My name is Mohammed Shahidul Islam Ali, and I am an Aircraft Mechanic employed by the UK’s flag carrier, British Airways. My role is based at the heavy base maintenance facility at Cardiff Airport.
What made you choose to pursue a career in the Aviation industry?
Aviation has been a long-life dream of mine starting from the early days when we as a family used to travel to Bangladesh. Our holidays would be after every several years which made the occasion filled with even more excitement as I would first and foremost look forward to the journey through the airports and onto the airplanes.
My first flight was on the historic trijet; the McDonnell Douglas DC10 of Biman Bangladesh Airlines. The noise of the engines spooling up, the take-offs and landings gave me a thrill and entertained a healthy adrenaline rush. From that very moment onwards, my eyes turned skywards and for the years to come I was intrigued, and mind blown by how these enormous and complex machines take flight.
What path have you taken to embark on an Aviation career?
With clear and concise ambitions from an early age, I knew the subjects to study and the grades to accomplish through GCSEs in secondary school and A-Levels in college. Before embarking on the University journey, I was fortunate enough to gain experience through ground handling positions at my local Airport.
I then went on to study at the University of Liverpool, a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Avionic Systems with Pilot Studies. I thoroughly enjoyed the degree as it was a mixture of different technical aspects starting from electrical & electronics, flight dynamics, and software. I was even able to start a journey on the Private Pilot’s License by taking regular flight lessons.
After leaving University, I made numerous applications to different airlines, airports, and aerospace companies however the unforeseen pandemic struck and simply closed the Aviation industry worldwide. Luckily, after a couple of jobs in the IT sector and the settling post pandemic, my heart yearned to make a breakthrough back into the Aviation industry. With perseverance and dedication, I made strong Engineering applications to Airlines.
I was over the moon to receive a successful interview email from BA and that moment defined my direction. With a strong academic background and aviation work experience, I was finally joining the UK’s national Airline to begin my Aircraft Engineering career!
Give us an overview of what you do on an average day in your role?
I currently work 12-hour shifts. When I arrive at work in the morning, I join the team briefing lead by the Licensed Engineers. The team gets briefed on job allocations, training, and information from management. Tools, materials, and work area inspections are done. In base maintenance, Aircraft are in for different lengths of time depending on the level of check.
Typical shifts include working on the modification line where I get assigned tasks such as re-routing/installing/modifying wires for different cabin electrical circuits, terminating electrical connectors, installing power & data modules, IFE and avionics systems testing.
On shifts where I am on the maintenance check line, I engage in tasks which include changing and testing various flight deck systems as well as software loading and simulations. The day tends to go fast with the level of work we undertake and the detail of focus, enthusiasm, and knowledge each member of the team gives in.
What do you most love about your job?
The most satisfying parts of my job are the different challenges that comes every day and the feeling of achievement after overcoming complex tasks. I always keep motivated with our passengers in mind and their safety all depending on our work and the safety of the Aircraft. The thrilling aspect is that the Aircraft is very complex, so there is always something for everyone to learn.
Working around Aircraft, always reminds me of my first flight on the DC-10 and I remind myself ‘why am I here?’.
Goals for the future
My future goal is to become a Licensed Aircraft Engineer and the steps I am taking are very clear in terms of what I want to achieve. I am currently studying my modules down the B2 route (Avionics) whilst simultaneously logging practical experience in the logbook.
Upon passing the twelve modules and gaining the required practical experience, I will then be in a position to apply for the Aircraft Maintenance Engineer’s License. Further to that, I plan to get a type rating qualification which is a specialised training programme for a specific Aircraft type. In my case this will be either the B777 or B787.
3 tips for aspiring Aviation professionals
1. Strong technical skills - stay motivated in your academic studies. Get the best results and chose wisely between a degree or apprenticeship. Alongside this, develop hand skills to be able to build, design, install and remove Aircraft related parts/systems with high precision and diligence. This goes along with being able to interpret the thousands of technical drawings and maintenance manuals. In this tech-driven era, computer skills are highly necessary where the industry has specialised software to help engineers store/retrieve data and information. Remember safety is paramount and one thing no matter what, will never be compromised.
2. Interpersonal skills – this will usually be developed from social, academic, and work. Effective and strong communication skills help the team to work towards completing an airworthy Aircraft for release and collaborate together where issues arise as well as team working to support each other and overcome challenging situations. Remember that a friendly and professional approach are the keys to a successful team.
3. Flexibility - one thing to always bear in mind when entering the industry is being flexible. This means with times, days, and locations. A 24/7 availability is a strong attribute to carry as it shows the employer you are available if and when needs arise. Being open to locations both in UK and worldwide will for sure open many opportunities. Never give up on your dreams!