What's your job about?
In addition to providing other civil and military aeronautical services, Airbus Australia Pacific maintains the Royal Australian Air Force’s C-130J-30 ‘Hercules’ transport category aircraft, responsible for providing Maintenance, Through Life Support and Aircraft Structural Integrity Management services for the fleet.
I am currently part of the Aircraft Structural Integrity cell, responsible for ensuring deterioration of the airframe is sufficiently managed to constrain the risk of failure to within the certification standard boundaries, whilst minimising the cost of operation and maintaining the operational effectiveness of the aircraft type until its planned withdrawal date.
Specifically, my tasks pertain to the routine assessment of fleet usage and condition data, and the improvement of the aircraft maintenance program and usage policies, to ensure that the airframe remains airworthy throughout its planned service life.
To this extent, routine tasks include conducting Condition Data Audits (assessing condition data quality and identifying specific problem areas - cracking, corrosion, production issues, etc.), assessment of Aircraft Usage and Maintenance Interval Extensions (ensure inspection intervals are maintained or assess the risk of deferral to support operational requirements), and act as a primary point of contact for stakeholder (Engineering, Maintenance, Planning, Operator, etc.) with regards to the impact of their actions on platform structural integrity.
Additional activities primarily associated with the aging nature of the platform and expanding role capabilities required by the operator include the assessment of applicability of modern airworthiness regulations to the platform’s legacy requirements, and assist in the continual optimisation and improvement of the various systems utilised for monitoring, assessing and managing usage and structural integrity.
What's your background?
I grew up in South Sydney, attended a local public school and catholic high school, following which I completed an additional 1 year accelerated HSC course for various subjects to boost my UAI in 2007.
From 2002-2006 I was part of the Australian Air Force Cadets, providing me with an insight into and appreciation for defence aviation.
At the end of 2007 I spent 3 months travelling Peru, living with the locals. This presented me with a deep appreciation for cultural differences and addressing challenges.
From 2008-2012 I completed a BE (Aerospace) at UNSW, during which time I volunteered for 3 months with the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) in Albion Park. Here I gained hands on aeromechanical experience, and began to appreciate the physical outcomes of my studies: I personally believe that it was this time at HARS which significantly boosted my professional prospects.
I completed formal work experience with Australian Aerospace (now Airbus AP) mid 2013, supporting the RAAF P3 aircraft and was subsequently offered a Graduate position. In April 2014 I transferred to the C-130J-30 program and have been rotated through three functional groups - Through Life Support, Deeper Maintenance Support and Aircraft Structural Integrity.
My adaptability, ability to self-manage and prioritise tasking, initiative for encouragement of new and more efficient ways, and a desire to contribute to the continued development and education of myself and others has provided me the opportunity to work and grow as an effective Engineer as part of an effective team over the past 5 years.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Yes, as long as the following requirements are met due to contractual arrangements: Be a Tertiary Qualified Engineer (in Aeronautics or equivalent) pertaining to the level of Grad IEAust, and be eligible for an Australian Government Security Clearance.
In addition to a sound tertiary level of technical competence in core engineering principles, key skills and characteristics one should have and be able to show include adaptability, an ability to self-manage and prioritise tasking, have initiative to encourage new or more efficient ways, and have a desire to contribute to the continued development and education of one’s self and others.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
One of the highlights of the job is that we have direct access to the product for which we provide services: the aircraft are located within the building we operate from! Additionally, there is direct interaction and routine feedback from all stakeholders that we provide support to, including the maintainers, operators, suppliers and other engineering services, which provides invaluable insight into the effects of our outputs, and assists in developing effective, holistic solutions.
It is the positive feedback from these stakeholders, highlighting how our contribution supports and improves their working environment and capabilities, which assists in providing a high level of job satisfaction.
What are the limitations of your job?
With respect to the workplace, the base salary accounts for any reasonable hours that might be required by employees to support tasking requirements, i.e., there is no ‘paid overtime’. Additionally, depending on living arrangements, the workplace location (Richmond NSW) may result in significant commuting times (and can incur considerable expenses).
With respect to the profession, as the work supports operational aircraft, there are periods where high profile and obscure deliverables are accompanied by short timeframes and limited resources. One must be confident and capable of performing and effectively utilising available resources under extreme pressures, including coordinating with various stakeholders of varying technical backgrounds. These instances can be extremely challenging and straining as often solutions are not always evident.
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