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Spotlight: Rob MacLennan, SNCO Avionic Technician at Royal Air Force


Tell us a fun fact about yourself


I once appeared on children’s TV channel Nickelodeon when I was around 12 years old. They were doing a program based in a village on the shores of Loch Ness, where I used to live, and asked some local school children to appear on the show and play musical instruments. We were on before the Rugrats.


Tell us about your career journey so far


In 2003 I carried out 7 weeks of basic training at RAF Halton before undertaking an 18 month Aeronautical, specifically Avionic, Engineering apprenticeship at the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering (DCAE) Cosford located just outside Birmingham.


After successfully completing this course I was posted to a Naval base in the south west coast of England where I worked on Lynx helicopters for 3 years. Following that I was posted to RAF Kinloss where I worked on the Nimrod Maritime Reconnaissance (MR2) till 2010.


After Kinloss closed as an RAF base I was posted to RAF Lossiemouth where I currently still work. Here I have worked on the Tornado Ground Reconnaissance (GR4) aircraft for 6 years and for the last 4 years on Typhoon Fighter Ground Reconnaissance (FGR4) aircraft.


For all the aircraft I have worked on throughout my career (Lynx helicopter, Nimrod MR2, Tornado & Typhoon) I have had to undertake specific training courses of varying lengths of time that allow me to operate on these different types of aircraft.


What was your favourite subject in school and why?


Maths and PE. I am a keen sportsman so really enjoyed PE especially football and rugby.


What subjects/qualifications are useful in your role?


Engineering, Electronics, Maths, PE, Leadership.


What is your favourite thing about your job?


The variety of the job. No one day is the same. There is a lot of travelling involved in the role, to date I have visited Sweden, Norway, Romania, Hungary, Italy, Cyprus, Germany, Oman, USA and most countries in the middle east.


What is a normal day in your role like?


An Avionic (Avionic is combination of Aviation and Electronic) technician maintains and services an array of electronic equipment used on a wide range of aircraft. This equipment includes RADAR, Communication, Identification, Reconnaissance and electronic Defensive Counter Measures systems.


A ‘normal’ day is to start work in the morning and firstly take a written handover from the back shift regarding the state of the aircraft and what tasks are required to achieve and/or maintain serviceability of a fleet of Typhoon aircraft. I then attend a rectification brief with Squadron management where the priorities for that day are discussed. The aircraft are then prepared to undertake several training sorties throughout the day. I delegate tasks to a team of around 15 technicians of varying levels of experience to carry out the maintenance required on aircraft that are not flying that day. A big part of my role is to ensure training and mentoring of the less experienced members of my team is being carried out and that key progression targets are met at certain stages in their development. When the aircraft land we carry out post flight debriefs with the pilots to ascertain whether any Avionic systems functioned/operated incorrectly, or worst-case scenario haven’t worked at all during flight. After the debriefs we carry out initial investigation on these faults and either carry out remedial rectification if time allows or gather and document all information required to give a comprehensive handover to the oncoming shift.


Suggest an activity that could be done at home that illustrates an aspect of your work?


Theory of flight lessons.

https://www.teachengineering.org/activities/view/cub_airplanes_lesson01_activity1

https://www.teachengineering.org/activities/view/cub_airplanes_lesson06_activity1

https://www.teachengineering.org/activities/view/cub_airplanes_lesson10_activity1

https://www.sciencekids.co.nz/lessonplans/flight/paperairplane.html

https://www.sciencekids.co.nz/lessonplans/flight/helicopter.html

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