Saturday 19 November 2011

Work Experience

Day 1

It all began by walking into the security office. As expected, my picture was taken and I was presented with an I.D. card. I waited to be escorted to the Human Resources department where I was given a mini Health & Safety induction. I then walked to the Laundry Room, and was given a uniform and steel-capped boots. No chance of accidents happening here!

Without delay, we headed for the maintenance hangars, only to be advised that the aircraft didn't arrive on time and would be coming at 20:00 on Tuesday night. Nonetheless, to avoid disappointment, my manager accompanied me into the cockpit of a Boeing 737, belonging to Nok Air and I had a good snoop around before moving on. (I later realised that this was an ex Ryanair 737 just after being repainted in the Nok livery.)

Next to be seen was an Airbus A320 from the airline BMI. I walked around the exterior and learned the locations of some of the most commonly used control surfaces. I progressed to the flight deck and felt in my element in such a spacious cockpit. I made my way to another Airbus A320 in the paint shop which was destined for Aerolineas. The fuselage gleamed in its rust primer and glossy white paint, the sight of new aircraft.

Next, I was accompanied to the schedule for the Boeing 767 which was due in. I was notified that it was from an airline called Arkefly, a Dutch charter company part of TUI. I learned the structure of the A320 engine from the airline AviaNova and also was taught the instruments in the flight deck. I took the captain's seat, fiddled with the joystick and imagined that I would be sitting in one of these two seats for the rest of my life. Needless to say, it was an overwhelming feeling.

Day 2

Suck          Squeeze          Bang          Blow

I will never, ever forget these four simple words, which explain the structure of such a complicated engine.

I ascended the stairs, and was surprised to see a Boeing 767 staring back at me, creating an ominous feeling. I gasped at the great magnitude of the aircraft and tripped over my feet trying to speed up. I was taken up to the cockpit where all of the Liquid Crystals Displays were smiling back at me. This was only the third time that I had been in a live aircraft, it was a totally different experience.

I was introduced to the Electronics & Avionics team with whom I would be working with for the rest of the week.

The first task I was presented with was a Timex replacement of a strobe light on the wing. I stared in disbelief when I was handed the screwdriver. I decided that it was now or never, I had to learn sometime and take responsibility. I took all but two warped screws out, and needless to say my manager was quite impressed.

The next task to be fulfilled was to replace the Auxiliary Power Unit battery. This job required absconding into the belly of the aircraft to pull a circuit breaker on the P33 panel. As I escalated into the belly I was surprised at the great expanse of black boxes which automate so many functions. Afraid to touch anything, I knelt on the bright orange floor, similar to the colour of a carrot. The floor above my head creaked as people trodded over the escape hatch. I was startled to see my manager peer around from the cargo hold, and followed him to behind the black boxes to see the wiring leading into them.

I was notified that another task had to be carried out before the APU battery could be replaced. We traveled to the cockpit, and switched the power off. In due time, we returned to the cockpit, where I was permitted to switch the power back on. I carried out what most pilots call the "L shape". I felt over the moon, as if I had just taken the first step to what I would be learning in training. I thought things couldn't get better, until I was shifted to the first officers seat and instructed to extend the flaps to 25 degrees. Again, I thought "it's now or never", and extended the flaps. I heard the hydraulic fluid flow seamlessly until the flaps reached the desired position. I felt exhilaration flowing through the arteries and veins in my body, just as the hydraulic fluid is essentially the life and blood of an aircraft.

I was surprised to find myself climbing the scaffolding which surrounded the tail. I landed on top of the tail, and stared down at the big bird. It was a breathtaking view, watching people working from a height on such a big aircraft.

On top of the tail

After lunch, we began the job of testing the extinguishers in the APU section of the tail. I poked my head up
and turned the hex key in an anti-clockwise motion three times, until a positive reading was obtained in the cockpit each time. Comparing to the other jobs, this one was relatively easy apart from the mark it left on my index and middle finger for the rest of the day!

Day 3

On day 3, there was limited power available, so instead I seized the opportunity to do some work on the engines. I scrambled up to the EEC box, and I was instructed to test the wires for the amount of resistance. I shifted between this job and seeing engine number 2 being dropped. Witnessing the engine being dropped was a totally different experience, the wing is manufactured in such an amazing way.

For the rest of the day, I wisely spent my time in the cockpit. I learned all of the instruments and dials, and it proves that the cockpit is not as complicated as I thought. I listened the the arrivals and tower frequency at Shannon airport, and I heard a lot of interesting conversations. I felt in my element sitting in the captains seat, and words cannot describe the feelings of perplexity that this seat produces.

Me in the cockpit

EICAS systems on the 767


  1. What a fantastic opportunity! Just think, one day you'll get paid to do what you love and spend hours in the cockpit. Always remember the feelings and thoughts you have now, and you'll keep the enjoyment alive.

  2. I am really looking forward to it, it's the goal that constantly overshadows me and I hope to make it true as soon as I can. Thanks so much Karlene, you are such a great inspiration and help me out when things get tough!

  3. You are so lucky! Hope you enjoyed!

  4. Thank you Speedbird103, I really did enjoy it. It was a once in a lifetime experience and was the most hands-on work experience I have ever taken part in!