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Intern to Industry Expert: Delta Air Lines Aircraft Maintenance Intern Program

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July 10, 2017

Contact us for more information on the Delta Air Lines Aircraft Maintenance Intern Program and South’s Aviation Maintenance Technology program!

SouthProfTech@
seattlecolleges.edu


Or call 206-934-5394.

With over 23,000 commercial airplanes taking off every day in the US, ensuring the timeliness and efficiency of each flight has never been more important or more complicated. Air travelers today expect comfort, safety and reliability; but when planes hit a technical snag, it’s an airline’s team of highly skilled aircraft mechanics that become the deciding factor between a cancelled flight and making it to a destination on time.

“In some ways aviation maintenance is an invisible profession,” says Mike Hagler, South Seattle College Alumnus and Delta Air Lines Internship and Technical Operations Duty Manager. “When I started back in 1990, you needed a lot of experience to enter the industry. Here at Delta we have an ‘open hangar’ policy, and welcome potential aviation maintenance students to come in and get a taste for the gig.”

Exposing students to careers in aviation has become imperative for airlines like Delta as the airline industry faces an aging workforce, now retiring along with thousands of years of collective knowledge and expertise. As a means to generate interest and funnel future maintenance professionals into the industry, South Seattle College and Delta Air Lines began a partnership in November 2013 to establish the Delta Air Lines Aircraft Maintenance Intern Program, providing students a pathway to fulfilling careers in aviation.

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In April 2017, South was also chosen as an approved partner college for Delta Air Lines, one of only 39 partner colleges across the country. Along with recruitment support, Delta will provide continuous improvements to South’s AMT program as technologies evolve.

“This is a very unique internship program, and probably one of the only of its kind in the entire country” says Mike. “It’s a great feeling to bring in a batch of interns for three or four months and let them get a feel for the job. Not only are we providing them a career path, we’re introducing them to a career where they will never stop learning. It’s a fantastic opportunity.”

Based in Delta’s TechOps Station at SeaTac International Airport, interns selected for the Delta Air Lines Aircraft Maintenance Intern Program observe and assist in a live maintenance environment, supervised by experienced mentoring mechanics. Throughout the 12 week (one quarter) program, interns are exposed to all aspects of hangar/line operations. The internship is unique in its volume and variety of work introduced, unheard of for entry level mechanics in the industry.

“Aviation maintenance technicians have an incredibly important and complex job that takes them a long time to become proficient,” says Mike. “Line maintenance is similar to working in a level one trauma center, it’s fast-paced and all-encompassing. Line technicians are working on live flights, many times with passengers waiting inside to depart.”

Andrey Kaduchok, current Delta AMT and South alumnus applied to the Delta internship program in 2013 after a personal tour of the Delta hangar facilities. A native of Lviv, Ukraine, Andrey says his father first sparked his interest in airplanes, but he never had the opportunity to explore careers in the industry before joining Delta as an intern.

“One thing I really enjoyed about being an intern was the exposure to so many different models of planes,” says Andrey. “Here you actually get to see these planes getting fixed, it’s pretty inspiring for someone who is just starting out in the industry. Plus, being an intern definitely increases your chances at getting hired, not only by Delta, but by airlines across the country.”

In contrast to disassembled or reverse manufactured aircrafts, which are assembled over a period of weeks, Delta interns working alongside line technicians learn to think on their feet, understand safety and compliance procedures and become familiar with up to 16 different aircraft models from at least three manufactures spanning 50 years of design architecture.

“As an intern, your crew mentors really try and sharpen your communication skills,” says Andrey, who was hired by Delta in 2015. “One of my first experiences as an intern involved me and another intern changing an aircraft’s tire. We noticed that the valve you inflate the tire with was leaking. We told a manager and eventually had to jack the plane up again to fix it. It was a good feeling leaving that day, it felt like I was really contributing to the work we were doing and a valuable learning experience.”

Andrey represents just one of the 22 South Seattle College interns who have already joined the Delta internship program. Currently, Delta and South’s immersion internship model is being reviewed by airlines across the country, proving that strong collaborations between vocational colleges and airlines is the key to maintaining aviation efficiency and safety essential for our increasingly interconnected world.