Aviation engineering skill sets on show

This article has photo gallery Published on Ms Dallas McMaugh (author), ABIS Jesse Rhynard (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Albatross

The 2014 Fleet Air Arm Engineering Challenge at 723 Squadron, HMAS Albatross. (photo: ABIS Jesse Rhynard)
The 2014 Fleet Air Arm Engineering Challenge at 723 Squadron, HMAS Albatross.

The annual Navy Engineering Challenge aims to promote teamwork, skill-of-hand and job planning skills amongst technical Sailors and is divided into three skill sets: Mechanical, Electronics, and Aviation.

The aviation component is contested by teams of technicians from the squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm, who are set tasks involving repairs on simulated aircraft structures and associated systems. Scoring is based on the adherence to repair techniques and supplied instructions and the documentation of all repair work. Effective utilisation of manpower and Workplace Health and Safety considerations are also assessed.

Launching the aviation challenge, Commander Fleet Air Arm, Commodore Vince Di Pietro said he was confident the teams would rise to the occasion in the tasks set for them.

“This competition highlights what I think the Fleet Air Arm does very well,” Commodore Di Pietro said.

“Our technicians have fantastic skill sets, great application, the initiative to fix a problem, and most importantly, the ability to think on their feet and produce something that does the job well and meets all the standards and regulations.”

Maintenance Manager, Petty Officer Craig Gurney, whose team from 816 Squadron was pitted against 808 Squadron in the first round, said he was confident his team went well.

“The hardest part was not knowing what to expect from the challenge and exactly what the set task would involve,” Petty Officer Gurney said.

“Having two trades, ‘Aviation Technical Aircraft’ and ‘Aviation Technical Avionics’  working so closely together was another pressure, especially with the time constraints that we were given. Three hours sounds like a lot, but that time went really fast.”

“I was also very conscious of the need to ensure everything was running smoothly and to finish the set task, but I think we had a big advantage, which was that we all work together, we all work well together and we all understand each other, which leads to better communication.” 

The 2014 Champion Technicians will be decided following the completion of the Regional/Unit competitions and each of the winners will receive a ‘Champion Technician’ medallion, a deluxe toolkit and will be entitled to wear a special cuff-rate.

Commodore Di Pietro had a little bit of advice for the competitors.

“It’s a lot of fun, an opportunity to show exactly what Aviation technicians can do, and a chance for personal and professional satisfaction - so enjoy the heck out of it,” he said.