Standing on a mezzanine by himself, he watched.
He saw mentoring between judges and college students as they learned insights on new ways to approach maintenance tasks. He observed professional aviation maintenance technicians (AMTs) pass Snap-on tools quickly to one another in a race against the clock to repair a turbo fan engine. He saw the comradery of teams as they high-fived each other for successfully completing events.
This is what the Aerospace Maintenance Competition Presented by Snap-on is all about, and the Honorable John Goglia could not have been prouder of what he watched last year.
The AMC, an event Goglia took over with Ken MacTiernan six years ago, truly embodies the characteristics of what it takes to be aircraft technicians. But perhaps what moves Goglia the most is how the event has transformed itself into a job shadow of sorts between the students and professional AMTs; tutelage that ensures the traits of knowledge, skill and integrity are handed down to the next generation of technicians.
“Here at the competition, what we do is mainly for the students,” said Goglia, a former National Transportation Safety Board member. “Our goal is to see that students receive mentoring and get them introduced into the business. The amount of mentoring going on between my generation, the old gray hairs, and the students, is really amazing.
“It’s really exciting to see this process take place. If you haven’t been here to see it, you’re missing out.”
Tisha Stone agreed. Stone, who previously participated in the AMC as part of Tulsa Tech’s 2017 collegiate team, said the mentorship with American Airlines Tulsa Tech Ops team was extremely valuable.
“The guys at American were great,” she said. “The mentorship actually started before we went to the AMC. They came to our school and showed us how to use different equipment. We were able to go to American and receive hands-on training. And then at the AMC they talked us through some of the challenges, were able to answer questions, and encourage us. I think the mentorship was the best part of going to the AMC.”
Students Learn from the Pros
This year, more than 20 schools are likely to join the record field of 80 worldwide teams expected to participate in the AMC (https://www.aerospacecompetition.com/), which will be held April 8-11, at the MRO Americas convention in Atlanta.
The Aerospace Maintenance Competition Presented by Snap-on has been described as the Super Bowl for the aviation maintenance industry. The AMC provides a venue for students and professional AMTs to come together in friendly competition, test their skills against each other, and give a loud shout-out of their presence in the industry.
“The AMC brings together the best of the best in aircraft maintenance,” said Ken MacTiernan, AMC chairman. “The AMC is about raising awareness among the public, and within the aviation industry, about the knowledge, skill, and integrity that today’s aircraft and spacecraft engineers and technicians possess.”
This year the AMC is getting bigger than ever, and it starts with the events. The competition is expanding to 31 challenges, which will test teams’ skill and expertise in areas such as avionics, safety wiring, fiber optics, cable rigging, hydraulics, jet engine troubleshooting, workplace SMS, and more. Teams compete to see who’s best among their category (Commercial Aviation, General Aviation, Space, School, Military and MRO/OEM). Each event has a 15-minute time limit, so the action is exciting, fast paced and great drama for spectators to watch.
Award for Excellence
All teams are competing for the privilege of taking home the grand prize in aviation maintenance – the William F. “Bill” O’Brien Award for Excellence in Aircraft Maintenance, presented by Snap-on. The team with the best overall score earns this prestigious award, which signifies the highest standard of excellence in aviation maintenance.
This year, teams will be chasing United Airlines Team Cleveland as they try to retain the O’Brien award for an unprecedented third year in a row. Last year, United sent four teams to the AMC from its various maintenance bases (San Francisco, Houston, Orlando and Cleveland). A few months prior to the competition, the teams converged for joint practices and strategy sessions, which Russ Peterson, captain of Team Cleveland, said helped his squad keep its edge and retain the trophy.
“We practiced and competed a lot against each other during the training to make our times better, and that helped us repeat,” Peterson said. “This was a great feat we accomplished last year, simply because of the high level of competition and every team wanting that trophy in their facility and to show just how great their maintenance is.”
Since last year’s training sessions went well, United will again be holding joint practices for its three teams representing the Commercial Category, and a fourth combined Houston and San Francisco team representing the MRO Category, in Houston in preparation for the AMC in April.
New Award for 2019
In addition to the larger field, the AMC is debuting The Paul Cousins Award for the top International team.
Paul Cousins, a former president of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association, and strong advocate of the AMC, passed away last year from cancer. MacTiernan credits Cousins with helping expand the AMC to airlines and MROs overseas.
“Paul was a great advocate for our profession, and naming this award after him is our way to honor and recognize his legacy,” MacTiernan said. “Wherever you are in the world, we all share the same responsibilities and standards. We belong to a global community of skilled craftspeople.”
The AMC has gone a long way toward shining a spotlight on the work AMTs perform every day. For the past two years, more than 25,000 people have watched the event through livestream; the competition is expected to be livestreamed this year as well.
“The majority of an AMT’s work is done behind the scenes. Mostly we like it that way, but on the other hand we don’t want to be forgotten about or taken for granted,” said Brian Mayhall, a member of American Airlines’ Tulsa Tech Ops team. “The AMC is a unique opportunity to show the kind of people we are and the kind of talents we have.”
Another area that’s new this year is expansion of the Aerospace Maintenance Council scholarships. The Council, which hosts the AMC, is accepting donations from industry organizations to increase funding of its Phoebe Omlie Award. Named after the first female to receive an FAA aircraft mechanic’s license in 1927, the Phoebe Omlie Award is available to both men and women who are enrolled in an FAA Part 147 school, and who are participating in the AMC.
Although the scholarship began just two years ago, seven students have received financial assistance. The Council is hoping to raise $20,000 this year. To make a financial donation to the Phoebe Omlie Award, email Crystal Maguire at [email protected]. For students to apply for the scholarship, visit https://www.aerospacecompetition.com/scholarship.html.
Steve Staedler is a senior account executive at LePoidevin Marketing, a Brookfield, Wisconsin-based business-to-business marketing firm that specializes in the tooling and aerospace industries. Steve has been covering aeronautical maintenance for more than 11 years; is a former newspaper reporter and retired master sergeant from the U.S. Air Force Reserve, where he worked maintenance and public affairs. He can be reached at [email protected]; 262-754-9550; www.lepoidevinmarketing.com.