May 24th is officially World Aviation Maintenance Technician Day and it’s a special opportunity for us to celebrate the men and women behind some of aviation’s greatest technological developments and the evolution of the modern aircraft we know and love today.
TECHNICAL AVIATION AT FIREBLADE AVIATION
Here at Fireblade we prioritise technical innovation and safety, and our AMO (Approved Maintenance Organisation) team of top engineers and experienced technical staff have expertise in Bombardier, Leonardo and Pilatus products, amongst others, to ensure only the highest levels of aviation excellence. We are equipped to manage any range of maintenance and compliance requirements and are approved by the South African Civil Aviation Association to work on South African registered aircraft.
According to Fireblade team member Dumi Mdluli, our Executive and Accountable Person for Maintenance: “Aviation excellence means keeping in touch with the ever-evolving technology in the aviation space. We work with new technology, the oldest aircraft we have in our fleet is only about five years old, and we are equipped [and experienced] with the latest technology in the industry”.
WHAT IS AN AVIATION MAINTENANCE TECHNICIAN?
In a nutshell, AMTs are responsible for identifying any problems with the technical components of an aircraft, and then maintaining, repairing or replacing any parts or systems as required. It is a highly technical qualification that takes years to acquire, and encompasses an enormous amount of potential maintenance scenarios. “Anything to do with an airplane that can break, we fix,” says Mdluli. “From a toilet to an engine to a handle to a wheel, we are responsible for fixing it.”
While acquiring an AMT qualification can take around three years, the incredible technical nature of the industry requires that technicians remain committed to learning and innovating to stay up to date with all the latest developments in the field. “It’s a bit like becoming a doctor,” says Mdluli. “Just because you’ve qualified as a doctor it doesn’t mean you are qualified to operate on whoever you want. There are so many varieties of aircraft, and you need to attend training for each different kind of aircraft to obtain the necessary qualification. You never stop learning.”
Mdluli, who has 22 years of experience under his own belt, believes that’s what sets Fireblade apart from other FBO offerings. “ I believe that’s what makes Fireblade special. We work with six different types of aircraft, which is very rare for the industry, to have the technical experience for that kind of variety. Personally, I love working on helicopters, there are so many moving parts in so many different directions, it’s exciting and challenging. You cannot run out of things to look at.”
Thanks to the Fireblade team’s qualifications and expertise, we offer several different maintenance services like:
This generally includes straightforward and routine in-service inspections and rectifications that don’t usually impact the aircraft’s flight schedule and working status. This typically includes pre-flight checks and minor, scheduled maintenance tasks such as fixing a blown light or faulty intercom system, as an example. This routine and minor maintenance service should not affect the aircraft’s daily working business.
Base maintenance can involve the temporary removal of an aircraft from service to allow for a longer period of maintenance and can often have to do with routine inspections to comply with a specific number of flying hours for the aircraft. This maintenance typically occurs in a hangar and includes more technically demanding checks and repairs such as work on the engine, interior refurbishment or replacing major components.
AIRCRAFT ON GROUND
‘Aircraft on the Ground’ or AOG is a term indicating that a maintenance requirement is serious enough to prevent an aircraft from flying and specialised work is required to ensure the aircraft is fully compliant before it can take to the skies again.
WHAT IS THE HISTORY BEHIND AVIATION MAINTENANCE TECHNICIAN DAY?
While today celebrates all aviation technicians, the day originated as a way to specifically honour Charles E. Taylor, known as the “Father of Aircraft Maintenance.” Anyone who knows their aviation history will know the Wright Brothers are credited with being the first to succeed at aircraft flight as we know it, managing to be airborne for a full 59 seconds for a distance of 260 metres in a mechanised plane in 1903. What many people don’t know is that Charles E. Taylor was the mechanic behind the plane’s 12-horsepower engine, which propelled the Wrights’ airplane to its historic feat.
The trio originally met at the Wright brothers’ bicycle shop where Taylor was employed. As the Wrights began working on their passion project and built the airframe, Taylor spent six weeks meticulously building the world’s first mechanical aircraft engine with nothing but his bare hands and a few spare tools.
Taylor continued to be a leading expert in the budding aviation industry in the years that followed, designing aircraft engines for the Wright brothers and teaching them to build their own. When the Wrights opened their own airport he was named the airport manager, and he later went on to serve as chief mechanic for the first transcontinental flight in 1911, from New York to California. To honour his ongoing legacy in the industry, the late engineer’s birthday was dubbed World Aviation Technician Day.
At Fireblade Aviation we welcome this significant day honouring the aviation maintenance technicians who are a vital part of the Fireblade team. Thanks to their care, skills and meticulous work doing the literal groundwork, Fireblade Aviation passengers can enjoy the freedom of safe and comfortable travel.
Get in touch today to find out more about our extensive technical aviation and maintenance offering.