Q: How did you hear about Okanagan College’s Aircraft Maintenance Engineer – Structures (AME-S) program?
A: I heard about the program through working at KF Aerospace. I was working at KF Aerospace as an Aircraft Services Technician (AST), doing interior work on aircraft. I was interested in furthering my career in aviation and was intrigued by the prospect of sheet metal repair work. I decided to sign up for the program and completed it in June 2019.
Q: Do you have a favourite learning experience or project while taking the AME-S program?
A: There were a lot of interesting projects in the AME-S program. One of my favourite shop projects was the wing box. For the wing box, I had to fabricate a metal box which simulated an aircraft wing. After it was complete, my instructor graded my work and then created holes and other damage to the box. Then I had to repair that damage as a secondary assignment. I knew nothing at the beginning of the course and it was a great way to bring all the skills I had learned into a physical being.
Q: As a student who graduated with honours and was acknowledged on the Dean’s List, what advice do you have for AME-S students?
A: The best advice I can give is if you choose to take the program, you should be genuinely interested in the subject matter. If you're genuinely interested in the topic, you will be more inclined to have good attendance, complete all the projects to the best of your abilities, and listen to all the theory. Never be afraid to ask questions both in school or during your career. Some of the best technicians I have met still learn from others.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself. Why did you want to pursue a career as an AME-S Technician?
A: Previously, I had taken the Automotive Service Technician Foundation program through OC and wanted to be an automotive technician. After working in the industry for a while, I used the skills I had gained to get a job at KF Aerospace as an Aircraft Services Technician, working on interiors and doing aircraft washes. Eventually, I decided I wanted to take more training to advance in the aerospace industry.
Q: What are some of the most beneficial things you learned in the AME-S program that have helped you in your career today?
A: I use most of the skills I learned at OC. You will learn that there are usually many ways to do something, and you will usually end up choosing what you think works best for you. There is no possible way for you to learn everything in school that a very experienced technician knows. I think the most beneficial skills I learned were the basics. Drilling accurately, riveting and drilling out rivets. These are skills I use every day at work.
Q: Walk us through an average day at the shop.
A: Shifts can vary. In general, I would recommend that you be open to working varying shifts and being flexible. During the beginning of my career at KF Aerospace, I worked mostly on 737 planes. They would come in for what was called a 'C-Check' and would be in the hangar for one to five weeks. This resulted in a lot of time spent opening and closing panels to complete the checks and access the areas that needed work. It was nice to see so many planes come and go and get to know the problem areas that they have.
Every day can be different so it's hard to say what an average day is like. I usually come into work having no idea what I will be working on that day. Other times I might be working on completing the same job for three weeks straight. I like not doing the same thing every day and almost always having something new to do. What you work on depends almost entirely on where you get hired.
Until recently, I worked in Port Alberni, B.C. I spent seven months fitting parts for the Boeing 737 tanker conversion. I also had the opportunity to travel on a private jet with the company to Chile to repair a helicopter that had become damaged. I had four hours of notice before I left for that trip. I also spent seven weeks in the spring in San Bernardino, Calif., doing spring maintenance on the entire fleet. You never know where you can go!
Q: How important is teamwork in your workplace? Do you tend to work alone or in a team?
A: Sometimes I work alone but it is a team effort to get a project done. If you're not working directly with someone, you might be handing it off to them at the end of the day for them to work the night shift on it. Sometimes, when you have to rivet something and can't access both sides of it at once, you have someone help you rivet.
Another example could be when you drill off a rivet head, you might have to instruct someone to go inside the aircraft, find where you are and the exact rivet you are working on and hold a bucking bar against it to back it up. This career requires very good communication/teamwork skills because there might be a few dozen rivet tails that look exactly the same to the person inside, and you have to be able to tell them the exact one that needs attention or you could risk damaging the structure trying to fix it. Same thing with riveting, if there is a communication breakdown the aircraft could easily become damaged. I would say teamwork is extremely important, but you won't always be working in a team.
Q: Would you recommend Okanagan College’s AME-S program to others?
A: I would recommend the AME-S program because of where I am now. I had the opportunity to move and work in a town I love and have a career doing something I'm good at and really enjoy.
Aircraft Maintenance Engineer - Structures
Learn the necessary skills to seek employment in the aircraft maintenance trade, specific to the structure of aircraft. Geared towards those with little or no previous experience in the field, this program equips participants to apprentice as Aircraft Maintenance Engineers.
Local, national, and global employment opportunities are soaring for certified Aircraft Maintenance professionals. Okanagan College offers two different aircraft maintenance programs to help graduates prepare for immediate entry into the field of aviation.