems. And we do the deep level maintenance on the Hawk Mk 127. When I was a kid, I used to build quite a few model airplanes. My friends, for my thirteenth birthday, they bought me a joy flight in a Cessna 152 and I’d never been in an aircraft before. I’m not one for sitting in front of a computer or even just sitting at a desk. I’m more like hands-on, practical – pull things apart, put things together, build them, construct them.

This is aircraft wing, the main plane, that’s been removed for inspections and we’re just preparing here now to fit it back onto the aircraft. So you grab your toolbox to start with and you tag it. They can give you heaps if you lose it so at the end of the day, if there’s a tool missing, everyone knows who to pick on. People find out which aircraft it’s on, who’s been using it, so they can ground aircraft for certain reasons just for a safety issue, because you want to make sure it’s 100% safe before you fly.

All right. Here we are. Everyone’s in their positions ready to wheel the wing, make sure everything’s off, out the way. This thing should be slightly easier to line up than normal because we don’t have the flaps attached. You can be there for almost the whole day, moving the wing up and down, up and down, because something isn’t lining up properly or the aircraft wing when you put it up you’ve got to try and put it up even because if it’s just cocked off a little bit, that’s when something can catch and it’s really close tolerance.

Robbo: Everyone’s set up?

Libby Lacolta: Yep.

Robbo: All clear?

Libby Lacolta:Yep.

Robbo: Up two?

Libby Lacolta: Yep.

Robbo: All clear, up three?

Libby Lacolta: Yep.

Robbo: All clear. Altogether, down one. All right.

Libby Lacolta: People all doing their own thing, that’s when you start getting problems. Everyone had to listen to Robbo who was saying, ‘up, down’. Everyone’s got to do it together and make sure you work as a team. You’ve got to be able to test and troubleshoot things, have that troubleshooting knowledge to be able to go through systems, know how systems link into other systems. Something might be going wrong but it might be because of a completely different system that then feeds into that system.

We’ve got the wing up and we’ve got the bolts in, the six attachment bolts so I’m just looking up now in the installation we have all these manuals you need to follow. We just have to connect all the pipes together, put on electrical connectors, yeah, basically, that’s it.

Get my torque wrench. Absolutely everything always is lock-wired. That’s this wire that I’m doing now. I’ll do an example of some of these. See all these connections here with wire on them? That’s just locks, like a safety device, an actual safety device. We’ve always got a backup for a backup. So once you’ve done this, you then have another two people come and check your work. It’s better to own up if you’ve done something wrong, saves a lot of people a lot of hassle.

Everything is logged, every job by computer software such as Aviation InterTec. Every problem that’s found, you write it down. Then people fix the job and then they have to sign it off and then you’ve got different people to sign off the tasks and depending on, I suppose how critical the job is, you have two or three signatures. So if it’s some really important thing that could have vital impact on the flight, that’s when you have more signatures.

All right.

Speaker 3: Just take a bag up now and put something on your face.

Libby Lacolta: At school, you do get spoon fed a lot of things so you don’t actually get that chance to use your initiative. So when I first came here, I didn’t actually have that much initiative myself but the guys, they let you know and they let you know how to use your initiative. Safety wise – if you see someone doing something unsafe, you let them know because then, yeah, you just help each other out that way, a bit of a buddy system.

A lot of my friends, they all say, they’re coming to the end of their degrees as well and they’re like, “Aw, I might just do another degree or I might just do another unit or something like that because it’s too scary to go and work.” But really, work is actually a great life. Well, I’ve enjoyed it anyway because you’ve got city hours and you don’t have to go home and study. You can go home and just put your feet up. When I started, I thought, “Four years, aw, that’s going to take forever.” but it has gone so fast. I feel like I’ve only just started my apprenticeship yesterday. But then I’ve learnt so much while I’ve been here.

You get a lot of job satisfaction, I think. Like, if there’s a problem and you troubleshoot it and then you can see once you’ve changed things, changed components and tested and actually seen the result at the end, seen the aircraft fly and like, yeah, you’ve fixed that and it’s flying now. Yeah, that’s really awesome as well.

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