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  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Alexander Janssen

As a structures engineer at Airbus I am a part of the in-service engineering team for the ARH Tiger an Australian Army Helicopter.

What's your job about?

As a structures engineer at Airbus I am a part of the in-service engineering team for the ARH Tiger an Australian Army Helicopter. I provide support for the mechanical and structural systems of the aircraft which covers a wide range of tasks, developing repairs and modifications to the aircraft, managing aircraft weight and balance, and providing support for flight trials of new equipment or operating in new environments such as on board navy ships.

My job is not just about engineering design, but providing an overall solution for a problem. For example in developing a repair, I work with a number of different departments to ensure supplies and specialist tools are available; instructions are published; the maintenance and inspections can be appropriately tracked; and the components and aircraft will be available for repair.

What's your background?

I am Brisbane born and bred, growing up between Brisbane and the Gold Coast. I was always passionate about Maths and Science, but I had not really considered engineering as a career path until quite late in my schooling. When I was in Grade 12, I attended the Australian Youth Aerospace Forum, a 5 day camp based at the University of Queensland for high school students. We were exposed to the local aerospace industry, from local companies (including my future employer) to research being carried out at local universities and experience of current aerospace undergraduates. This experience opened my eyes to the aerospace industry and engineering more broadly, putting me on a new career path.

I studied Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Physics at the University of Queensland. During my final semester of university I completed 6 months of work experience with Airbus in the ARH engineering department. Following this I was offered a short term contract providing additional engineering resources for the MRH90 helicopter program.  During in this time I applied for a permanent position with ARH team I completed work experience with, and have been working in that department for the last year.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes, while you do need a background in mechanical and structures there is no expectation of being an expert on all systems or components and are constantly learning about the aircraft. It is important however that you have a practical mindset and be able to work with a variety of people across different departments.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

One of the coolest things about my job is knowing that I contribute to keeping the ARH safely flying. This was impressed upon me first hand when I deploying with 1 Aviation Regiment for two weeks to exercise Talisman Sabre to provide local engineering support and see how the army operate in the field. As a part of the exercise I was flown in and out of the area on a MRH90, another military helicopter Airbus supports, which was the coolest experience in my job so far.

What are the limitations of your job?

My job is primarily a desk job with aircraft stationed in Darwin and Oakey while engineering is based out of Brisbane. Working in the aviation field there are a significant amount of processes and procedures to follow, and it takes a while to wrap your head around it. Of course, there are also deadlines to meet, as an entire aircraft can be waiting on your repair before it is able to fly.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  • Put yourself out there from the beginning of university to make new friends and meet new people.
  • Do less part time work during the semester, studying all week then working all weekend, burns yourself out and creates unnecessary stress.
  • Travel and study abroad while you’ve got the time and opportunity, this is one of my major regrets that I didn’t do this more when I had at the time.