The Aerospace Maintenance Competition Brings Team Mentality to Maintenance

If you want to see the best of the best in aviation maintenance, then you want see the Aerospace Maintenance Competition presented by Snap-on. The three-day event, which kicked off April 10 at MRO Americas, brings professional and student maintenance teams from around the world together to test their skills and aptitude.

The event is coordinated through the Aerospace Maintenance Council, a non-profit organization that promotes and supports the aerospace maintenance community. The AMC is the brainchild of The Honorable John Goglia, a former National Transportation Safety Board member with more than 40 years of aviation maintenance experience, and Ken MacTiernan, a mechanic with American Airlines for more than 30 years. It is also a bit like the Maintenance Olympics that the Professional Aviation Maintenance Association ran for a number of years.

Aviation Maintenance asked Goglia and MacTiernan to reflect on the AMC and the positive effect the event has on the industry.

What is the Aerospace Maintenance Competition?

JG: The AMC is the foremost international competitive skills event for aviation technicians. It connects professional technicians from major airlines, MROs and OEMs, as well as military personnel, and students in the aviation career path, so they can demonstrate their skills and knowledge of their craft.

KM: The Aerospace Maintenance Competition brings together the best of the best in aircraft maintenance. The AMC is about raising awareness among the public, and within the aviation industry, about the knowledge, skill and integrity that today’s aircraft and spacecraft engineers and technicians possess. The AMC was created to promote the craft so that others know what our responsibilities are, and newcomers know what to expect.

How does the AMC work?

JG: The AMC tests the multiple skills required for both basic and very detailed performance-based tasks. There are also events that require techs to use their minds. In aviation, it’s not just mechanical dexterity that gets you through the day, you have to use your head and think. That’s what aviation maintenance is all about, using your hands and head to come to a solution.

KM: Teams compete in 29 events, including safety wiring, composite repair, electrical troubleshooting, turbine engine and others, that challenge their knowledge, skill and team work. Teams have 15 minutes to complete each task and are awarded points on how fast they finish and the accuracy of their work.

The team earning the overall best score takes home the grand prize in aviation maintenance – the William F. “Bill” O’Brien Award for Excellence in Aircraft Maintenance. Presented by Snap-on, the coveted award signifies the highest standard of excellence in aviation maintenance. The winning team receives the honor of displaying the 5-foot tall traveling trophy in their facility for a year. Last year, the five-member team from United Airlines Team Cleveland was awarded the trophy, and it has been on display at the company’s facility at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

Why is the AMC a positive event for the aviation industry?

JG: The AMC was created to promote the craft so that others know what our responsibilities are, and newcomers to the industry know what to expect. It’s a competition in name only. Among aircraft technicians and maintainers, we’re one size fits all; we’re all in this together. You can see with the military teams, the corporate teams, the schools – everyone is mingling together. The amount of information that is shared makes our industry stronger, it’s just great.

KM: This event is important to the aviation industry because it shows the value of today’s aircraft engineers and technicians. We just don’t learn the basics and then stop improving our capabilities. We are continuously raising the bar by which we measure ourselves because nobody knows everything about an aircraft. Someone may be very proficient, but collectively we have tribal knowledge. What I don’t know, someone else does. Then they teach me and then I pass it along. That’s how we become stronger as a profession.

What do you hope participating teams take away from the AMC?

JG: This is the place where they come to demonstrate their knowledge, skills and ability in the trade they’ve chosen for their career. I want them to take away that they have a tremendous amount of knowledge within themselves. And even though the industry is a little slow in recognizing what the technician field brings to the table, the technicians themselves have tremendous pride in their own work.

KM: I want these participants to take away the knowledge that we belong to a global community of skilled craftspeople. An aircraft doesn’t care about my gender, the color of my skin or the color of my uniform, it cares about the knowledge, skill and integrity of the wrench that’s going to be fixing that aircraft. That’s what’s on display at the AMC. These men and women are the best of the best.

Why is the AMC a great venue for mentorship?

JG: The reason why mentoring flourishes at the AMC is because we’re all in this together. In between the events you have airline technicians talking directly to students, giving them pointers on how to do a specific task better and faster. They’re sharing real-world scenarios; explaining things that we have to do as mechanics when they get out to the job. These professional teams give so much back to the students, because they want them to succeed. Mentoring is alive and well, and I’m loving every minute of it.

KM: The AMC provides an industry wide opportunity for current students, as well as people considering entering the aircraft maintenance field, to meet and network with representatives from every sector of the aerospace maintenance community. With six different team categories, you will find that the AMC provides full coverage of our profession. Students have the ability to speak with individuals, and even companies, from the military, commercial airlines, corporate aviation, manufacturing and overhaul, and even the space sector. By offering these mentoring opportunities, the AMC is enabling students to find answers to their specific questions from the men and women who are actually performing the jobs they are interested in pursuing.

How beneficial is it to have Snap-on as the presenting sponsor?

JG: Snap-on is a perfect match for the AMC in that they share our same vision of what we try to accomplish every year. Knowledge, skill and integrity are three hallmarks that define the AMC, and Snap-on brings those same traits in their tools and support to the AMC. These are the same reasons why I have a tool box full of Snap-on tools at home.

KM: Snap-on’s involvement is a huge asset to have at the AMC. For technicians, engineers and students to do quality work, you need quality tools, and Snap-on is here helping teams succeed at the AMC.  They provide the tools used in the competition and Snap-on tool prizes to the winning teams. They’ve been with us for years and have proven to be a good partner.

You can learn more about the Aerospace Maintenance Competition Presented by Snap-on at www.aerospacecompetition.com.