Charles Taylor Award Winner Teaches It Forward

May 18, 2023
Over his career, George Perrin has strived for continual growth and to pass on what he's learned.

Celebrating a lifetime of work in the aviation field, George Perrin, senior manager of tech ops training, Spirit Airlines, was awarded the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award earlier this year. Recently, Perrin was the keynote speaker for MIAT College of Technology’s 2023 graduating class of the airframe and power plant program. He was presented the award at the graduation to illustrate that aviation industry can provide a long, rewarding career.

“Receiving the Charles Taylor Award is to me almost like an animation. It's like you don't really run a clock on yourself on how long you've been doing something in one area, until something like the Charles Taylor Award comes around. And to understand that it's been truly more than 50 years in the airline and the aviation industry is a dose of reality, a lot of years have passed.

"But at the same time, I remind myself of truly how much I have witnessed, how many really smart people I’ve met, plus how much I’ve learned, and at the end of the day, my internal and external resources are much broader than I ever imagined,” Perrin said.

Perrin’s interest in aviation was piqued in the early 1970s while working as a paperboy, where he made a friend whose older brother worked for the airlines.

“Through my friend’s connection, we were picked up and taken out to a major airfield, which is now called Detroit Metropolitan Airport. We spent midnight shifts with him at a company called Allegheny Airlines while he was performing maintenance on the aircraft,” Perrin recalled.

While finishing middle school, he gained entrance into Aero Mechanics High School in Detroit, Michigan, and attained his A&P. At the same time he was going to school, Perrin worked for Wright Airlines.

“I worked cargo and baggage handling while I was going to A&P school, so I'd already begun to connect with a 121 carrier. Within about a year or so, I was elevated to the position of station operations manager in Columbus, Ohio when I finished my A&P studies,” Perrin said.

Perrin stayed with Wright for two years before deciding to go into general aviation get his IA license. As it turns out, the FSDO director that issued his IA told Perrin he was the youngest person in the state of Michigan to get an IA certificate at the time.

“The math just worked that way because I was able to get my A&P license at a young age coming out of high school, so I stayed in it from that point on. I ended up working for Butler Aviation as one of their techs and I became a lead and did the IA work at Butler Aviation,” Perrin said.

From Butler, Perrin would rejoin the airlines, working for what would become Delta Air Lines at Metropolitan Airport, where he worked for 30 years, fulfilling many job duties.

While working for Delta as an aircraft technician, Perrin earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Wayne State University.

At the time he left Delta, Perrin was a senior lead overseeing aircraft maintenance technicians and electricians at the hangar operations in Detroit. Following his retirement from Delta, he returned to his original high school, which had changed its name to Benjamin O. Davis, and taught prospective A&P students.

Hearing an internal calling to get back to the airlines, Perrin in 2015 began working for his current employer: Spirit Airlines, which at the time was flying an all Airbus fleet.

“We were going to be the first in the world to take on this new high bypass engine from Pratt and Whitney, the PW1100G-JM. Also they were having an inauguration set up, and I was assisting on the operation side getting everything set up as a Spirit operations manager,” Perrin said.

The event helped reconnect Perrin’s roots with the tech ops side, and he would accept a job offer to with the Tech Ops Training department.

But before moving to his current role as senior manager tech ops training, Perrin was chosen to help with an audit in Spirits’ heavy check facility.

“We were there for a week and I wrote a pretty detailed report, speaking to dozens of people within the facility and observed the operations for countless hours. Spirit appreciated my observations, assessments and recommendations, and after a period of time of being an instructor and doing instructional things, and also helping them with the auditing part, I was promoted to a manager of the tech apps training department. I served in that role until a couple years ago where I was promoted to senior manager of Tech Ops Training.”

Today and Tomorrow

Currently, as a senior manager of tech ops training at Spirit Airlines, Perrin oversees the department and the instructors who do the training. In this role, Perrin is responsible for Spirit’s maintenance training manual and assists in writing training programs for several departments.

“So overseeing all the instructors is one of the things, but we're always rebuilding the programs and we do that independently in-house for training people in many different areas, on many parts and processes of the aircraft. The fuselages, the 319, 320, 321, APUs, quite a bit of smaller task related items that we have as independent classes. But making sure that we have the proper programs that are needed for the challenges we have here at Spirit for our technicians to return the aircraft back to service in a timely and safe manner,” Perrin described.

Perrin said his career has been rewarding in many ways. During his time with Spirit, he said there have been fewer letters of investigation from the FAA and corrective action reports (CARs) from internal audits.

“From experience, he’s learned if you're doing the processes correctly and those processes are compliant, then no matter who looks at what you're doing or how it's being done, there won't be any negative audit findings.

“And since I took over the department over five years ago, we haven't had any letters of investigation, or CARs, written against us. One reason may be because we meet quarterly, my team does, and we look at all the manuals, we look at all of our training and we want to make sure that what the FAA is wanting to see, is what the manuals are saying, and that means that is what we must be actually doing,” he said.

Another rewarding experience has been taking his entire department to the World Aviation Training Summit (WATS) Conference, which Perrin has been a speaker at for the past three years.

“Some of the conversations bring on a lot of dialogue, which tends to open the eyes of the operators, airlines, departments, and the rest, including the FAA,” Perrin said of the conference. “It's a really good thing, and it's been an honor to speak at the WATS Conference and meet up with my equals at all the other airlines, where we don't exchange what's going on in the market of the industry or our company, but we do discuss what we can do better on the training side to keep the metal moving safely in the air. So during these events, I find myself having a lot of fun, but we do get to see people that we develop and grow strong relationships with.”

Perrin said it’s important for him to attend programs and events to share what he's learned and learn from others, adding that he’s learned a lot in his life over chance meetings.

Reflecting on his own career in aviation, Perrin said it’s been an incredible journey.

“To start all over, to do it all again, I would actually do the same thing. I had an option to go into medicine or aviation, and I chose aviation. I'm really glad I did; it's been an exciting career,” he said.

As he looks to the future, Perrin hopes to one day continue his education and obtain a PhD in aviation technology.

“It would beat sitting around in my senior years reading a bunch of fictional stories or novel to pass the time. Real events and stories hit home with me, and if I’m not growing, I’m standing still, and I can’t do that,” Perrin said.