Want an aviation career? Take flight with an apprenticeship

Christian Ferrone - Aviation Career in Engineering
Christian Ferrone completed a aeroskills apprenticeship and is now an aircraft maintenance engineer for QantasLink. Image: Department of Training and Workforce Development

Aircraft maintenance engineer Christian Ferrone’s second go at an aviation career is the one that took off!

When Christian found out he was colourblind more than halfway through his flying degree, his lifelong dream of becoming a pilot crash-landed. “I felt pretty disheartened,” he says. Christian worked in construction for a few years, but couldn’t shake his passion for aviation.

He did a pre-apprenticeship course in aircraft mechanics, and has been flying high ever since. Christian is now working as an aircraft maintenance engineer. His achievements were recognised as the Western Australian Apprentice of the Year and an Australian Apprentice of the Year finalist at the Australian Training Awards in 2021.

It took three years to complete the apprenticeship. Now he is working to add ‘licensed’ to his job title and complete the full Diploma. That will mean Christian can not only fix planes, but also sign off that they’re ready to fly again. “There’s a lot to learn at the start – it was overwhelming,” he says. “It’s really fast-paced but, after a while, things start to click between TAFE and work.”

In training, Christian had to complete a logbook of thousands of tasks. Each one had to be done three times. “It’s pretty full-on, but towards the end you find you can tick off multiple tasks during a single job. You realise, ‘Oh yeah, I can do this,’” he says.

During his apprenticeship, Christian worked on private aircraft, including the WA government’s private plane. “Sometimes we’d do heavy maintenance on an aircraft, where you completely rip it apart,” he says. “The seats and floors would come out, everything. I’d think, ‘How is all this going to go back together?’ Then seeing it in the hangar and taking off again is an awesome feeling.”

Christian says, in his job, there are no stupid questions. “In this industry, if you don’t ask questions, serious things can happen, and there’s always something new to learn. You’re never bored.”

Christian’s six-days-on, six-days-off roster gives him plenty of time for volunteering at the restoration team at the Aviation Heritage Museum. “It’s a good place to practise skills!”

Christian’s path into an aviation career

  • Associate Degree in Aeronautics, South Metro TAFE
  • Scheduler, Homestart, A BGC Company
  • Certificate II in Aeroskills (Mechanical), South Metro TAFE
  • Diploma of Aeroskills (Mechanical), Aviation Australia
  • Apprentice Aircraft Maintenance Engineer, Execujet
  • Aircraft Maintenance Engineer, QantasLink

This article originally appears in Careers with STEM: Engineering 2022 in partnership with the National Careers Institute.

Thinking an aviation career, aeroskills or STEM apprenticeship sounds like the perfect pathway for you? Head on over to our vocational education and training hub.

Chloe Walker

Author: Chloe Walker

Chloe is a freelance writer and editor from Melbourne. She loves talking to people about their passions, whether that’s STEM, arts, business, or something else entirely! www.chloe-walker.com

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