Aviation Maintenance Career Takes Off at SkyWest Airlines for Austin Moore
Austin Moore was looking to use his almost 9-years of experience from his Aviation Ordinance position in the Navy to better position himself in an aviation mechanic career in civilian life. He was very familiar with aircraft fire power but didn’t have any Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) training, education, or certification. And, as Austin put it, “That’s where the Big Bucks come from.”
Austin could have taken his military aircraft experience directly into contract work, but it would give him a very narrow area of expertise. It was his wife, Mariah, who suggested he go back to school to expand his career potential.
Austin found the specialized training he needed at SJVC’s Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT) program located at the Fresno Yosemite International Airport.
A few months into his training, SkyWest Airlines representatives visited the campus and gave AMT students a chance to take advantage of their AMT Pathway Program’s mentorship and opportunities. Bonus!
What did SkyWest’s Pathway program offer?
They offer up to $4,500 in education assistance, $1,500 moving expense reimbursement and $1,600 in A&P test fee reimbursement with a 3-year commitment to SkyWest (after completing initial employment probation).
SkyWest is a great company to work for.
How did you respond to SkyWest’s AMT Pathway Program presentation?
I signed on right away. SJVC’s Aviation Maintenance Technology program (can be completed in as few as) 17-months and at the end we sit for our A&P license. SkyWest counts this (SJVC) program time, so we qualify for their employee benefits.
What made you pursue a career in aviation maintenance?
In the military I liked working on jets. I dealt mostly with firepower and didn’t really deal with A&P. I wanted to specialize and work on bigger airliners like 737s and air busses. An older gentleman (in the military) told me there wasn’t longevity in what I was doing and that I should check out SJVC’s AMT program. He was a graduate.
What was the best thing for you about SJVC’s Aviation Maintenance Technology program?
Working on the engines. We could break an engine all the way down and rebuild it. You had a partner and we were pretty much on the same page all the way through it. You had to pay close attention when you were breaking it down because, if you did, it was easier to put it back together. We were organized in how we laid our parts out. It took four days, and we got an A on that project.
Did you struggle with any of the coursework?
Learning the physics of flying was all new to me. What makes it fly, how does it actually get up in the air. I was thinking, ‘Wow, this is how that works!’ I left with a 4.0 GPA.
Changing out hydraulic systems took me about 6-7 hours my first time doing it. It would probably take me about 2-hours now.
The teachers were fully supportive of any questions we had. They were knowledgeable and, if they didn’t know something, they would get the answer.
What is your main goal when you work on an aircraft?
It depends on what kind of mechanic you want to be. Do you want to just get the job done or understand why you’re doing what you’re doing to repair it. There’s so much to learn still.
I want that whatever I do, my supervisors won’t have to worry about if the project is going to go bad; that they can look at me and say, ‘I have no worries with him’.
What kind of support did you have while you were in the program?
Mariah was my inspiration to complete the program. She told me that as long as I stick with it, I’ll have a great career. I knew that with this we could build a solid life together. I devoted all my time to school and that made it easier.
I don’t like failure, or even the thought of failure. When I commit to something, I’m just going to get it done – whatever it takes.
What advice would you give to others interested in a career in aviation maintenance?
Some of my classmates had to work and go to class and had struggles with that. My advice to someone in that situation is to tell them, “It’s going to be tough, but stick to it because the outcome is far better than whatever you’re doing now.”
My mother and father (Sharon and Alan) were definitely good to motivate me, too. Their best advice was, “The outcome is way better than the struggle to get there.”
What are your current job responsibilities at SkyWest Airlines?
On a daily basis, it’s whatever a plane needs maintenance wise; whatever pops up on the plane, you have the potential to fix it.
I want to be a Level II soon – it takes 6-8 months to advance to Level II mechanic. It’s more gratifying. And, maybe with enough knowledge, I’ll want to be an instructor and help teach others on the job.
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