Reflecting on a life in aviation – for work and pleasure!
Adam Lewis lives and breathes aviation – he’s been an aircraft engineer since he left school, got his PPL licence at 21 and spends his spare time playing with powered model aircraft. His job has taken him all over the world and allowed him to work on all manner of light aircraft, and his love of the job means he has no hesitation recommending a life of engineering to anyone else pondering it as a career. Here, he talks to us about his life in aviation.
What does a typical day look like for you?
There is no typical day for me – as a freelance aircraft engineer, I work on a variety of light aircraft at their home airfields. Routine maintenance, servicing, permit renewals and more is all part of the job.
How has your career progressed?
I became an apprentice aircraft engineer aged 18 and worked within maintenance organisations where I gained my experience. The opportunity to go it alone came along in 2011, and I’m now am a self-employed aircraft engineer with my own company that I’ve loved building from the ground up.
What do you love most about working in the aviation industry?
I’ve always held a keen interest in anything that flies, influenced by my father. Being around planes, carrying out test flights, helping people do the past time they love, meeting new people a long the way, I love it all!
What is one of your fondest memories from your aviation career?
I worked and paid for my own training to obtain my Private Pilot Licence. After 45 hours of training and ground school exams I achieved my PPL at age 21.
What has been one of your most challenging times in this industry?
Regulatory change – for example, the radio frequency change that meant all aircraft by the end of 2018 in Europe needed to be fitted with 8.33khz spaced radios. This had a massive effect on most light aircraft, as they all had to have new radios fitted.
What one piece of technology will have the most significant impact on the aviation industry?
Tablets have revolutionised the general aviation industry by introducing apps as navigation tools rather than using the standard paper map, pen and ruler.
What do you believe are the key challenges that need to be addressed within the sector you worked?
Airspace in the UK needs an overhaul as it too archaic. Regulators need to be brought in to the 21st century, as most things in the aviation industry are 20 years behind.
What’s the greatest misconception people have about your job?
That I’m just an engineer, grease monkey! There is more to it than that, I have to diagnose problems manually rather than having the high tech diagnostic machines which car garages have these days. Not all parts are off the shelf, parts have to be sourced, made, customised to fit aircraft.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get into your job / sector?
I would encourage it, as there are not many young people coming in to the industry these days. Most young people these days want to work within technology based careers, not getting their hands dirty. It’s hard work – there’s a lot to learn and so many scenarios to cover, and I’m still learning now. To become a licensed engineer, the sit down academic exams are tough. But would be so worthwhile if it is a career you would like to pursue.