Hello, I Am Farhiya
My apprenticeship has been awesome as I work on the job, gaining practical experience I wouldn’t have received if I continued with my degree all while getting paid and avoiding student debt!
Tell us more about your experience
As an Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Apprentice, my day-to-day role is rarely the same. My responsibilities focus on the upkeep of our fleet to ensure we deliver serviceable and airworthy aircraft to our customers. Throughout my placement, I’ve had the opportunity to work within different units of the Heathrow base, including Minor Maintenance and Longhaul Casualty. These placements last four to six months, so we really get the exposure required to gain valuable experience.
I have worked on a range of aircraft in our fleet, such as the Boeing 747s, 787s, and 777s, as well as our Airbus 380s. Longhaul Casualty provides support to our longhaul aircraft, which often require in-depth maintenance, like engine changes, structural repairs, or cycled gear swings. Whereas the Minor Maintenance Unit aids in scheduled maintenance and checks of the longhaul fleet. The tasks here range from emergency slide replacements to reading light replacements.
The removal and installation of engines from an aircraft is one of the most exciting jobs I’ve worked on. A Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engine from a 787-9 weighs around six tonnes. The drop or lift of an engine requires a lot of prep – it takes a team of eight engineers to safely conduct this! Without efficient teamwork, these jobs wouldn’t happen. This task requires everyone to work simultaneously with the command of a Licensed Aircraft Engineer to check the engine is positioned correctly prior to attaching all components, pipework, or electrical connections and before being placed on an engine stand.
“I realised I didn’t need to go to uni to pursue the career I wanted.”
Being part of the team is great as it allows you to play your part and develop your people skills and knowledge further. My proudest moment by far has been successfully passing all the modules required to apply for a CAT A license with the CAA to become a certified engineer. Alongside achieving a Level 3 NVQ in Aviation Maintenance, the apprenticeship with British Airways is brilliant as it has the added incentive of working towards an A License qualification.
I didn’t initially head straight into my apprenticeship. After completing my A Levels, I went to university to study Aerospace Engineering. When I completed my first year and spoke to graduates of my course, I realised I didn’t need to do my degree to pursue the career I wanted. Unfortunately, the narrative that sixth forms push is highly focused on university. Instead, they need to highlight apprenticeships as a feasible path for many. My apprenticeship has been awesome as I work on the job, gaining practical experience I wouldn’t have received if I continued with my degree all whilst getting paid and avoiding student debt! What more could you ask for?
If you’re considering an apprenticeship, first understand what your aspirations in life are prior to narrowing your vision. Speak to people in a range of fields to get an understanding of their personal experience, or even discover the methods in which you learn by completing enneagram tests. Once you understand the path you wish to take, research is key. Make sure you know what an apprenticeship can offer you and the kind of exposure you’ll have through the course. It’s crucial to see the opportunities you could be offered on completion. Ask relevant questions throughout the process to fully understand what you’re applying for.
“As a Black, Muslim Woman, I was slightly apprehensive coming into the role, but I’ve never felt hindered in my job – it’s an advantage!”
Engineering within the aviation industry is heavily male-dominated. As a Black, Muslim Woman, I was ever so slightly apprehensive coming into the role. After two years of working with British Airways, I have never felt hindered whilst doing my job. I see it more as an advantage – the engineers have been really welcoming and more than happy to share their knowledge and expertise with me. I hope to assist in demonstrating to other women, that a career in STEM is a possibility!
The support my instructors from my training provider have given helped significantly while we completed a vast majority of a practical engineering apprenticeship during numerous lockdowns. My managers and assessors were constantly in contact with our cohort throughout, even if it was virtual for the most part! My confidence and communication skills have grown since starting the apprenticeship. Working with engineers of varying ages is interesting as our life experiences completely differ. I’m more willing to approach them with suggestions and ideas for a task, as well as a good old chit-chat! There’s so much to learn so I’m utilising the time I have to work with them.
After completing my apprenticeship, I hope to stay with BA and pursue my CAT B modules to become a Licensed Aircraft Engineer. This will be far more intense than what I experienced in my CAT A, but it will definitely be worth the extra knowledge. Something I’m still undecided of is whether to become a B1 Mechanical Engineer or a B2 Avionics Engineer. I’m sure this is something I can discuss further with my employer as I continue my apprenticeship.
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