Wanaka aviation influence kickstarts career

Michael Hey, aeronautical maintenance engineer for Airbus Woodbourne
Michael Hey, aeronautical maintenance engineer for Airbus Woodbourne makes a visual inspection of the fuel filter he has removed at the WorldSkills New Zealand National Selection Competition in July.

12 October 2023

Growing up in Wanaka, Michael Hey, aeronautical maintenance engineer for Airbus Woodbourne says it was hard to ignore the influence of aviation on the area.

“With Warbirds over Wanaka being a huge biannual event and a healthy community of new and classic planes flying regularly throughout the year I wanted to get involved. I started my pilots license at 16 but decided that wasn’t quite what I wanted to do and instead looked at maintenance options.”

Michael is one of ten young aircraft maintenance engineers heading to Christchurch in November to compete in the National WorldSkills Aircraft Maintenance Competition.

In Year 13, a one-day a week work placement at Performance Aviation in Wanaka helped Michael get accepted into NMIT Woodbourne. After two years’ study for his pre-trade aeronautical qualifications, he took up a trainee role and three-year apprenticeship at Airbus Woodbourne.

Now, the Blenheim-based 24-year-old says is excited to showcase what he’s learnt in the professional competition. “It’s fun to see what other talent there is in the industry at my age and I’m always keen to work on new aircraft. I’d love to win the opportunity to head to France as well and compete internationally.”

“I’m always looking for ways to improve myself through training, courses, and exams. When I found out about the WorldSkills New Zealand competition through my training coordinator, I thought this was a great opportunity to showcase what I’d learnt.”

“Most tasks in the competition are things you do on an everyday basis. There are very high standards for the marking, and very tight deadlines to meet. It’s like your standard trade test but on the next level.”

“I like to think I hold the same standard I do at the competition as I do at work, to the point of treating the competition as just another day of work. However, I have been pushing myself to always do new jobs at work to broaden my experience in preparation for the next stage.”