In March of this year 23 teams of aircraft maintenance technicians competed against each other in the friendly competition known as the AMTSociety Maintenance Skills Competition. This international event represents general aviation, military, MRO, commercial aviation, and education sectors with teams from Australia, Canada, China, and the USA.
FedEx has been a strong supporter of the Maintenance Skills Competition with teams from Memphis and Indianapolis, as well as allowing the use of two Pratt & Whitney JT9 engines for competition tasks. In 2010 Mark Collins, an AMTSociety director and maintenance manager at FedEx LAX, approached LAX management and explained the benefits of allowing FedEx on the West Coast (LAX) to also participate. The opportunity to become a member of the 2011 team was posted requesting volunteers for the team from the Los Angeles District. Each year thereafter LAX FedEx has sent a team to the AMTSociety Maintenance Skills Competition and this year brought home the Snap-on sponsored William O’Brien Award for Excellence in Aircraft Maintenance.
Edited for length here are the stories of the individual AMTs on this year’s winning team.
Paul Germain - Team Captain
Little did I know that my dad, Hank Germain, who was already in the aviation business, would soon be shaping my world into a love of aviation? He started with a small air freight airline in Burbank, CA, called The Flying Tiger Line as an A&E (airframe and engine license as it was known then) mechanic and eventually retired as a 747 captain. Amazing from A&E to 747 captain! When I graduated from high school the decision was made! I would go to Northrop Rice Aviation Institute of Technology to get my A&P certificate. I held several jobs in general aviation but my dream was to work for an airline like my father.
One day my dad said “Flying Tigers” was hiring and I should put in an application. Sure enough they said I was hired with one catch; it was at JFK - I was 20 years old and I took it. Then a great company bought us, Federal Express, and I was soon working for one of the largest all freight airlines in the world. I’ve worked avionics in the hangar, LAX line maintenance, and currently at Bob Hope Airport, Burbank, CA. It’s been an exciting adventure working on the fleet of Boeing, Douglas and Airbus aircraft, going on road trips to fixed downed aircraft and special projects. Between Flying Tigers and FedEx it’s been 36 years - it’s been a great life!
When I was young I saw my brothers making and flying paper airplanes. From that moment on I was hooked on anything to do with airplanes. I followed my brother’s footsteps as an AMT going to school at Miramar City College in San Diego to pursue my dream to become an AMT.
Having been around the industry for more than 25 years I’ve worked for FedEx in LAX since 2000. I’ve held various types of jobs as an AMT such as sheet metal, hangar heavy maintenance, and composites. Before FedEx, I worked for McDonnell Douglas/Boeing as a structural mechanic, inspector, and a repair and modification mechanic (RAMS) for 12 years, and another few years for Rohr industry, and Teledyne Ryan as a structural mechanic on an AH64 Apache helicopter.
Troy E. Clark
After I received my first bicycle it was no time before I had it apart figuring out how things worked and making improvements. At a young age I learned auto mechanics from a neighbor long before high school auto shop. In 1983 a neighbor and I signed up for the Marine Corps as an aircraft mechanic. I was stationed at El Toro assigned to VMFA-314 power plants shop, working on FA/18 Hornets. During my tour of duty I was also assigned to the USS Coral Sea CV-43 based in the Mediterranean Sea. I was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 1987. I worked for McDonnell Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach from 1988 to 2000 working in different departments and on different McDonnell Douglas programs. I received my A&P license in 1998 just in time to be laid off from McDonnell Douglas/Boeing in late 2000.
After a three month employment with American Airlines LAX, FedEx called me for an interview and subsequently FedEx LAX employed me in January 2001. At LAX we do heavy checks on MD-10s where every aircraft has a different level of maintenance making every day interesting. FedEx LAX has a great group of people to work with. I feel fortunate and have a level of experience and opportunities that I may not have elsewhere.
I was born at Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, NY, where my father was a tail gunner on the B52. Growing up in an Air Force family I guess you could say that I was “preordained to have a career in aviation.” Some of my first memories were mom driving us all out to the flight line to watch the BUFF’s take off. I was the youngest of five and had lots of bicycle parts to make something work. Growing up my older brother would take us to the airshows around Colorado where one of my favorite was held at the Air Force Academy. After high school I traveled a little while and then returned home to Colorado and enrolled at Aero Tech in 1986.
I started my first job in 1988 with West Air Airlines, a United Express Commuter located in Fresno, CA. The rest of that year was spent learning all I could working in the hangar. We had a fleet of aircraft from the BAe-146 down to the EMB-110. After a few other jobs my dream job showed up in September of 1996; United Airlines. I got married and our second son landed in May of 2001, just four months before the terrorist attack on 9-11. The events of that day I will never forget, or the tail number of my airplanes that were lost that day. Eventually the layoff notices went out and in November of 2003 I started my new job with FedEx - truly the best job I’ve ever had. My career in aviation has been up and down, but from the first day of my first job to now I’ve never been unemployed. With all the training and skills we require in this profession, there are very few jobs that we are not qualified for.
The youngest of the FedEx LAX team, I can remember I’ve always liked taking things apart and putting them back together. I thought I was going to end up in auto maintenance. I don’t know why, but my calling went toward aviation. It was the best decision I have ever made. After graduating from high school, I went straight to Northrop Rice Aviation Institute of Technology where I acquired my A&P at the age of 18. I got my first aviation job at Hawthorne airport as a mechanic apprentice for a small charter company. After several jobs I found my way back to LAX to work for American Eagle Airlines working line maintenance on Saab 340, Embraer 140, and 145s. After two and a half years, I applied at FedEx to work in the tool crib in hopes of becoming an AMT for FedEx. After two and a half years in the tool crib, my wish came true, and I was finally hired on as an AMT for FedEx in the composite shop.
Looking back in my aviation career of 14 years, I learned traits from almost every aspect of what we do in our profession from general aviation, line maintenance, hangar maintenance to manufacturing. All of the experience that I have gathered at my previous jobs helped me qualify and attain my current position at FedEx as a senior AMT.
Reaching my 10th anniversary with FedEx felt like a big accomplishment. These past 14 years in aviation have been like a dream. FedEx has been one of the best companies I have ever worked for, and I wish to continue until the end of my aviation career.
The AMTSociety Maintenance Skills Competition exists to promote the role of the AMT and to raise the level of professionalism within the aircraft maintenance industry. Congratulations to Team FedEx LAX for fulfilling the challenge.