Air Georgian Maintenance Crew Chief, Antonio Efstathiou doing what he does best.
Sure it’s an occupation that requires a high degree of responsibility and skill, but for Air Georgian Maintenance Crew Chief, Antonio Efstathiou, it’s all part of the gig. Some would say that he could do the job with his eyes closed, but that would defy safety protocols. However, he lives and breathes his role, knows the ins and outs, and has been enjoying it for the last 10 years.
From a very young age, Antonio was playing with model airplanes. Whether it was admiring the handy work of each plane while sitting on the living room floor, or flying them around the house, he was fated to employ his hands and intelligence in aircraft maintenance. After a visit and tour, here’s what he had to say about aircraft maintenance and his days spent with Air Georgian:
Can you briefly describe what you do in your role?
In all of my planning, coordinating and executing of daily work, I ensure that Air Georgian’s safety standards are met. I am accountable to the production plan and assist in its development, while assigning and directing the work of maintenance personnel. I resolve material, tooling and engineering issues, while ensuring airworthiness by adhering to all safety policies, processes and reporting methods.
I also exercise ownership of my area, by providing leadership, coaching, training, direction and support to all maintenance personnel that reports to me. I am responsible for the completion of aircraft and maintenance records and providing adequate hand-off information for a smooth transition between shifts. The most quintessential, I have to certify a safe and tidy workplace at all times – this is of utmost importance to the well being of my crew. A healthy crew means a healthy plane.
What kind of education is required for a role in aircraft maintenance? Do you have to be an engineer?
You should have two years of college with an optional year of avionics if you chose to go that route. You do not have to be an aircraft maintenance engineer, but that restricts you from being able to release and sign off your own work, and relinquishing aircrafts from defects or their final inspections.
How important is aircraft maintenance for Air Georgian?
Air Georgian has an excellent understanding of aircraft maintenance and allows the proper time to complete certain inspections and tasks as required. With more planes in the air and more travel time spent in the air, safety is more important than ever. Air safety has had a profound effect since the very beginning of flight. Today’s technologies and the many complicated systems demand a detail-oriented approach.
Do you play a role in airplane safety?
I think everyone in each department has an important role to play when it comes to aircraft safety. Making sure everything is operating properly, and checking completed work before releasing an aircraft is essential. From a safe work environment, to using proper tools, stands, equipment, proper securing of components and panels, looking for fuel, oil and hydraulic leaks, and constantly following procedures and ensuring preventative maintenance is carried out, it all plays an integral role in safety.
Safety comes first at all times. Aircrafts that come out of maintenance are not usually flight-tested. Passengers are immediately taken on board for flight travels. This means that our work must be impeccable. The most important jobs are double-checked and then checked again. When a technician completes the maintenance of a plane, an engineer who did not participate in the process follows it up. Therefore, final approval is made independently and nothing is overlooked. I also have to wear, at all times, a safety vest, safety boots and all PPE such as safety glasses and earplugs.
As an aircraft maintenance person, what does Air Georgian expect from you and what do your clients expect from you?
Air Georgian expects us to fulfill all the safety initiatives and protocols for overall maintenance operations. We are also mandated to conduct rigorous quality checks, provide excellent customer service and must always demonstrate teamwork.
There are some changes taking place at Air Georgian when it comes to airplane maintenance? What are they, and what do they mean for the company and its clients?
Air Georgian has been around for many years, and is known for flawless aircraft maintenance safety reviews and reliability. One addition is to have a ramp crew present at the terminal at all times during arrivals and departures – maintaining and inspecting the aircraft every time it returns. Which helps to address any issues when the aircraft arrives to the gate. Should more time be needed to address a problem, the aircraft will be delayed in order to complete work safely. We also take care of business jets for owners, which we have a charter maintenance crew to focus on that side of the business. In my mind, being responsible for the proper maintenance of more planes, demonstrates to clients that we care for their safety.
Are there industry standards that you have to abide by when it comes to maintaining planes?
We follow maintenance schedules provided by the aircraft manufacturer, and there are certain tasks that need to be completed depending on how many hours the aircraft has flown. These factors determine which airplanes are down for longer periods of time to complete such tasks. We also conduct regular reviews of safety by monitoring the aviation industry’s performance as a whole and identifying safety trends and risks. Lastly, we are in constant communication with all people, organizations and government bodies that play a role in aviation safety.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy everything about my role at Air Georgian. From the onset of my morning and throughout my entire shift, I am excited to see what the day will bring. It is never the same, when it comes to recognizing an aircraft issue that needs fixing. I also enjoy being around all my co-workers. Everyone that I work with has a positive attitude and we all strive to achieve the same results.
What kind of planes/jets do you work on?
I work on all the aircrafts that Air Georgian maintains. The CRJ-100, Caravan 208B, King Air C90, 350, Premier I, Learjet, Citation 500 series, Bravo and Ultra, Beech 1900D-1900C, Hawker 800, Citation 680 Sovereign, any type of airplanes really. When I was at Air Canada, I worked on planes such as the Boeing 767, 777, Airbus 319, 320, 321, and Embraer 175, 190.
Are there a lot of women who work in aircraft maintenance?
We have had women work as aircraft engineers in the past, and I know a few that are still in the industry at other companies.
There are always new planes coming to market, how do you keep up from a maintenance perspective?
Well, generally we can work on any type of aircraft. But in order to release an aircraft you need to have the appropriate M1 or M2 license, and the aircraft type course completed with an approved training facility that gives you knowledge of the aircraft systems etc… courses can be anywhere from two to six weeks.
Describe a routine check-up on an aircraft from a maintenance standpoint.
A routine check-up consists of checking engine oils, all main wheels for correct inflation, wears and tears. Brakes being in limits, walking around the aircraft to check for any dents or surface damages, checking for leaks of any sort, such as engine oil, hydraulics, fuel leaks. Checking all interior and exterior lighting, emergency equipment on board for expiry dates, oxygen for the correct amount and making sure everything is serviced.
Is there anything that you must avoid doing when on the job or when maintaining a plane?
Avoid memorizing a routine check and always have the paper work with you to ensure nothing is missed. Also avoid turning on the heat and lights, or moving any flight controls because there may be someone near the controls that could be injured. Always check, and be in the clear of anyone before operating the systems.
Do you think there’s shortage of people choosing aircraft maintenance as a career option?
There seems to be a shortage of people choosing aircraft maintenance. There is a demand for technicians, but the pool is small. When working in aviation maintenance you are liable for the work that is done and for anything that could happen while the plane is in flight. It’s all about safety, safety, safety at all times.
Explain the most exciting thing that has happened to you, while on the job.
There was an aircraft grounded for few days before Christmas, due to a system malfunction. All the passengers were really upset that they wouldn’t make it to their destination. We eventually identified the problem and fixed it. All the passengers thanked me, and were grateful that they were now able to get home for the holidays. We felt appreciated. It goes to show that passengers truly depend on us for their safe travels.
What are your work hours like?
We work 4 days on and 4 days off at 12 hours a day. We also have some maintenance personnel on a Monday to Friday shifts, during the day for A B C checks (heavy maintenance).
What do you do when you’re not servicing planes?
When aircrafts are not being serviced, we usually clean the hangar, fuel our maintenance trucks, maintain and clean. Also, we check if parts need to be ordered to complete any upcoming tasks that are scheduled.
What kind of social/personal life do you have with this type of job?
I love maintaining planes. People outside of work are interested in what I do, and always ask me questions. They seem to be amazed by all the systems and how large aircrafts can actually get off the ground. They also want to know what it takes to maintain them. When I’m not at work, I like to hang out with a few good friends and family. I have a brother in aviation and one sister that also likes to be around airplanes. She comes into my work for an occasional airplane tour. I also love riding motorcycles.
What kind of advice do you have for someone who wants to maintain planes?
You must have a passion for this type of work and a positive attitude. That will definitely get you far. You must also respect safety standards and be meticulous in all your actions.
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
GO TEAM GGN!!! GGN FOR LIFE!!! LOVE YOU ALL AND KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK