Learn About Manufacturing Pathways: Aircraft Testing and Maintenance

Boeing Workforce Development hosted several virtual “Manufacturing Lunch and Learns” this fall for students and instructors at all partner programs, including Core Plus Aerospace. We got a chance to sit in and are excited some notes from the series!

During a recent session about careers in Aircraft Testing and Maintenance, students heard from four manufacturing professionals at various stages of their careers who shared insights on multiple education and career pathways that can lead to success.

Tom Meier began his career at Boeing 34 years ago in the Fabrication Division. He obtained the certificate needed to become an Aviation Maintenance Technician, an Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) license, in 2006. Currently, he is a General Manager for NW Flight Test Maintenance Operations.

Jennifer Paige became interested in aviation at a young age. Paige attended the Aviation Maintenance Technology program at Spokane Community College, where she learned about aircraft repair, time management, and teamwork. After graduating, Paige began working at Boeing as a functional test mechanic and is now an Engine Functional Test Manager (767 Final Assembly).

William Rhodes served in the U.S. Navy, acquired an A&P license, and worked in general/corporate aviation. Rhodes began his career at Boeing on the 787 flight line, then became a New Hire Instructor. He also completed an apprenticeship program.

Heather Ross graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Science from the College of Engineering, Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics. After working as a flight test engineer at Boeing, Ross joined the Air Force, then worked as a pilot for four years at United Airlines. Ross then returned to Boeing as a Production Flight Test Pilot.

What skills are necessary for success in aircraft testing and maintenance?

Panelists emphasized the importance of aircraft systems integration knowledge, as well as print reading and electrical troubleshooting skills. Panelists also discussed the critical importance of communication, listening, collaboration and a willingness to take on new tasks and assignments.

What is some advice for building and navigating this career pathway?

Heather Ross talked about navigating her career through several different contexts including the military, commercial aviation and manufacturing. She discussed the value of being thoughtful about taking specific roles to build specific skills and experience.

Jennifer Paige was excited to share about studying at Spokane Community College and how it set her up for success in functional test at Boeing.

Rhodes’ career advice for students including not only looking for a mentor but also being a mentor to others.