What do you do?

I am an EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) Licenced Aircraft Maintenance Engineer employed by the Trust to:

  1. Provide specialist advice and knowledge to the Trust regarding maintenance and continuing airworthiness of the two helicopters currently operated.
  2. Assist with monitoring, auditing and compliance of the Maintenance and Continuing Airworthiness Contractors
  3. Carry out Aircraft line maintenance and defect rectification on behalf of the maintenance contractor as required
  4. Ensure that the Airbases at Exeter Airport and at Eaglescott Airfield are maintained to the standard required by the regulator for the undertaking of maintenance functions and effective operations

What do you do regularly/occasionally?

Whenever possible on the days that I work I carry out the required daily inspection on the Air Ambulance either at Exeter or the Eaglescott Airbase, when I am not around this is carried out by the Duty Pilot. I carry out any routine maintenance and defect rectification as required and whenever possible I try do this outside of normal operating hours to ensure the helicopters remain available for service. This sometimes means working very early in the morning or late in the evening so flexibility with working hours is essential. I also regularly monitor and assess service bulletins issued by the aircraft manufacturers and Airworthiness Directives issued by EASA or the UK CAA for applicability to our aircraft and ensure compliance if required along with a range of other administrative tasks. On a less frequent basis I monitor, order and receive the bulk fuel for the aircraft to use and I look after the Aircrew Helmets, Lifejackets and other equipment in and around the hangars. Occasionally I assist with maintenance on the Police Helicopter that is co-located in our shared hangar at Exeter Airport and DAAT charge their Maintenance Organisation for my time.

How many years have you been an engineer? History of your career. Where did you train/how did you train?

I actually started my career in 1984 when I began a 4 year Vehicle Technicians Apprenticeship with Devon and Cornwall Police. On completion of my training I transferred to the Police Helicopter Unit and continued to train as an Aircraft Engineer. This involved working at various aircraft maintenance organisations to gain experience on different helicopter types and included 6 months at Bristow Helicopters before sitting my Basic Aircraft Maintenance Engineers Licence Exams with the UK Civil Aviation Authority. On completion I then had to attend an Aircraft Manufacturers training course (in Germany) to qualify for the issue of a type rating which allowed me to take responsibility for and certify the completion of maintenance carried out on the specific type of aircraft that were being operated at that time. I have now worked as an aircraft engineer for 28 years (I know, I don’t look old enough!!) and have continued to train to remain up to date with the modern aircraft types that are used by the Emergency Services today. I took up my current position with DAATCL in June 2014.

What qualifications did you have to have?

I must admit I don’t actually remember what qualifications were required at the time although I gained 6 GCE’s (O levels if you can remember them!) and 3 CSE’s at grade 1, however I guess that good grades in Maths, English and Physics were essential. I’m sure it is very different now.

Have you always wanted to do what you do?

No not specifically an aircraft engineer but I had always wanted a career in engineering as my Father was an engineer in the Royal Navy and as a child I was always tinkering with bikes and go-karts and trying to fix things up. I had planned to follow in his footsteps and join the Navy however I applied for the Apprenticeship with Devon and Cornwall Police and was offered the job so chose to take that option.

I believe there is  a shortage of engineers?  Is that correct?  Why do you think that is?

There has been a shortage of engineers in recent years and I think that there are two main reasons for this.  Firstly that some school leavers are put off of the idea of a maintenance engineering career due to a misconceived notion that it is an outdated dirty industry and are tending to favour modern IT or service based careers. Secondly historically there was always a steady supply of skilled engineers coming from the Armed Forces and this has dried up significantly as Defence cuts have reduced the number of personnel in the Forces and so they have taken steps to hold on to the remaining skilled engineers that they have. This has meant that salaries for suitably qualified engineers can be quite high. The UK Aerospace industry has recognised this problem and a lot of work has been going on to attract people into engineering and I feel that we have turned a corner with the large number of more traditional apprenticeships available as documented in the website listed below.

How can those reading get into engineering?

This link takes you to a brilliant website set up by the Royal Aeronautical Society and is full of really useful information regarding careers in Aerospace.

Meet the other members of our aircrew. 

In 2017 it cost £6.4 million to keep Devon's Air Ambulances flying. You can help support our service to Devon communities in several ways, from fundraising and volunteering, to making a secure online donation or remembering us in  your Will.