Raj – Engineer, Technical Operations
Tell us about your role at Virgin Atlantic and what an average day looks like for you, if there is such a a thing!
I studied Aeronautical Engineering at Loughborough University then joined Virgin Atlantic’s Engineering Graduate Scheme. The Graduate Scheme is a two-year scheme where the Graduate rotates through different divisions within Engineering. This includes invaluable time in the Hangar and on the Ramp. The Graduate scheme provides a good overview of the Airline and Engineering. I then joined a dynamic team within Engineering called Fleet Technical Support. The Support department takes on tasks from the various divisions within Engineering, thereby smoothing out the peaks and troughs that invariably occur within Engineering. This is a great department where you get involved in a wide variety of tasks, projects and disciplines.
I currently work in Technical Operations, which has the authoritative and final decision on any operational and maintenance issues. The department operates 24/7 and maintains close ties to other departments like Quality Assurance, Safety, Commercial, Operations, Planning and Materials to ensure the highest possible technical reliability and minimise operational disruption.
Specifically in my role, I work shifts and some of my responsibilities include monitoring aircraft health, formulating corrective actions and managing Aircraft On Ground (AOG) situations.
How did you first become interested in Engineering and what do you most enjoy about your role?
I have always been interested in aircraft and airline business, so choosing to work in an aircraft engineering division of an airline was a natural choice.
Virgin Atlantic’s Engineering department is full of incredibly experienced people with a wealth of knowledge. From starting in the Graduate scheme until today – there is always someone willing to help and impart their knowledge. I certainly would not be where I am today without the support of these fantastic people.
During challenging times, we all pull together to get the Operation back into shape. An example being an AOG situation in Orlando where G-VXLG suffered spoiler damage. I came in on my day off to coordinate the recovery by acting as AOG focal, liaising with the different divisions within Virgin Engineering and Boeing.
Working AOGs are the biggest challenge in Technical Operations due to the pressure involved in recovering aircraft in a timely manner. It is also my favourite part of working in Technical Operations and Virgin Atlantic in general – during a crisis everyone pulls together to achieve something great.
What is your best memory of working at Virgin Atlantic?
I have many great memories of my time at Virgin Atlantic; the most vivid is being part of the B747 heavy maintenance contract negotiations when working in the Outsourced Based Maintenance division.
It involved long days working closely with a small group of brilliant people and lots of legal jargon – where the smallest tweak in the contract would made a huge difference to the costs.
It doesn’t sound fun on paper, but it was fascinating as I hadn’t experienced anything like that before. It goes to show there is so much more to Virgin Engineering than what one might first assume.
How would you describe the culture at Virgin Atlantic?
Relaxed but professional. Here, crisis brings the best out of people. We’ve seen this time and time again during Aircafts on the Ground situations – all divisions pull together to get the Operation back on track. It is fantastic to be a part of, and does make you proud.
I feel it’s also important to highlight the incredibly helpful and knowledgeable Engineers we have here at Virgin Atlantic. So long as you’re keen to learn – there is always someone willing to share their experience and knowledge.
Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone contemplating joining or applying to work at Virgin Atlantic?
You need to be keen to learn and naturally interested in aircraft. You also need to be a real team player – always willing to support your colleagues and the Operation. Finally, be a people person – have a laugh, be selfless and you’ll fit in.
If you have the above, everything else will follow.
How would you sum up Virgin Atlantic in one word?
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