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Apprentice to Chief Operations Officer

Category: AirTanker Released: 11 March 2021


This week we celebrate the importance of STEM and hope to raise awareness of the career opportunities available. In this article, we hear from our Chief of Operations, Paul Kimberley, about his career and journey within the aviation industry, from starting as an apprentice to becoming Chief Operations Officer.

Paul started his career in the aviation industry in 1983 as an Apprentice Airframe Fitter with Marshall Aerospace, working predominantly on military aircraft such as the C130 Hercules and Tristar.

My apprenticeship with Marshall Aerospace allowed me to gain the perfect foundation in Engineering and start my career in the aviation industry. Working on military aircraft has been extremely valuable to me, however as I progressed in my career on completion of my apprenticeship, I didn't work on another military aircraft for a further 20 years until I joined AirTanker!

In the late 1980's, Paul joined FLS Aerospace at London Stansted airport as an aircraft mechanic where he gained his Aircraft Maintenance Licences, and progressed through the ranks in the organisation from Licenced Engineer to Supervisor Inspector, then Aircraft Manager to Programme Manager, where he was responsible for the Stansted heavy maintenance operations.

In 1999 I was ready to look for a new challenge and decided to change direction away from heavy maintenance to gain more experience in Line Maintenance, Maintrol and Engineering. I took up the post of Aircraft Maintenance Operations Manager, and during this time established and managed operations in the UK and Scandinavia.

After two years in that post, Paul was appointed as General Manager of easyTech in 2001, a joint venture organisation with easyJet, based at Luton Airport where he was responsible for building up the organisation to deliver maintenance support for a fleet of B737 and A319 which grew from 10 aircraft to 130 aircraft during his tenure. In January 2007, Paul was appointed the position of Vice President, Aircraft Services with SR Technics, where he was responsible for all aircraft maintenance and engineering activities in the UK and Northern Europe.

In February 2009, Paul joined AirTanker as Fleet Engineering Director:

I was interested in the fact the company was a ‘startup’ and I found the prospect of establishing an organisation with a mixed manning environment and aircraft that could move between civil and military registers, really exciting. Although I was enjoying my time in engineering, I was again ready for a new challenge and became the Chief Operations Officer in 2017.

When I look back at my career and where it all started, there is no doubt in my mind of the value my apprenticeship gave me and how important it was for my entry into the industry. I would highly recommend an apprenticeship for anyone who has a passion and wants to progress in a chosen industry!

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