Repeat Champions! United Airlines Team Cleveland Wins 2018 William F. “Bill” O’Brien Award for Excellence in Aircraft Maintenance Presented by Snap-on

April 30, 2018
The William F. “Bill” O’Brien Award for Excellence in Aircraft Maintenance is the grand prize for the team with the overall winning score in the Aerospace Maintenance Competition.

Kenosha, Wis., April 27, 2018 – A dynasty of excellence in aircraft maintenance is forming in Northern Ohio as United Airlines Team Cleveland repeated as champions in the annual Aerospace Maintenance Competition Presented by Snap-on.

United Airlines Team Cleveland topped 67 other teams from around the world, the most ever to compete, in route to capturing the famed William F. “Bill” O’Brien Award for Excellence in Aircraft Maintenance. It was awarded at the Aerospace Maintenance Competition Presented by Snap-on, April 9-12, at the MRO Americas Convention in Orlando.

“It’s amazing winning this award again, there’s no other way to describe it,” said Jack Waldeck, aircraft maintenance technician, United Airlines. “The support we received from United was great, we couldn’t ask for anything more. We trained very hard, which is why this is so satisfying for us. We’re very excited to bring the O’Brien trophy back to Cleveland.”

Joining Waldeck on United Airlines Team Cleveland were Harold Dschuhan, Daniel Morrison, Garrett Morrison, R.J. Peterson, David Vance, Brian Hall (coach) and Russ Peterson (captain).

“It’s very gratifying to see the commitment from United and they’re behind us 100 percent,” Team Captain Russ Peterson said. “This year we had four teams entered in the competition (Cleveland, San Francisco, Houston and Orlando); it’s great having United behind all of us competing in the AMC.”

The William F. “Bill” O’Brien Award for Excellence in Aircraft Maintenance is the grand prize for the team with the overall winning score in the Aerospace Maintenance Competition. The 4-foot tall O’Brien trophy will be on display at United Airlines’ Cleveland maintenance facility for the next 12 months. The trophy, which features a bust of Charles E. Taylor, an aviation pioneer who built and maintained the first aircraft engine used by the Wright Brothers. Sponsorship of the Award is part of Snap-on’s continued commitment to the Aerospace Maintenance Competition and aviation maintenance technicians around the world.

“The Aerospace Maintenance Competition Presented by Snap-on is designed to demonstrate the highly technical skills and knowledge that’s required of aviation technicians today,” said Tom Murray, Director of Marketing & Business Development, Snap-on Industrial. “We’re very proud of all the participating teams, and especially the talented professionals at United Airlines Team Cleveland for repeating as champions. When you take home the William O’Brien trophy, you’re the best of the best in the MRO profession.”

The Aerospace Maintenance Competition Presented by Snap-on, and hosted by the Aerospace Maintenance Council (, is an event that gives teams of licensed AMTs, AMEs, international military personnel and qualified aviation maintenance students the chance to test their aviation maintenance skills against those of their peers. The competition included 28 challenges in areas such as avionics, safety wiring, fiber optics/flight control rigging, hydraulics, jet engine troubleshooting, workplace safety SMS and other tasks. Teams had 15 minutes to accurately complete each task; teams that finished their tasks in less than the allotted time received higher scores.  

“The Aerospace Maintenance Competition 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. The AMC was created to promote the craft so that others know what our responsibilities are, and newcomers know what to expect,” said Ken MacTiernan, chairman of the Aerospace Maintenance Competition.

School Category; Other Top Finishers

This year, 25 school teams entered the competition, with Aviation Institute of Maintenance Houston taking home top honors.

“When they announced we won, I think the tears started flowing a little bit,” said Michael Riccardelli, team captain and instructor, Aviation Institute of Maintenance Houston.

This is the school’s first championship in nine years at the AMC. Riccardelli said the team put in more than 200 hours of practice in preparation for this year’s event, and three returning team members collectively had more than 500 hours of practice.

“The reason why it’s important we come to the AMC every year is to get our students noticed and let the industry know that we have some really good technicians coming out,” Riccardelli said. “I’m very proud of our team, and excited for their futures as they embark on their careers. 

Top finishers in other categories included:

MRO/OEM Category

  • 1st place: FedEx Express - Indianapolis
  • 2nd place: Boeing
  • 3rd place: United Airlines - Houston

School Category

  • 1st place: AIM Houston
  • 2nd place: Utah State University
  • 3rd place: Broward College - Team 1

Military Category

  • 1st place: United States Coast Guard - C-27J APO
  • 2nd place: United States Coast Guard - Air Station Clearwater
  • 3rd place: United States Air Force - McConnell 22 MXG/931 MXG

Commercial Category

  • 1st place: United Airlines - Cleveland
  • 2nd place: Alaska Airlines - Seattle
  • 3rd place: American Airlines - Dallas

General Aviation Industry

  • Phillips 66

International Category

  • 1st place - Qantas
  • 2nd place - Jetstar
  • 3rd place - Flybe

Female Team Category

  • 1st place – United Airlines/Chix Fix

United Competing with Professionalism Award

  • Broward College Team 1

Charles E. Taylor Professional AMT Award

  • Industry: Staff Sgt. Christopher Culp, United States Army – 128th Aviation Brigade
  • Student: Yolanda Gong, West Los Angeles College

Phoebe Omlie Scholarship Award (Phoebe Omlie was the first female to receive an FAA aircraft mechanic’s license in 1927).

  • Jordan Bankhead – Utah State University
  • Yolanda Gong – West Los Angeles College
  • Rachel Lattin – Wichita Area Technical College
  • Roy Quintuna – Aviation High School

In addition to the William F. “Bill” O’Brien Award for Excellence in Aircraft Maintenance, Snap-on provided all the tools and equipment used by the participants during the competition and donated more than $75,000 in tools and equipment prizes to top finishers in the competition. More than 50 other companies, educational institutions, community organizers and individual volunteers contributed time, resources, prizes, product and airline miles to the event. Premium sponsors included American Airlines and Pratt & Whitney.

For more information about Snap-on, call 877.740.1900, or visit For information on the Aerospace Maintenance Competition, visit To watch a recap of the 2018 Aerospace Maintenance Competition, visit

About Snap-on Industrial

Snap-on Industrial is a division of Snap-on Incorporated, a leading global innovator, manufacturer and marketer of tools, diagnostics, equipment, software and service solutions for professional users.  Products and services include hand and power tools, tool storage, diagnostics software, information and management systems, shop equipment and other solutions for vehicle dealerships and repair centers, as well as customers in industry, government, agriculture, aviation and natural resources.  Products and services are sold through the company’s franchisee, company-direct, distribution and Web-based channels. Founded in 1920, Snap-on is a $3.7 billion, S&P 500 Company headquartered in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

About Aerospace Maintenance Council

The Aerospace Maintenance Council is a non-profit organization that promotes and supports the aviation maintenance profession. The council’s flagstone event, the Aerospace Maintenance Competition, recognizes and celebrates the aviation maintenance technician, and raises awareness of the knowledge and skill required to maintain safe, airworthy aircraft, worldwide.