Kirsten – Technical Delivery Manager, A350 Cabin
Kirsten joined Virgin Atlantic back in 2006 as a contractor soon after graduating from Loughborough University with a Masters in Aeronautical Engineering.
‘I was excited to get an opportunity to see what life was like working as an Engineer for an airline. Arriving into Virgin Atlantic, I was really pleased to be working on the oversight of airworthiness and maintenance for operational commercial aircraft, which I soon found to be far more interesting to me than design and industrialisation of small sub components, which would probably have been my job if working for an aircraft or component manufacturer like Rolls Royce.
I enjoyed my work so much that when the applications for the Virgin Atlantic Engineering Graduate Programme became available later that year, I jumped at the chance to apply. I was successful and started a two year programme made up of various 12 week placements. It’s a brilliant opportunity to get a wide knowledge of the many different roles available within Engineering, as well as introducing you to hundreds of people around the company’.
Kirsten’s first permanent position after completing the graduate scheme was within the team managing the intensive maintenance and overhaul of the fleet (a bit like taking your car in for a full service) which was carried out by specialist external suppliers around the world. The job enabled her to combine commercial, contractual and engineering tasks as well as embarking on lots of overseas travel to visit the maintenance providers.
‘I learned a huge amount about our fleet operation; how we schedule in gaps to the flying programme to carry out the maintenance and how we work with our finance division to manage these very costly maintenance inputs’.
Kirsten says, ‘since my first role, I’ve had the most amazing opportunities at Virgin Atlantic and have been fortunate enough to work on some really exciting projects. The company has provided me with the training to help me develop in my career and I completed the Association of Project Manager Practitioner certification (APMP) which has proved invaluable in running projects over the years.
I was part of the team transforming Virgin Atlantic Engineering to be ready to accept our flagship fleet of 787-900 Dreamliners, which really helped to modernise our maintenance programmes and reporting and led to the introduction of mobile IT systems and tablets for the Maintenance Engineers to use while working on our aircraft.
We also supported the training flying schedule to ensure all of our crew could be trained up in time ready for the launch. The timeframes were tight as we had to ensure this was all completed 6-8 weeks before the aircraft went into revenue service’.
Kirsten’s first management role was managing a team of 8 Design & Development Engineers whilst working as part of the ‘Cabin Interiors’ team.
‘My team looked after everything from the galleys and toilets on board the aircraft through to looking at the long term fleet development contracts that maintain the look of the cabin. We also got involved in the early development of new cabin concepts from a design and customer experience perspective.’
Working on the A350 Project
Kirsten has recently taken over as the cabin technical delivery manager on the A350 project, the next generation of aircraft that is due to join the fleet.
‘My role is all about turning concepts into reality. Virgin Atlantic is known for trying to do things differently and our Customer Experience team are great at coming up with new and innovative designs for the cabin interior. My job is to make sure that these designs are compliant to the airworthiness regulations and that involves liaising with our aircraft and seating manufacturers to ensure that the products which will be installed on our aircraft will be both safe and maintainable, whilst still delivering an exciting and innovative on-board experience for our customers. I’m confident that with our plans for the Airbus A350 our customers are going to be ‘wowed’ when the aircraft comes into operation.
It’s a great role as I get to interact across all areas of the business from the Customer Experience & Design teams through to the Cabin Crew so I’m not just talking with Engineers every day. It’s given me a great insight into different sides of the business at Virgin Atlantic and I find that aspect really exciting, it’s amazing to see how my role has evolved over the years’.
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