Christoph Winkelmann 2 images

Getting the job done in challenging conditions

Line Maintenance Engineer
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After working for SR Technics Switzerland for the past 13 years, I was one of the engineers who were transferred to SWISS Maintenance as part of the Manumea project, which took place last April in 2012.

I enjoy working for an airline, knowing that the airplanes I am working on are actually the company’s that I am actually employed at and not just the belongings of a customer. We are responsible for keeping the aircraft airworthy and fit to fly – all the time. Another advantage of my employment at SWISS is that I benefit from reduced travel fares, which allows me to pursue my hobby – kitesurfing – with great passion.

The SWISS Line Maintenance in ZRH performs Daily & Weekly checks for the entire SWISS fleet (there are about 160 daily departures outbound from ZRH). Sometimes it is very challenging to finish a job in time because the aircraft are on ground for only a very short time. When the aircraft arrives or shortly before it departs again, it can happen that the crew reports a defect which needs immediate repair. If a technical problem occurs during the flight, the cockpit crew can to contact the maintenance control center via radio to ask for advice about what would be best to do. Finally, the defect will be taken care of by our qualified team of SWISS engineers as soon as the aircraft is back in the parking position. What really keeps me going is the fact that after some hectic moments I can release the aircraft back into service, knowing that all is well with the airplane.

During my career as an aircraft engineer, I also had the opportunity to spend six months abroad in Bahrain, where our team had to perform the repairs and maintenance checks of the aircraft under very difficult circumstances. The outside temperature, for example, was around 40 – 50 degrees and also the communication was very tricky at some points. Sometimes we even had to perform maintenance work outdoors on the tarmac during sand storms when the hangar was closed for maintenance.

In case you are also interested in becoming a qualified aircraft engineer, it takes several years to learn the trade. First of all you need a basic mechanical education, followed by basic modules which are taught by an approved EASA Part-147 organization. Once you have all the required modules according to the license level you are applying for, your papers will be submitted to the national authorities. You then have the chance to integrate individual type ratings (aircraft type) into your license. With the relevant authorization from the company, you are then allowed to perform maintenance work.

Looking to the future, I am excited at the prospect of being trained on SWISS’s new aircraft type, the Bombardier CSeries, whose operational launch is foreseen for 2014.


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