Flight and fight at aircraft maintenance comp

Flight and fight at aircraft maintenance comp

12 September 2023

A closer WorldSkills New Zealand National pre-selection competition could not have been imagined by Michael Naus, Skills Manager. The aircraft maintenance selection competition, hosted by RNZAF Woodbourne, precedes the National Competition to be held in Christchurch in November— and in turn, this will identify New Zealand’s representative to the WorldSkills International Competition in Lyon next year.

At Woodbourne, nestled amongst five naval Sea Sprite helicopters, five Mitsubishi MU2 turbo prop aircraft and two Strikemaster military jet trainers plus all the support equipment to maintain them, ten young aircraft engineers and engineers in training, tackled three modules over six hours.

Michael Naus says the first task, a daily inspection, is an important starting point for every flight.

“An inspection is carried out each day, usually before the first flight of the day. This demands a combination of preparing the aircraft for flight by removing covers and blanks and checking for any damage, corrosion, cracks, fluid leaks, missing parts, security of panels, bird nests, basically anything that might affect the safety of flight or operation of the aircraft and its systems.”

Competitors were given 90 minutes to find as many of the defects introduced by the organisers as possible. Then armed with instructions, drawings, stock aluminium and three hours on the clock, competitors fabricated a sheet metal repair giving particular attention to the accuracy of marking out and calculations, bending, dimensions and riveting. A final set of 90 minutes was dedicated to removing, inspecting and replacing a fuel filter on a helicopter turbine engine.

Flight and fight at aircraft maintenance comp2

Michael Naus says due to the closeness of the pre-selection results, the judges and administrative team have made a call to take all ten competitors to the final in November.

“It’s great to see such a high calibre of young aircraft engineers coming through. I commend all of them for believing in themselves and having the guts to put themselves forward against other young high performing engineers to see who will be bestowed the title of New Zealand’s best young aircraft maintenance engineer.”

The National pre-selection competition judges, all volunteers from Airbus NZ, Air Force, Air NZ and ServiceIQ/Te Pukenga are either practising engineers or engineering trainers and most have judged in the WorldSkills Aircraft Maintenance competitions in previous years.

“The support the competition gets is a huge credit to the people within the aviation industry,” says Michael.