Ben Greenaway, training manager at UK-headquartered line maintenance and training specialist Storm Aviation, discusses its training vision and the need for firms to be proactive about finding future skills.
What capabilities does Storm hold for its training center located at London Stansted Airport?
As a UK CAA approved Part 147 aircraft type training provider, we hold capabilities for maintenance training for B1.1 (Mechanical) and B2 (Avionic) engineers on a variety of aircraft. These range from latest generation aircraft such as the Airbus A380 to mature types such as the A320 classic and Boeing 737NG. Our training suite caters for up to 22 trainees, each with his or her own computer station that is connected to maintenance documentation such as an aircraft maintenance manual, illustrated parts catalogue and minimum equipment list.
You are a Part 147 engineer training provider based near Stansted Airport. How has Storm changed its course offerings in recent years?
We extended our A380 approval to include the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine. Our largest A380 customer, Emirates, has a fleet of A380 EA GP7200 engine aircraft, for which we
originally catered our training. With the announcement that Emirates was including 50 Trent 900-powered airframes to its fleet, we took the proactive step of adding the approval before the first aircraft had even flown. As part of this, we examined our training schedules and have been working hard to modularize our courses to easily allow engineers to participate in certain sections or the 'differences'. This allows trainees to sit just the relevant chapters and sections that they require--for example, a qualified A380 EA GP7200 engineer can just complete the Trent 900 engine modules of a full course. This allows us to run a single course with trainees 'hopping on and off,' while preventing unnecessary repetition and keeping course attendance times to a minimum, with the obvious economic benefits to customers.
How has the firm looked to innovate its training methods?
One of the biggest steps we have taken is to produce full photographic aircraft visits presentations. These are very low tech but extremely effective. It allows instructors to take advantage of our twin-screen presentation setup and show training notes and schematics on one screen and actual maintenance photos on the other. Additionally, during aircraft visits or practical training, the instructor and trainees have access to these presentations on tablets/personal devices and it allows the instructor to show certain parts, areas and angles that may not be under maintenance at that particular time. These have been very well received to a point that some of our competitors have requested a copy.
What can you tell us about any future plans for Storm’s training center or line maintenance offerings?
As we are a supplier to major airlines, we need to be responsive to their needs. In 2017, we will be moving to supply training on the A320neo aircraft and their Pratt & Whitney PW1100G and CFM Leap engine types.
How can commercial MRO best tackle the skills gap that exists in the industry?
At the turn of the 21st century, there was a move to consolidate fleet types but with the launch of the next generation of aircraft, it now appears de rigueur to have a multi-fleet operation. Unfortunately for operators, due to this eclectic mix of airframe types operated by many airlines, there are often instances where a Part 145 MRO is unable to recruit the 'right peg for the hole,' meaning that a new employee will often spend his first two to three months in a classroom. MROs need to be positive and communicate with their existing and potential customers, monitor delivery schedules and understand the network to ensure that their regulatory requirements, in regards manpower requirements, are met. This in turn means medium- to long-term cooperation with the training organization to ensure that there is sufficient training capacity especially in the winter months, when it is easier to release core staff.