What's your job about?
Airbus Australia Pacific are responsible for the deeper level maintenance of the RAAF P-3 Orion and C‑130J Hercules aircraft, as well as the refurbishment of the ex-RAAF C-130H Hercules aircraft for the Indonesian government at RAAF Base Richmond in Western Sydney. As a work experience student, graduate and then permanent member of the C-130J engineering team, my role has been multi-faceted across different departments: the engineering team at Richmond are on an 18-month rotation through the Maintenance Support, Through Life Support and Capability Enhancement teams. During my time I have: designed basic structural repairs to damaged aircraft structure for aircraft undergoing both scheduled maintenance servicings as well as aircraft on active duty due to fly-out; amended publications and designed repairs and inspections to support technicians in independently maintain the aircraft; investigated long-term serviceability or capability issues to enable me to design efficient and long-term modifications or inspection requirements and remediation efforts across the fleet; and worked in teams to support the design and installation of world-leading communication and avionics technology capabilities. My day can start in the office on a CAD program, require me to step out onto the hangar floor or the squadron flightline to investigate issues on the aircraft and finish writing detailed engineering reports and instructions for modification of existing or installation of new aircraft structure. After five years in the engineering team, I am now transitioning into a role that involves collating and analysing data from across our business to ensure we are meeting (and exceeding) contractual performance requirements, as well as planning long term for the serviceability and availability of the C-130J fleet to the operating squadron.
What's your background?
I grew up in Launceston Tasmania, where my dad encouraged me to train for my pilot’s licence at 17 years old – from that first flight, I knew I wanted to be around aircraft for the rest of my life! I thought about being a pilot, or an air traffic controller, but it was the ever-changing nature and challenges of the engineering profession that drew me in. I ended up enrolling in Aerospace Engineering at the University of New South Wales, where I enjoyed balancing my academics with ‘real life’. I studied hard, I was president of the Mechanical Engineering society and I worked closely with the School performing ambassador work and STEM outreach. In order to complete our degree, every budding engineer is required to complete industrial training. At the end of my final year (better late than never!) I applied for a work experience position with Airbus Australia Pacific in Richmond and I was lucky enough to be one of two students selected that year. I worked hard on various, real tasks and building relationships and at the end of summer, I was offered a graduate role. That was nearly five years ago!
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Yes. While my job requires a mechanical, aerospace or aeronautical engineering degree, particularly one that covers stress analysis and our avionics engineers have usually come from electrical, software and avionics engineering degrees, our team comes from a range of backgrounds. We have staff that started their careers on the hangar floor as maintenance technicians, we have engineers with PhD’s and we have people with varied experience from different companies, industries and trades. Everyone brings a different perspective which helps us to create innovative solutions for our customers.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
I really love the practical side to my job. Sometimes when you get a really big problem that seems insurmountable, you can walk downstairs onto an aircraft and take the time to understand that particular piece of structure, kit or system and look around to see how it interacts with the aircraft around it. There’s only so much information stress notes and a drawing will give you! I also enjoy working with pilots, loadmasters and maintainers to understand how I can help them do their job more efficiently and safely.
What are the limitations of your job?
A technical engineering role at Airbus is exactly that. While there are opportunities to work with internal and external customers and the aircraft itself, it is ultimately about performing calculations to ensure the on-going integrity and safety of the aircraft and producing reports to record your findings. Lucky for me, our program provides opportunities to move into more business and customer facing roles that will retain analysis aspects but allow me to grow as a professional!
3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...