When you’re flying hundreds of people to far-flung destinations at 37,000 feet, safety has to be your top priority. But as well as being an essential part of our operations here at Virgin Atlantic, it can also make for an extremely interesting career choice. So much so, that the BBC recently featured two of our team, Matt Watson and Lee Dunmore, as part of their “˜Keeping Britain Safe’ series. The programme explored the role of our mechanical and avionics engineers and the vital part they play in ensuring our fleet is amongst the safest – and most comfortable – in the skies.
Both Matt and Lee studied engineering at Brunel College and the University of the West of England in Bristol. For Matt, this was a natural progression after getting his A-levels in Maths, Physics and Design Technology. Lee arrived via an eight-year career with the Royal Navy. His Air Engineering Apprenticeship was the ideal preparation for his future career as it enabled him to cover several areas of avionics engineering, as well as radar and radio.
After self-funding a 2½-year course to gain his CAA B1 license, Matt was able to travel all over Europe, accumulating the experience and exposure he needed to make him a sought-after engineer, initially joining Virgin Atlantic as a contractor but jumping at the chance to take on a permanent role. Both Matt and Lee have now been with the business for over seven years
The Virgin Atlantic brand was obviously a big draw. Matt, in particular, was keen to emphasise that everything he’d heard about the business was positive:
“Engineering can be a fairly small world. So word gets around about different employers,” he said. “The work environment here would be tough to beat – and the benefits are pretty much the best in the industry too.”
The variety of the work also played a big part in Matt’s decision to join:
“We get to work on everything from 747s to A320s. Each plane brings its own challenges. In addition to the standard checks and procedures we have to follow, there are always new issues to think about, so there’s enormous scope to learn and develop. Planes come in for a check every 1000 flying hours and can stay with the team for up to 90 hours to ensure it is safe to be back out in the skies. Checks can range from simple things, like brakes and tyres, to more complex procedures, like complete engine changes. There’s also a dedicated cabin team who inspect and check the cabin to make sure that the passenger experience is comfortable and consistent each time.”
As you’d expect from one of the world’s leading airlines, equipment at Virgin Atlantic is cutting edge. Both Lee and Matt have been impressed by the great crew room and the extent to which they’re looked after.
“There are great benefits here. The free flights are a major bonus – particularly if you’re a keen traveller.”
The fluidity of the role is another big selling point for Matt:
“There’s a great deal of opportunity to move around the company and a background in engineering has the potential to open doors to opportunities in quality, development and management roles,” he said.
“The training and development Virgin Atlantic offers is another big enabler with job mobility. There’s a dedicated engineering training school. Those who join as apprentices will enjoy between two and three years investment in their futures here. There is also support to take ad hoc exams and the opportunity for qualified engineers to add more aircraft to their licence.”
If you’re interested in finding out more about becoming a mechanical or avionics engineer at Virgin Atlantic, visit our careers website .