We recently caught up with Brian Tennant, a B1/C Licensed Engineer who kindly shared what he does on an average day, challenges he has faced and his hopes for the future of aviation.
Why did you choose to pursue a career in the Aviation industry?
I’d originally set my sights on becoming a computer programmer/systems analyst, however just before leaving school I had a change of heart and the role of flight engineer really appealed. Soon after while at a school careers fair I discovered that the flight engineer’s role had almost completely disappeared in the then modern times, but a representative from the EITB engineering training scheme did inform me of 2 apprentice positions at Westcountry Aircraft Servicing. 34 years later I am still maintaining aircraft.
What has been a highlight of your career so far?
There have been many but the biggest, and career changing moment, was gaining my aircraft maintenance engineers licence, self-studied in my own time off shift, and very proud of my achievement when it arrived in the post.
Have you faced any challenges throughout your career?
Most days there are challenges to overcome, some small, some bigger, it’s an integral part of the job. My biggest career challenge arrived when covid hit the world and the airline I worked for was the first to collapse. It was very hard to find a new position with the world in lockdown. I feel extremely lucky to have obtained my current role.
Give us an overview of what you do on an average day in your role?
07:00 – Confirmed engine bird strike to customers aircraft. Open #1 engine cowls, remove borescope port plugs, perform borescope inspection, and preparation for compressor wash to clean engine gas path
09:15 – Break time
09:30 – Nil damage was found to compressor section of engine, so refit borescope port plugs
11:30 – Perform 4 cycles of compressor water wash allowing water to soak and engine air starter to cool between each cycle
12:30 – Lunch time
13:00 – remove compressor wash tooling, restore engine ready for engine ground run. Close engine cowls.
13:30 – Tow aircraft to high power engine ground run bay, and perform engine drying run and leak check post comp wash and borescope
14:40 – Tow aircraft to return to apron outside hangar, open engine cowls and allow engine to cool
15:30 – Repeat borescope at front of engine to ensure now clean internally
15:45 – Complete outstanding paperwork before finishing work for the day
What’s the best thing about working in Aviation?
Always learning, experiencing something new, it never ends. Every day the work is different, with new challenges, it keeps it interesting and exciting.
What are your goals and plans for the future?
Due to redundancy right at the beginning of covid (along with 3000 colleagues) I am working with a different organisation from 18 months ago, a new start up, it is exciting to be part of the beginning, drawing upon my experience and helping to lay the foundations and direction for the future growth and success of the company and my colleagues, while also working to the highest standards for our customers
What are your hopes for the future of the Aviation industry?
It will be challenging to obtain and retain skilled experienced staff, particularly in the UK after the perfect storm of Brexit with its new regulatory landscape, and Covid 19. Many have lost their jobs and been forced to move into alternatives (more secure?) industries. BUT there must be a future for aviation, people need to travel for business and family, and people want to travel for leisure. The world is accessible due to air travel. It has been dealt a colossal blow by Covid, but it will recover, it must, it will just take time.
What is one thing you would like to have known before starting your career?
I would have liked to have known how fragile aviation, more so airlines are. It is an incredibly challenging and complex industry, constantly, and sometimes hugely, affected by so many factors. It is these challenges that must constantly be dealt with / overcome that also make it the exciting industry it is.
What kind of skills/characteristics do you feel you need to have in order to do your job – do you think these will change in the future?
Always ready and able to learn. Patience, determination, drive, hand skills, enthusiasm, motivation, knowledge, experience, an eye for the small details, seeing the bigger picture, commercial awareness, a need to deliver safety first always in everything done. Be self-reliant, and better able to work as a team. Need to be adaptable, accepting of new challenges, there are many times when you’ll be taken out of your comfort zone, but these are learning opportunities. These are qualities that have always been needed and won’t change in the future.
Who is your role model?
In my career some of the colleagues I have known are exceptional engineers and leaders, these are the people that help shape who you strive to become.
Can you give 3 tips for someone who wants to join the Aviation industry:
1 – Depending on the role, you need to be prepared to be flexible, both in where you work, and the hours / shifts you work. Aircraft need to be ready to fly and on schedule
2 – The aviation world is very small in terms of a network of people, everybody knows everybody, always be respectful and professional even when you disagree
3 – Get a passport, keep it valid – there is frequently a need to travel, most often with just a few hours notice