Case Study – Aircraft Engineering Apprentice

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‘My name is Jack Hawkins, I’m an aircraft engineering apprentice with Ryanair, based at Stansted’.

Can you give us a brief outline of what first sparked your interest in aviation?

‘Aviation has been a fascination to say the least from a very young age; my grandmother was an incredibly important figure in my life growing up and she lived just under the approach path to Duxford. I used to spend hours watching aircraft land and decided from young that aviation was the industry I wanted to work within. I became an air cadet aged 13 which really reinforced my motives and began volunteering at Bruntingthorpe working on ex RAF Blackburn Buccaneers – this was largely where my interest within aircraft maintenance was born, along with undertaking 2 weeks of work experience with the Royal Air Force at the age of 15’.

Which education path you chose and why – how has this helped in your apprenticeship?

‘Post secondary school, I was somewhat undecided as to whether university was the route I wished to take or whether I wanted to go straight into employment; because of this, I went to sixth form and studied A-levels. After this, I undertook a traineeship within Engineering which was cast over the summer which greatly prepared me for a career within aircraft engineering and certainly gave me the confidence and knowledge to begin applying to apprenticeships. Ultimately, I decided I learnt far better practically within a working environment, plus I didn’t fancy the debt that university would leave me with – so the apprenticeship route was best suited to me’.

What made you apply for your apprenticeship and how you found out about it?

‘I found out about the apprenticeship scheme online – as I live somewhat locally to Stansted it was the perfect opportunity practically speaking. As a company we have a very large fleet which is constantly expanding and is one of the newest in the industry. Here at Stansted we have a great training facility and have a very busy operation; I really like to stay busy and I learn best in a busy environment so the apprenticeship scheme here at Ryanair was an ideal fit for me’.

What do you do on a daily basis/describe your duties and responsibilities– you could perhaps use a step-by-step account I.E. in your first year, second year etc?

‘Our first year is spent primarily at college gaining our Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications along with our Cat A engineering license modules to best prepare us for working on the line and in the hangar. We also have practical days each week which consist of learning fundamental skills such as wire locking, sheet metal work and improving our handskills skillsets. We’ll be spending November this year in Prestwick which is our base maintenance facility familiarising ourselves with heavy maintenance which is very exciting. Years 2 and 3 are spent entirely on the job which occasional release to college, undertaking jobs to fill in our engineering logbooks in order to apply for our EASA Cat A license which will allow us to sign jobs off to release an aircraft back into service after line-maintenance work such as wheel changes, brake changes and daily checks amongst other things’.

Outline any key achievements/awards/training or events you have attended or completed

‘To date the most fulfilling event I’ve attended was WorldSkillsLive,I spent a few days promoting the industry and representing my company. It was incredibly rewarding to engage with the future generation of engineers and to try and inspire as many as I could. So far, I’ve completed a number of my license modules which can be rather difficult to study for and have made good headway into completing my necessary qualifications. I’m excited to head out to Prestwick in November and to start my time on the line working on the aircraft in the summer. We’ve undertaken a number of training weeks away from college at our hangar now which have been very interesting and diverse; learning how to carry out wheel changes, filter changes, oxygen bottle changes amongst other similar tasks. We’ve even spent a few hours each in one of the many Boeing 737-800 simulators we have here at the hangar, learning the systems and trying our hands at flying the aircraft we will be working on’.

What do you want to get out of the apprenticeship and what you final career goal is?

‘I want to achieve as much as I can and soak up as much knowledge as possible to make me the most competent engineer I can be; as we’re expanding as a company, which will eventually involve working on a number of types of aircraft, I’d like to experience as many different types as possible. The apprenticeship can be hard work, so if you’re willing to put the time in the rewards can be vast. I’d like to eventually gain my B license and type ratings which will give me more responsibility and will create even more diversity within my work; I’d also like to teach and instruct in my later years’.

Any tips for anyone looking to apply for an apprenticeship in this sector?

‘Speak to as many people as you can about their experiences and soak up any advice they have to give. The industry can be difficult to get into initially, but never give up; perseverance is key, you may face rejection but don’t be disheartened, it’ll better prepare you for your next interview. Get involved with the industry as much as you can in your spare time and always remember, first impressions are key, you never know who you might be talking to so if you remain passionate and positive an opportunity may just be sitting on the horizon. Finally, never give up, aviation is an amazing industry which promotes plenty of opportunity; work hard and you’ll be a part of something incredible’.