Note: The acronym AME in the aviation industry stands for, “Aircraft Maintenance Engineer”. It takes approximately 7-10 years of education + on the job experience to become independently proficient, and fully certified on various aircraft types. An AME is responsible for carrying out predefined safety inspections, major structural repairs, overhauls, power plant (engine) changes, configurations of avionics, hydraulics, and flight controls. The difference between an “Aircraft Mechanic” and an “AME” is that the AME is held personally responsible for all work on the aircraft and must sign a legally binding log book after all work is concluded. This heavy burden of responsibility placed on AME certified employees has long been one of the key factors in sustaining the remarkable safety statistics in modern aviation. At Coulson Aviation, in Australia and the around the world, we place the highest priority on safety first and that starts with our team members.
These are their stories...
Macauley Allen virtually grew up in a hangar and around aircraft. Nick Valenzisi is a trained pilot with an AME background in the military.
Both Nick and Macauley started working for Coulson Aviation Australia in August last year as 412 Aircraft Maintenance Engineers.
The two have recently returned from the United States where they completed a specialist course at Bell Helicopter Training Academy as part of the certification process for their Bell 412 Type Ratings.
A pandemic, a Texas snow storm, and 14 days of quarantine upon return provided a few challenges, but the benefit of the practical training was huge, including open access to a 412 Bell helicopter in the factory they could disassemble.
The course provided an intense learning and testing environment, with access to instructors with 40 years of experience, and comprehensive training aids, “normally, you just wouldn’t get that experience in such a short amount of time,” Nick said.
Coulson Aviation Australia operates two Bell 412 helicopters, two Cessna Citations, and a 737 FIRELINER on behalf of New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS); which owns and tasks the aircraft according to the State’s emergency response requirements.
Macauley said this means that every day working for Coulson Aviation Australia and with NSW RFS can bring something different. This can include daily checks, talking to the pilots to check for any issues, planning for scheduled maintenance/ modifications, or undertaking field maintenance.
Having been busy working in flood response, each Bell 412 helicopter will shortly undergo planned heavy maintenance as part of the normal schedule.
“I’ve always loved aviation and had an interest in the mechanical aspect of helicopters” Nick said. “The best way to understand how things work is through the process of disassembly to gain access to the individual components within a system, to understand how that relates to the function it performs, and the effect it has on the operation of the aircraft”.
Of the six current Coulson Aviation Australia engineers, four are Bell 412 Type rated and two are on the way to gaining their type certifications.
“We’ve got a really good crew and that’s important. This is something new and it’s just the start. There are lots of opportunities,” Macauley said.
He’s focused on continuing to learn and strengthen his engineering and mechanical knowledge base with the Bell 412 helicopters.
“This is not something you can learn on a four-week course. You need to be working on the machines for 5 or 10 years to really understand what you’re doing, it’s a good challenge.”