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A group of students got some valuable experience of working in engineering when they visited British Airways’ Cardiff maintenance facility at Cardiff Airport and Aviation Wales were invited along to see how they got on.
The visit by students from Cardiff Sixth Form College gave them the chance to explore the opportunities available as well as meet members of the engineering team.
The students were given a tour of the facility by Team leader Huw Mundy and Mechanic Kate Griffiths who took them in and around two of the companies Boeing 747-400’s that are currently undergoing maintenance.
The tour gave the students the opportunity to see “under the skin” of a jumbo jet from the nose-wheel right up to the top of its tail, 64ft above the hangar floor, in a unique experience designed to showcase what it means to an aircraft engineer.
Arranged as part of Work Experience Month 2017, the visit was designed to help young students with an in interest in engineering or aviation to find out more about the career and the opportunities available.
Huw told the students about how he worked his way through the company to become a team leader. Kate joined as an apprentice straight after A-Levels and not only completed her apprenticeship with BAMC, won recognition for her achievements in the form of multiple awards including the Rising Star in Chwarae Teg‘s 2016 Womenspire awards and an apprenticeship award from Cardiff and Vale College.
Asked about whether the experience was inspiring for students Kate said: “I’d like to think its inspiring and they get a lot out of it, we need days like this just to encourage people to get into engineering” adding “it gives them an overall insight into what goes on”.
The two 747’s (G-BNLY & G-BYGD) were in varying states of maintenance giving the students the opportunity to see through the phases of work being carried out by the different teams such as Airframes and Engines. They were even treated to a tour of the flight deck of G-BYGD with an explanation of the avionics system.
The afternoon saw the students getting hands-on with some of the engineering skills used daily in the hangar, in particular, hand-skills such as riveting.
17-year-old Care Phongsermsuk, a student from Cardiff Sixth Form College said: “It was really hands-on and we got to see much more than I was expecting. I think engineering could be a great job for anyone.”
The hangar at BAMC has 3 bays, 1 designed for 777’s and 2 for 747’s although work has been carried out to make the bays capable of handling British Airways’ latest aircraft the Boeing 787. Lauren Stacey explained that while the 787-8 could be accommodated, 787-9 aircraft required extra work to be able to park the aircraft further in as it is 20ft longer than its -8 counterpart.
Lauren was part of the team that ensured BAMC was capable of carrying out maintenance for the British Airways 787 fleet. It also now maintains Boeing 787’s for other airlines under Boeing’s Gold Care partner program.
It is through opportunities such as this from British Airways that future engineers can learn about the industry. By meeting and talking to the people who are doing the jobs they can learn more about the roles and what will suit them. Meeting engineers like Lauren and Kate helps to show that engineering and the aviation industry as a whole are actively encouraging women to build careers in all areas whether it’s on the workshop floor or on the flight deck.