Confidence boost from aircraft maintenance comp

Confidence boost from aircraft maintenance comp
Teone Wilkinson from No 6 Squadron RNZAF drilling the holes before riveting together pieces of his aircraft structure repair module at the WorldSkills New Zealand national selection competition, RNZAF Woodbourne 2023

25 October 2023

Samuel Munday always liked aircraft, but it wasn’t until he was 16 that he thought to turn that interest toward aircraft maintenance and engineering.  At 17, the South-East Aucklander applied to join the Airforce. He went through the recruitment process and started basic training in September 2019. From there he began learning about aircraft maintenance.  Now the 22-year-old is an aircraft technician in No 6 Squadron at Whenuapai air base.

This year, Samuel, and fellow No 6 Squadron aircraft technician, Teone Wilkinson (24), will be compete at the WorldSkills New Zealand Aircraft Maintenance Competition in Wigram.

Teone became interested in aircraft from a young age, serving in the military was his dream. He applied for the Air Force in his last year of high school at Kaipara College. At 20, he joined the RNZAF.  Now, Teone is looking forward to representing his unit on a national level.

“Competing at the national WorldSkills competition is something pretty unique and something I take a lot of pride in,” he says.  “It’s a great challenge, a good chance to represent the New Zealand Defence Force and a great networking opportunity. I would absolutely recommend it.”

Samuel says he decided to enter this year’s WorldSkills Aircraft Maintenance Competition to “try something new” and to put the maintenance practices he’d learnt through the Airforce to the test — along with the added time pressure from the competition.

“At the national selection competition, I was surprised at how I was able to work under the added time pressure that I wasn’t used to having, to that extent, in my day-to-day work. The experience of competing has given me more confidence to do my job more effectively and efficiently,” says Samuel.

The standout activity of the competition for Samuel has been working on the structural task: fabricating and installing a simulated aircraft repair in three hours.  The module involved interpreting the drawing and instructions, cutting out and folding the rib and doubler and riveting them to the aircraft aluminium sheet skin.

“The structures piece, even though I found this by far the hardest, I still managed to have plenty of banter with the other lads while getting the job done.”