Case studies of our past and present apprentices

Katie Lockwood

Prior to applying for the Aeronautical Engineering Apprenticeship with AirTanker, Katie had been studying engineering at Lincoln University Technical College.  

"I was completely sold. The fact that I could study engineering, the impressive equipment and the links with employers was really appealing.  I also liked the fact that I could work with my hands to make things and apply my learning in a practical way.”

Whilst at Lincoln, Katie decided to apply for an engineering apprenticeship with AirTanker, a consortium of the leading aerospace companies delivering the Ministry of Defence contract for RAF Voyager. The application included multiple interviews, aptitude tests and a written exam, following which Katie was one of six young people to be selected from 300 to take up an apprenticeship.

"I'm really proud I managed to secure a place. What helped was the experience I had at Lincoln. I had lots of opportunities to speak to employers and work on projects with them. This made me more confident in the interview.”

“Studying engineering at Lincoln UTC has meant that I can get started in my career two years earlier than if I’d stayed at my previous school. It’s a great step forward and will help me to become a qualified aeronautical engineer much more quickly.”

Since starting AirTanker's apprenticeship scheme, Katie has come a long way and is looking forward to completing her training at Resource Group and starting her placement at AirTanker.

"I have gained a better understanding of the technical workings of the aircraft by working through the individual modules and I feel more confident now that my knowledge is growing. I have really enjoyed meeting and working with the different airlines apprentices as they all give support to get through the course."

"I am really looking forward to starting my placement at AirTanker and gaining even more experience."


6 Months into the Apprenticeship

Bradley Evans

"From the start of the apprenticeship, I have learned how highly regulated the aircraft industry is and how human factors play a key role in what we do."

"My biggest challenge has been coming into this with no aviation background or experience and limited understanding of aircraft systems and having to learn everything from scratch. The workshop has been a nice break from the classroom phase and was good to get some hands on experience to consolidate our knowledge on what we had been learning in the books."

"Working alongside other airlines has been a great experience - I have made a good group of friends which I believe I will stay in contact with after I leave Resource Group."

"Apprenticeships in general are a great way to learn a trade and get paid whilst you learn. AirTanker especially offers a great opportunity to pursue a career in the aviation industry and are very supportive to help you through your initial training."

Further testimonials are shown on our Apprenticeship home page.

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International Women in Engineering Day 2018 Emma's Story

by Sara Chubb | Jun 23, 2018
To mark International Women in Engineering Day on June 23rd, we spoke to Emma Farrell about her role as a Quality, Safety and Assurance Engineer with AirTanker and what inspired her to pursue an engineering career.

Tell us a bit about your role

I work in the Compliance department. Part of our role is to carry out audits to make sure that the business complies with regulations covering Part 145 and Part M. These are the rules that govern how aircraft are maintained and how we ensure they are airworthy. I joined AirTanker in July 2013 working in Tech Records and moved into my current position in April 2014.

When did you first become interested in a career in engineering?

From a very early age! My parents met in the RAF and I have twin brothers who both joined the RAF in different roles. That family connection definitely opened my eyes to the possibilities. I remember being about five years old and attending a graduation event for one of my brothers.

I’m lucky in that I decided early on that I wanted to pursue an engineering career. It gave me a focus when I was studying at secondary school. My maths teacher at the time told me I couldn’t be an engineer because I wasn’t ‘mechanically minded’, but that just spurred me on even more.

What training did you undertake?

I applied for apprenticeships with BA and Virgin Atlantic, but I missed the application deadline. Virgin wrote back to me though with some useful advice on other options. From there I went to college and completed a two-year BTEC course in aeronautical engineering.

That gave me some great hands-on experience and I managed to get a placement with BAE Aviation Services at Filton in Bristol. They offered me an apprenticeship opportunity, which I completed in three years instead of the normal four because of my BTEC qualification.

"At the time women were certainly in the minority. I recall that three girls started the course and I was the only one to finish it. Completing the apprenticeship meant that I gained my B1 licence, which I still maintain today."

Do you sense that attitudes have changed over the years?

Without question. At the start of my career I faced some negative attitudes and I felt that I had to work harder than other people just to prove I could do the job. I learned how to stand up for myself. Today, there is far greater acceptance that women are every bit as capable of being a good engineer. We need to open more girls’ eyes to this fact!

What do you love most about your engineering career?

I think for me, it’s that I’ve achieved the goals that I had from a very early age. I love being hands-on with the aircraft. Seeing it take off and knowing that you have played a part in making sure it is properly maintained and safe to fly is very rewarding.

With regards to my current role, whilst office based I am still involved with the maintenance of the aircraft through audits, our company authorisation process which allows our engineers to issue a certificate of release to service, through to carrying out documentation checks of the aircraft records to ensure continuous airworthiness of the aircraft.

Finally, what advice would you give to girls who are considering a future in engineering?

Follow your heart. If you have the passion and drive, there is no reason whatsoever why you can’t make it happen. STEM subjects like maths and the sciences help, but it’s also about having the right mind-set and being committed to what you want to do. There are different routes available into the industry too. I chose the apprenticeship route, other people I know have studied at A-Level and pursued a degree before becoming engineers.