Welcome to Stories from the Runway. The Beacon series in which we sit down with aviation professionals and talk through the ins and outs of the industry.
Today, we interview American Airlines Maintenance Technician, Mario. Mario entered the world of aviation by means of Aviation Career & Technical Education High School, a well-known, specialized school located in Queens, New York.
When we talked with Mario, he shared how his interest in aviation started long before he began at Aviation High.
"Ever since I was a child I was fascinated by how machinery worked. I always glanced at aircraft in the sky and wondered what made them fly with such ease. It was the same with trains, too. I think what intrigued me was how the technology and machinery worked together. It was when I attended Aviation High School when I began to understand " the magic" behind it all."
Mario graduated Aviation High with his Airframe and Powerplant Certificate but didn't pursue a career in aviation right away. Instead, he worked as an electrical technician for a few years, until one day he realized he was ready for a new challenge. Shortly after, Mario joined American Airlines as a Maintenance Technician. He tells us when he first started, he was overwhelmed by the level of accountability, but over time, that same responsibility became the very thing he's grown to love.
Once the nervousness fades and you start to feel very empowered.
While talking to Mario, it quickly becomes clear that the work of a Maintenance Technician is anything but dull. Every day there is a new problem to solve and a new challenge to tackle. In addition to the workload itself, Mario tells us communication is another important aspect of the job.
There's no room for ego in aviation.
"There isn't always one team leader in the crews, usually we rotate with who is taking the lead that day. This helps us avoid complacency and fatigue and makes it so that we all maintain equal respect. Of course, there are still times when we butt heads, but there is a big sense of brotherhood in aviation, so no matter what, at the end of the day we are all there for each other."
While some fixes are expected, the workload itself changes on a day-to-day basis.
"A typical night starts with me arriving to work and getting dressed, making sure I have all my safety attire needed to make my job easy. I then check in with my crew chief who assigns us the workload and the specific aircraft for the night. Working alongside my team, we address issues from open write-ups from previous flights to detailed inspections and walkthroughs to ensure the aircraft is within the safety limits for its next departure. The fun begins when we are tasked with a job such as component removal and replacement, servicing of various systems, or tire or brake changes. Afterward, we fill out paperwork to stamp off the work we performed and verify that it is all up to safety standards and done in accordance with up-to-date manuals and work cards."
So, why aviation? When we asked Mario about what drew him to this field he shared one of his first memories feeling a big sense of accomplishment. It's the feeling of a job well done at the end of the day that keeps him coming back again and again.
"One of my biggest accomplishments was when I performed my first engine change a few weeks being the new guy. It was a nerve-racking feeling, but I knew I was ready. A few shifts later me and my amazing team had the new engine installed and ready for its test flight before the passengers could fly on the aircraft. My proudest moment was when it passed the test flights and the following day was ready for passengers to get to their destination. Watching it push back from the gate and taxi down the runway was a euphoric feeling that one can not describe."
Thank you for your interest in Beacon's White Paper series on Aviation Maintenance Sustainability