Experience Direct Maintenance: interview with intern Max Didden

This month, we have interviewed a Direct Maintenance intern from Maastricht station – Max Didden. Max shares his first impressions about the company and memorable experiences from the internship at Direct Maintenance.

How did you end up at Direct Maintenance for your internship?

First, I applied for an internship at Direct Maintenance in Dusseldorf. Unfortunately, at that station, there were no open positions for an internship. However, because of the showed interest in working at Direct Maintenance, I was sent to Cologne station. Still, as the station just recently opened, it was impossible to start there. Luckily, after being forwarded to Maastricht station, I was hired for the internship at Direct Maintenance.  

What do you think of the way you are supervised as an intern at Direct Maintenance?

It is my first internship. Thus, like all beginners in the industry, at first, I spent much more time observing than actually doing something in practice. However, the more days have passed, the more my knowledge and understanding developed. Consequently, now, I get to do more practical tasks. I am very thankful for my colleagues, as they constantly explain aircraft features and systems or how to perform a specific task correctly – they ensure my improvement!

What do you hope to learn from your internship?

My primary intention for this internship was to see how line maintenance differs from base maintenance. At the moment, I think line maintenance bring more challenges due to the broad work scope. Nevertheless, I hope to combine the theory from the university with practice at Direct Maintenance and successfully learn as much as possible about aircraft systems.

What is your impression of DirectMaintenance as an employer?

My first impression was that Direct Maintenance is an exciting company with many stations worldwide and a great place to work. To this day, I can say that it is true. Indeed, you can continue to learn at Direct Maintenance: there are many career opportunities, such as getting your license for a particular aircraft type.  

What was the most memorable thing you experienced during your internship?

In the short four weeks that I have been at Direct Maintenance, there was a lightning strike in one of the engines. I had never seen actual damage from a lightning strike, so I truly gained a new memorable experience. We searched for the impact point of the lightning strike because the output of the lightning was clearly visible.

What tip can you give to other interns at Direct Maintenance?

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, ASK THEM. An internship is meant for learning. Thus, if you don’t understand something or want to get an explanation of the aircraft system, just ask. Even if the question is to show/explain the theory you learned at university (as they often lack the needed facilities to demonstrate aircraft systems in real life), I think your colleagues will be glad to help.

Meet the Team: Iwan IJsbrandij

Meet the team! Iwan IJsbrandij, Quality Assurance Engineer at Direct Maintenance, has been passionate about aviation since his childhood – and he’s more than happy now to be working in the industry and taking on the role which allows him to contribute to aviation safety.
Get to know him better as he shares a few insights about his experience with us – and his other passions besides aviation!

Why did you choose aviation as your career path? And how did you start working at Direct Maintenance?
Since my father also has a passion for aviation, I’ve been fascinated by aviation for as long as I can remember. I chose to go for a bachelor’s degree in aviation to turn my passion into a career, and thereafter I was soon invited to join Direct Maintenance in its Quality Assurance (QA) department.

What are your main responsibilities in your role? What do you like the most in your work?
As a Quality Assurance Engineer, my main responsibility is to enable the organisation to ensure that we can deliver a safe product and to remain in compliance with the requirements of continuing airworthiness regulations. Some tasks include being involved in audits, verifying procedures and staff records, and translating legislation into practical guidelines for all staff. Additionally, I’m always on standby to investigate occurrences and incidents. The QA team currently consists of my manager Robert whom I really enjoy working with and me. What I like the most in my work is the fact that it’s both aviation and law-related, conducting investigations, and being able to contribute to aviation safety.

What would you say are the biggest challenges in your work?
In general, the nature of quality management systems are highly structured, and due to constant changes to the organisation, regulations, and policies, it tends to result in bureaucracy sometimes. Dealing with bureaucracy can be challenging, especially when you need to justify it to others. However, it’s part of the job, and it also directly contributes to the excellent aviation safety results of the last 15 years.

Can you share your best memory from working in aviation / in Direct Maintenance?
During one of my station visits, ground engineers took me with him to attend an engine ground run. That was indeed a nice experience for me, which stayed in my memory!

Besides aviation, what are your other passions? What are your hobbies, special interests?
Besides aviation, another huge passion of mine is playing guitar and music. I’ve been playing the guitar since my early teens, and it sort of became my second nature. I also play in a rock band and compose my own music. Some of my other interests are reading, history, and spending time in nature.

What is your favourite destination to travel to?
My favourite destination is, without any doubt, Norway. I’m a big fan of Norway’s beautiful, impressive nature and its Viking history.

Do you have a favourite motto or quote that you apply in your life?
Quality Assurance involves many stakeholders, and they often seem to have competing interests. I learned you can’t always make decisions in everyone’s favour, so I like this quote from Aristotle: “A friend to all is a friend to none”.

Expanding partnerships: Direct Maintenance providing line maintenance services for China Southern Airlines in Africa

Direct Maintenance, a certified line maintenance service provider, part of Magnetic MRO, announced the recent expansion of their partnership agreement with China Southern Airlines, one of Asia’s leading airlines and taking over full technical handling of the operator’s fleet line maintenance services in Nairobi, Kenya.

„This is the first time a Chinese aircraft has been fully handled by an authorized third-party line maintenance provider in Africa, “ said Jacco Klerk, Managing Director at Direct Maintenance, about a true joint landmark achievement.

Since 2015 Direct Maintenance has provided line maintenance technical support and related logistics services for A330 on the Changsha-Nairobi route for China Southern Airlines.

„Direct Maintenance has won a spontaneous recognition from China Southern’s team and their supervisors, by efficient and high-calibre line maintenance services, its rapid and independent emergency response mechanism, and customized exclusive service plans as well, which laid a solid foundation for the strengthened cooperation between China Southern Airlines and Direct Maintenance,“ expressed Alfred Wang, Customer Service Manager at Direct Maintenance.

According to Wang, Direct Maintenance is the only line maintenance provider holding FAA Repair Station approval in Kenya and various other African countries, also was the first ever to support B787 line maintenance in Kenya.

„I am very pleased with the recent extension of the partnership with China Southern as it is a great indicator of the mutual trust between two companies which has been developing ever since our cooperation in Nairobi started in 2015. It is also an important milestone for both our team in NBO as well as to the whole company, and we are excited to start this new chapter,“ shared Mandeep Rana, Head of Sales at Direct Maintenance.

Direct Maintenance covers over 70 aircraft and engine combinations, including A320NEO, A350-900/1000, A380, B737 MAX, B747-8 and B787 in over 20 different locations in Europe and Africa.

Continuing with the growth during the uncertain times

The COVID-19 pandemic brought unseen challenges to the aviation industry. However, the Direct Maintenance team tackled the risen difficulties as true experts of the field. During the pandemic, Direct Maintenance not only started to provide new services but even opened new Line Maintenance Stations and signed numerous significant service agreements. Curious about this success, we interviewed Mandeep Rana, the head of Sales at Direct Maintenance, to discover the insights of dealing with challenges efficiently and developing new partnerships during these uncertain times.

As the past year has been challenging for virtually all companies within the aviation industry, can you share what you’d see as the main challenges of the past year? How did you and your team cope with these challenges? 

The main challenge was the significant drop in flights in early March 2020. At the sales department, we prioritized searching for alternative revenue streams – and, as there were still some repatriation and cargo flights, we started serving these types of airlines. We supported many ‘’unusual’’ airlines and/or aircraft types operating into the DMX stations, which was actually a challenge but having various well multi-licensed engineers at our stations, we could accommodate these customers easily. Simultaneously, most Airlines were parking their whole fleet, we successfully helped airlines and leasing companies in this process, even though it was a first-time experience for us.

What are the main trends in customer’s requirements influenced by the pandemic? Which of these trends are here to stay?

The pandemic caused three main trends. The first one is parking maintenance, which occurred because of an insufficient number of passenger flights. The trend should largely vanish when people start travelling again as pre-COVID-19. Also, the most uneconomic passenger aircraft will gradually be taken out of service because the newer generation aircraft allow better fuel efficiency and other environmental benefits. We can see that older aircraft models like B747, B767, B737 are being phased out, while newer models A320Neo, B737MAX, A350, B787 have been utilized efficiently during the crisis for repatriation flights or even cargo flights. Secondly, airlines increasingly outsource their maintenance activities to third parties and prioritize flexible and agile support from MRO rather than low prices. But also ensure growth and focus of their core business. Lastly, disinfection of the interior of the cabin services occurred to ensure the virus particles were removed from the aircraft and sanitation of the interior. These last two trends should remain.

What would find to be the key elements in successful partnerships between clients and service providers?

There are many key elements involved from which respect and acceptance of differences, followed by trust, transparency, communication, proactiveness, and collective commitment to resolve the issues and reach a mutual agreement are a few examples. 

What, in your experience, are the key drivers of success stories: what actions and qualities lead to new contracts and growth?

To begin with, constant engagement with customers is essential: attention and communication create a bond that results in business. Being realistic and honest is also crucial because transparency ensures mutual commitment. In addition, showing our unique characteristics instead of pulling competitors down is mandatory. 

Our way of dealing with customers brought new contracts and contract extensions for the company. A recent example is, after providing many years of high-quality Line Maintenance Services at Dublin, and investment in the relationship, the operator, who would typically sign up with another company, selected Direct Maintenance as their preferred provider for Amsterdam.

What are the future plans for the company in terms of expansion, new stations, new clients, etc.?

We are currently working on the one-line maintenance project: all Magnetic MRO stations will be rebranded to Direct Maintenance, adding locations to the network. We are also communicating with new and existing customers at the moment for some new exciting projects, so stay tuned for news to come!

Do you have your predictions for the aviation industry’s recovery? How long would it take to reach pre-pandemic levels?

I hope that in 2021 flights come back with 70% of the 2019 volume. In 2022, flights should return even more: people couldn’t travel abroad for more than a year and a half because of the pandemic. Thus, now it is time to fly again! 

One Line Maintenance: Direct Maintenance and Magnetic MRO integrate their capabilities

Magnetic MRO, a Total Technical Care and Asset Management organization, has announced that it has integrated its line maintenance capabilities with Direct Maintenance, a certified line maintenance service provider, part of Magnetic MRO.

In January 2021, Magnetic MRO started the movement of its Tallinn based line maintenance, together with respective outstations, under Direct Maintenance. 

„We see strong demand and interest from the market that airlines are pivoting to independent line-maintenance providers offering a more comprehensive range of solutions across a strategic network of stations. While pricing remains an important element, solution when needed, where needed in this recovery enviroment is observed as a key element – a perfect match with the DNA of Direct Maintenance.  

Our divisions have combined a solid reputation in the market ranging from regional- to narrow- and wide-body aircraft line-maintenance, including home-based and heavy line-maintenance with a wide range of services for AOG, ad-hoc, modifications, parking/storage and lease transitions. By aligning these excellent capabilities for our customers, we provide a wealth of services to the industry with a single buy-in. We are on the move to becoming a preferred customer choice as a leading independent line maintenance organization enhanced by passioned and motivated team,“ shared Jacco Klerk, CEO at Direct Maintenance.

After the integration, the group’s line maintenance capabilities extends to providing services in 20+ stations globally, it covers an impressive 70+ aircraft and engine combinations, including A320NEO, A350-900/1000, A380. B787, B747-8, as well as progress into new generation of aircraft, covering Airbus A330NEO and Boeing B777-X, and gearing up for further expansion on stations internationally. 

„The succeses of our joint teams in the past period, speak dividend in our approach of “we can, we do and we care” towards our clients, maintained aircraft and our valued personnel. I can not credit enough our people for their dedication and elements of fun we have to underline our ambition and passion.

Although it just started, we already see some promising initial results and are looking forward to completing the integration and transition in 2022. Together with the integration, we have strengthened and expanded our station capabilities and our commercial and operations zorganization to drive our business success forward,“ added Mr Klerk.

Risto MäeotsCEO at Magnetic MRO, also shared „We noticed that an airline is often stranded with numerous service providers, each with its own ‘handwriting’. And we had to admit that market was offering what is convenient for service providers, not what customers actually need. From consolidating our existing line maintenance under one leadership to the future global growth in network, we will absolutely praise the challenge to be pioneer and to offer comfort in every aspect – thus we praise this next step we are taking togeher with Direct Maintenance“.

On with the growth: Direct Maintenance opens new line maintenance station in Cologne-Bonn Airport

Direct Maintenance, a certified line maintenance service provider, part of Magnetic MRO, announced the recent opening of their latest line maintenance station in Cologne-Bonn Airport (Germany). The new station began its operation on 1st of July, 2021.

The recently opened line maintenance station, which is 4th Direct Maintenance station in Germany alongside stations in Dusseldorf (DUS), Berlin (BER) and Hamburg (HAM) Airport, will be covering line maintenance services for B747, B757, B767 and MD-11 type aircraft, including bespoke home-base line maintenance concept in supporting a logistic turnkey fleet operation. In the coming period Direct Maintenance will also provide In CGN line maintenance for the wide range of Airbus (A320/A330/A350/A380), Boeing (737/B787) and Embraer (Embraer 170/190) aircraft types.

„The recent launch of the new station in Cologne-Bonn Airport is indeed a great milestone for us – especially during turbulent times. Our approach hasn’t change during the pandemic, as always we try to partner up for the long-term and to invest in the customers’ needs – and we continue looking into the new expansion opportunities,“ shared Mandeep Rana, Head of Sales at Direct Maintenance.

Together with Magnetic MRO Line Maintenance, Direct Maintenance now covers over 70 aircraft and engine combinations, including A320NEO, A350-900/1000, A380, B737 MAX, B747-8 and B787 in 17 different locations in Europe and Africa.

Meet the Team: Alfred Wang

Alfred Wang, Customer Service Manager for China, is a team player with a flair for culture and communication – and he’s always here to take the extra steps to improve the understanding between colleagues here. Also, he’s avidly discovering different cultures – and has many stories to tell from his career in aviation and beyond. Get to know Alfred better and check out his interview!

Why did you choose aviation as your career path? And how did you start working at Direct Maintenance?   

Alfred Wang: I graduated from the Civil Aviation University of China with, major in Aircraft Material Sciences, and my aviation career started with me working as an Aircraft Structure Engineer in China Eastern Airlines. I thought being an aircraft engineer is one of the coolest careers in the world, which makes my family – and myself – so proud!

After being an MCC engineer for 5 years, I was transferred to the aircraft leasing department where I worked as a project manager:  this experience of another 5 years in the leasing industry has opened my eyes and mind much wider as I had a chance to meet and work with so many excellent domestic as well as international leasing teams from all over the world. During this time, I have received an offer to join the Direct Maintenance team – and have been part of it ever since!

What are your main responsibilities in your role? What do you like the most in your work? 

AW: I joined Direct Maintenance in 2019 as a management team member, and my main responsibility is to maintain Direct Maintenance, Magnetic MRO and Hangxin synergy. In addition, I also work with the sales team here at Direct Maintenance and explore more business potentials from all Chinese carriers. I think what I most enjoy from my work is that I always feel excited working with the fantastic international teams with so many different cultural backgrounds, learning from them and sharing with each other all interesting stuff – and, of course, the work itself is interesting as well!

What would you say are the biggest challenges in your work? 

AW: Making teammates understand each other better is the biggest challenge: the cultural diversities in the Direct Maintenance family is intriguing! It sometimes causes some misunderstandings – but avoiding being my-culture-centred I love to put myself in other’s positions and think from different angles – and this helps to improve the preciseness and efficiency of communication!

Can you share your best memory from working in aviation or in Direct Maintenance?

AW: The Chinese New Year of the Ox was celebrated in the Netherlands – it is the most important festival for every Chinese, however, due to the travelling restriction I could not fly back to China for the reunion with my parents. I felt so heart-warmed when I received so many blessings from so many Direct Maintenance people on Chinese New Year eve – at that moment, I felt like I was the happiest man in the world. 

Besides the aviation, what are your other passions? What are your hobbies, special interests? 

AW: For me, it’s writing. I can always find joy, harmony and peace inside of me through writing.

Besides this, I also enjoy reading and learning new skills – and don’t miss out on gym sessions!

What is your favorite destination to travel to?

AW: Honestly – all! I would very like to travel to all European countries, meet different people and experience different cultures.

Do you have a favorite motto or quote that you apply in your life?

AW: “If I am unable to lengthen my lifetime, then widen it.” This is a particularly good quote for me as I don’t want a life I spend just sitting in our place – and I think this is also the reason why I left China and came to the Netherlands.

Meet the Team: Eddah Waweru

Get to our team better!

This time, Eddah Waweru, aircraft mechanic working at Direct Maintenance station in Mombasa, shares her experience about working with us (and not only!). Eddah believes that no profession is gender-specific thus in aviation and all other industries both male and female can thrive and reach for their dreams. And that’s what she is doing – enjoying every moment of the path she has chosen, led by curiosity!

Why did you choose aviation as your career path?

Eddah Waweru: Curiosity! When I was in middle school, I attended a school that was located not too close to the airport, but you could see and hear aircraft flying over. That always raised so many questions for me: what makes it possible for that big thing to fly, from land to air and stay afloat with no support? Why the bird-like shape? What are they made of? How do people survive in it? I needed answers to satisfy my curiosity (and this curious cat is still alive) – and that is why aviation had to be the path for me.

How did you start working at Direct Maintenance?

EW: I started working at Direct Maintenance in Nairobi station as an intern in 2015. Due to the local authority regulations, you were allowed to work as an intern for a period of six months unless the company chooses to extend your pass. Fortunately for me, Direct Maintenance extended my pass for a few additional months after which I left the company to continue my studies. 

However, I still kept in contact with the Direct Maintenance family as they contributed greatly to who I am today. And a while ago, the company had an opening and I was lucky to be invited back – this time around as an aircraft mechanic in Mombasa station. Now we are here, keeping safe and growing strong together.

What are the main responsibilities in your role?

EW: My role as an aircraft mechanic is to enhance safety in the aviation industry by maintaining standards of the highest level in aircraft maintenance and servicing. My key duties are to perform line maintenance tasks, that is transit/preflight checks for contracted airlines including daily and weekly checks that are within the limits of the tasks specified in the aircraft maintenance program and to ensure all tasks are done in compliance with company policies, CAA regulations and customer requirements. Line maintenance tasks entail scheduled unscheduled maintenance, routine aircraft structure, power plant and mechanical and electrical systems inspection checks to prove their serviceability, routine aircraft lubrication, replenishment of all system fluids (water/oil/gases) as well as refuelling. Also, it contains basic avionics fault diagnosis and replacement, removal and installation of various aircraft system components in accordance with the applicable manuals – and much more!

What do you like the most in your work?

EW: That it is a hands-on type of work. You get involved actively and personally, mostly by use of hands in doing several maintenance tasks and adequately learning a new skill or procedures during this process. Every day is a good learning experience that allows you to acquire, grow and build on your abilities as well as on your character while faced with daily challenges. 

I also like learning at work as it helps me to get better and better: I have recently acquired my EASA Part 66 License and looking forward to the qualification privileges that come with the certificate authorization. It is just but the beginning of the best that is yet to come.

What would you say are the biggest challenges in your work?

EW:  Time. When it comes to line maintenance, time is of the essence. All maintenance procedures should be over and done within the specified period of time – aircraft ground time. One needs to be very proactive, vigilant and fast while performing various maintenance procedures to avoid delays at any cost. A delay due to maintenance means a delay in flight departure.  Maintenance delays mostly happen when the aircraft has a snag, and the procedure requires more ground time or when the engineer declares the aircraft is unfit to fly.

Weather also can play a big role: it’s an external factor that we have no control over and work still needs to be done. We operate and perform tasks on the apron where the aircraft is parked, meaning you work out in the open –  on rainy days it can be very chaotic and unpleasant. You need to be extremely careful while working in such an environment in order to avoid accidents and hazards both to yourself and the aircraft.

Additionally, at work, we need various types of equipment to facilitate different type of tasks and assist in accessing different zones of different aircraft types. For example, lack of the correct towing bar for a specified type of aircraft means no towing until the right equipment is made available – and this is where delay can occur.

We face many challenges in my line of work but the goal is to overcome them and successfully perform your tasks – each day!

Can you share your best memory from working in aviation/ in Direct maintenance?

EW: Back in 2015, when I was working as an intern, one engineer made all of the freshers bring along a notebook and pen while on his shift and working on the aircraft. You would never imagine leaving school for another school back at work. It was always class-time with him – he once made us draw an aircraft and name all the parts. I used to look forward to his shifts as it was always an interactive and fun session. It might look weird, but it actually was a great take on teaching for accountability and learning purposes and that facilitated who I am today. I cherish such a memory because it built a character and habit in me. You will never miss seeing me with a notebook and pen!

Besides the aviation, what are your other passions?

EW: Social work and community development – especially working with children and families as a non-formal volunteer. Through volunteering one can gain new skills, broaden your own skills, develop new interests and become more involved with the community. I love giving back to the community – especially my time. You are blessed to be a blesser. I feel like our purpose is to put a smile – it is also the best makeup – on someone’s face and let love lead in everything you do. “I am because you are, and you are because I am”.

I also really enjoy farming! I started small scale poultry farming with a few chickens in the countryside now when the pandemic hit – it’s challenging but I am excited and hopeful!

What other hobbies you have?

EW:  Swimming, dancing and working out to maintain a healthy lifestyle – as the saying goes, health the new wealth. 

I have special interests in acquiring more knowledge in handling maintenance of various types of aircraft, especially the A320 and B787; enhancing my knowledge about the aviation industry in general. I also like mat knitting and I am a bit motorsports fan, including Formula 1!

What are your favorite destinations to travel to?

EW: Take me to Tanzania – their beaches are wonderful and the people very polite. Or Nigeria – their culture is very unique and profound. Also, Las Vegas – a city that knows no night or day and almost everyone is a tourist. That’s the best part!

Do you have a favorite motto or quote that you apply in your life?

EW: I have many that I meditate on and affirm myself with depending on the circumstances – but this one stands out for me: “Better is not good enough, the best is yet to come”.

Meet The Team: Mutta Yildirim

Mutta Yildirim, Sales and Marketing Support Officer here at Direct Maintenance joined us just a few months ago – but it has already been an interesting ride for him! Get to know him better!

Let’s take-off with a traditional question: what was the path that led you to aviation industry?

Mutta Yildirim: After graduation with my bachelor degree in business administration in 2016, I jumped into this industry – I think was fascinating from the start, but became even more special throughout these years, so I think I’ll stay in this industry for a long time!

Why did you choose to join Direct Maintenance?

MY: Because I am ready for new challenges! One of the main reasons for me joining this team was the plans of the board to grow and expand as a company and that’s a challenge I want to be part of. Also, I like to work in an international environment with people from different countries, and gladly I have this opportunity to work with colleagues from all over the world.

 Also, I want to develop myself, keep growing – and also be of help to the team. And I think I can achieve that being part of Direct Maintenance.

What would you consider to be the main challenges at work – and industry?

MY: Currently, there are a lot of movements going on in the aviation industry, and I think this is a time to be flexible and agile as a company to establish in tomorrow’s world. Yes, the situation itself because of the pandemic and uncertainty it brings is challenging for companies and for the industry – but then there are also plenty of opportunities for us to innovate and look for the best solutions together.

Let‘s move away from work – share your hobbies and other interests, besides aviation!

MY: I enjoy playing and watching football – in my free time I never skip a game of my 2 favourite football clubs Ajax and Besiktas. Also, I love to sail in the canals of Amsterdam and have recently got my first boat!

At the weekends and nights, I spend a lot of time in my small e-commerce business that I own since the beginning of the pandemic. I can proudly say that I don’t see this as work but more like a hobby because I enjoy creating things and spend time developing myself.

Do you have a motto or favorite saying?

MY: Yes, I do! “The first step is to establish that something is possible; then probability will occur.”

Meet the Team: John Bwogi

From the internship to a full-time position as a Ground Engineer – John Bwogi has grown as a professional together with us! John has been part of the Direct Maintenance team for over 8 years now – and it’s time he’d share a few insights on his experience with us!

Why did you choose to work in aviation? How did you start working at Direct Maintenance? 

John Bwogi: Pursuing my degree in Aeronautics in Algeria propelled me to work in the aviation field. After completion of my studies, I returned home to Uganda, where I got an opportunity to join Direct Maintenance on an internship program then, later on, was hired on a full-time basis as a mechanic.

Tell us a bit more about your experience at Direct Maintenance: what are the key challenges? What do you like most at your work? 

JB: I started my career with Direct Maintenance at a junior level, therefore I had to adapt and learn a lot from the experienced senior engineers who mentored me at the station especially Mr Douglas Madamombe (Maintenance Manager, EBB/LUN) and Mr Paul Ibekwe (Lead Engineer, EBB/LUN). This compelled me to learn the various approaches to solve technical issues and to also grow as a person – and that constant improvement and career growth are part of the things I appreciate the most.

What is your best memory from your work at Direct Maintenance? 

JB: It was the moment when I was finally promoted to the position of a fully licensed engineer and performed my first CRS!

As the current situation, influenced by the pandemic, has been quite challenging for many – what were the main challenges for you and how did you cope with them?

JB: Personal health and safety is the main challenge throughout this pandemic. Our job on many occasions leads us to mix with passengers – this alone increases our chances of contracting the virus. Keeping this in mind, I have to remind myself on a daily basis to be vigilant enough and observe the SOPs while still executing my duties as an engineer.

Besides aviation, what are the other things you enjoy – what hobbies, interests you have? 

JB: Besides aviation, my favourite activities include playing basketball, watching motorsport, soccer and rugby. My interests are skydiving and flying ultralight planes am looking forward to ticking this off my to-do list.

Let’s also see a few of your aviation favourites… What is your favourite place to travel to? What is your dream destination? 

JB: Dubai (UAE) is my favourite place to travel for shopping and social life; Cape Town in South Africa is my dream destination as I would love to visit the Table Mountain

Meet the team: Hasibe Sabuncu

Today is the opportunity to build the tomorrow you want – this is the motto with which Hasibe Sabuncu, Operations Support here at Direct Maintenance, takes upon challenges every day. Get to know her better as she shares her experience while working with us!

How long have you been part of Direct Maintenance family? Did you know anything about the company before joining?

I have been part of the family since September 2019. I am not from ‘the industry’ and it was the first time that I got into aviation: at that time, I have been searching for a company that could challenge my ambition, develop my skills and has professionals working at the same time. Direct Maintenance has offered me all my needs and I am happy at work here from the very first day I’ve started!

I have been passionate about travelling since I was a kid and always wanted to work for a global organisation, therefore I graduated in IBM’s bachelor. Honestly, I have been thinking to work as a stewardess once before – but somehow knew also it would not be the exactly right work for me. So, when the opportunity came for a position at Direct Maintenance, I took it without hesitation.

What are the main challenges in your line of work? Do you have any “tactics” how you take on those challenges?

As I am working in Operations support, surely can be challenging sometimes. There is no day the same and that’s something that motivates me. However, working on so many different projects require to use and always aim to develop my coordination skills to be in control. I am a perfectionist and I strive to improve every day, to work efficiently to achieve the best results – and that’s also how I tackle the challenges: with always learning from them.

What are your other hobbies and interest? How do you like to spend your free time?

Direct Maintenance family knows that I am passionate about baking/ I like the vibe of sitting together and spending time to talk about random things while enjoying some baked goods. To burn the cake, I like to do Pilates regularly and I am riding horse as well. Besides that, I am travelling and exploring a lot when I got the chance to do and reading spiritual books, attending mindfulness seminars and meditation has become my number one practise since a long time.

What is your favourite moto?

Honestly, I do have a couple of quotes that will describe me either for work or general so I will share two! 1. Today is your opportunity to build the tomorrow you want. 2. She knew the power of her mind and programmed it for success.

The road to recovery: how the state of the aviation industry has been shaped by the pandemic?

Interview with Jacco Klerk, CEO at Direct Maintenance

In your opinion, what are the key elements for the “recovery phase” within the aviation industry to kick? Can you share your predictions on the path of the recovery?

Jacco Klerk: In the recent period, we have seen a low passenger flight demand, airlines changing their used equipment frequently, and we as service providers to provide flexible solutions. This means we need to be flexible to adapt to our customers to bring our aviation industry steadily back on its feet together. And we foresee that this will be the situation for the time being: we need to be agile in supporting our customers in their line maintenance needs and swiftly adapting as an organisation to serve our customers. This said, we still expect that we will experience a modest ramp-up of flight schedules in the rest of 2021 and steady grow back to pre-COVID-19 levels in the coming years as soon as we can travel again. In parallel, we expect the demand for Cargo flights with its current high frequency and dynamics to keep growing for the time to come due to limited belly freight options. From the perspective of leasing companies, a wave of new operators will come. These new operators will need proactive service providers to de-store aircraft and, after induction into operation, to have a flexible supporting line & base maintenance service provider. More likely independent providers, who have more focused customer dedication to provide bespoke tailored and cost-effective solutions. Something we as Direct Maintenance, part of Magnetic MRO, are well-positioned to offer.

With the financial impact of the pandemic as well as consumer trust pressure, all operators will want to avoid delays as soon as they re-start with their operations. And this will shape the customers’ expectations. What main improvements will have to be in place to meet these demands and what homework maintenance service providers have to do in order to be prepared?

Jacco Klerk: We have conducted a company-wide review, engaging all our personnel and consulting our customers. From observation to lessons learned – there is a range of improvements that we are implementing now to be well prepared, be adaptively coming out of this pandemic, and become more agile and deliver on our customer’s expectation. It all starts from how we act closer within our organisation – from stations engineers and management – as one team. We gain significantly from all our initiatives – so will our customers.

How Direct Maintenance have coped with challenges brought by the pandemic and how company is ready to contribute to the recovery of the industry?

Jacco Klerk: Like many aviation companies, we had a challenging time too, which pushed us deep into reviewing our organisation. However, looking back over 2020, all personnel has worked together to take initiatives and actions to pull through this challenging period. In return, this has deepened the family & team feeling and solidarity across our stations in Europe and Africa and our ongoing commitment to supporting our customers.  As an organisation in the wake of the industry’s recovery, we must remain flexible and adaptive to support our customers as our contribution, demonstrating our “can-do” and “we-care” spirit.

What are the key customer support requests you’re getting from passenger airlines and cargo airlines?

Jacco Klerk: Passenger airlines tend to focus more on their core business coming out of this pandemic. Based on our interactions with them, we see a development where airlines are leaning towards independent Line maintenance network service providers: next-generation of service providers, who will be able to provide service beyond the current scope of standard line maintenance services. Cargo airlines already focus more on services beyond the usual scope; besides, they expect us, as service providers, to be flexible with the dynamics in their operation. 

Leasing companies are looking to work more with organisations that can provide a range of service and have reliable partners looking after their assets. From our perspective, providing a full suite of solutions, from storage programmes, ferry flight support, line & base maintenance as Direct Maintenance and Magnetic MRO allows us to accommodate these requests and see a shift in demand.

Are there any longer-term projects that you’ve accelerated due to the pandemic? Is your business pivoting in ways you wouldn’t have predicted a year ago?

Jacco Klerk: We have ignited a lean and agile approach in our business attitude by engaging and empowering our personnel, driving improvements and best practising sharing. In parallel, we are focusing on accelerating digitalisation and optimisation on how effectively running our organisation. Our stations are known to have a strong customer focus DNA, and we will strengthen and enhance this further. We are finalising a strategic review of our long-term projects following the pandemic, which will provide new opportunities within our industry. Also, we are utilising our group capabilities as a Magnetic Group subsidiary to develop adaptive solutions supporting our customers’ outlook for the coming years.

Meet the Team: Timothy Kathuma

Timothy Kathuma, Lead Mechanic who works at Direct Maintenance station in Nairobi, Kenya, has been part of Direct Maintenance for over 9 years already – and what he likes the most is how fast-paced this work environment is. Get to know Timothy better as he shares a few insights from his experience with us.

Timothy, glad to have you onboard. Tell us how this aviation-career has started – what was your path to aviation industry?

Timothy Kathuma: It started right away when I enrolled for studies: I have studied Aeronautical Engineering and then I went for an Internship at Wilson Airport general aviation. Later on, I had experience in working for KLM under Engineering and Maintenance internship program and then joined Direct Maintenance in October 2011! So this year I will be celebrating 10 years of being part of this family. And I keep on working on to become a Licensed Aircraft Engineer in future!

What would you name as the main challenges in your line of work recently – and how did you cope with these challenges?

TK: I probably won’t say anything surprising – like for most, COVID-19 pandemic has been the biggest challenge yet. And there’re no easy way to cope with it besides doing what’s in your power – that includes taking all required safety measures, like wearing mask, social distancing and taking your part in slowing the spread. Besides that, all we have to do is follow the rules and wait until it’s under control after the vaccinations rolls out globally and we can get back to life we were used to before the pandemic.

From challenges to joys: let’s talk about the achievements you are proud of! What would you name as your main professional achievement of the past year? 

TK: I was appointed to be charge of DMX Africa stations as Tools and Calibration controller, meaning I am responsible for ensuring paperwork, all up to date according to company procedures and tasks alike. It is a great responsibility and I appreciate the trust placed on me for this task.

What do you enjoy the most when working at Direct Maintenance?

TK: I enjoy many tasks here and how dynamic it is, like quick turn-rounds on defects troubleshooting and during AOG situations. I also like my responsibilities in ensuring all our Africa stations Tools been calibrated, and records are up to date.

Also, I like to participate in critical tasks, like engine change – and I like to know my work helps to ensure the airworthiness of the aircraft and its safety during the flight – it all makes my work worthwhile.

And besides work, do you have any hobbies or special interests that helps you to relax after busy day at work?

TK: I have a few things I like to do in my free time – from adventures in the nature and going to the zoo, to watching football match or giving back to my community and taking part in community service – all of them adds to a productive – and still dynamic, like work! – free time.

And which destinations are your favorite to travel to?

I probably would agree any time to jump on the plane which would land in London Heathrow so I could visit Royal Botanic Gardens – or any plane en-route to JFK airport in New York to go to Queens Botanical Gardens. You probably can see the tendency here of where I like to go to the most!

Meet the Team: Dario Novak

Dario Novak, B1/B2 Licensed Engineer working at Direct Maintenance station in Hamburg, has been part of our team for a little over a year – but his experience in aviation goes way beyond. Get to know him better and learn about his path to working with us – as well as about a few of his other skills outside the aviation.

What was your path to aviation industry?

My aviation path started in March 2007 with Adria Airways, a former Slovenian flag carrier in Slovenia, my home place.

And then, my first contact with an airplane was in hangar during base maintenance where I started to work as a non-licensed mechanic with a B2 team on Bombardier CRJ-200. I had no previous knowledge or experience in aviation and never saw an airplane that close. That was a totally new world to me! 3 years later, I gained my basic B2 license and after that my type ratings followed. Now I hold 5 type ratings on B1/B2 license – it makes me feel very fortunate having narrow-body, widebody and turboprop on it, so only a supersonic is missing now!

I am utterly grateful to all who supported me at the start of my career and to all B1 and B2 engineers who taught me working skills, shared their technical knowledge for every airplane system I asked about and let me press those buttons in the flight deck to learn what they do. I learned along my path so for my first steps, I will always put them on the top place as my best mentors!

How long have you been part of Direct Maintenance?

I met our AMS based colleague Danny who was working at the time in HAM in June 2019. I happened to be in the hangar at that time as I had AOG on the airplane I was working on. I went to the Direct Maintenance office to ask for some tools, and the short meeting ended up with me having a business card from our COO Erik Verwijmeren. Erik, and later Gino (HAM maintenance manager), were my first contacts with Direct Maintenance and I would like to thank them for giving me an opportunity to join the team and of course, Vivien (our HR manager) who handed me that contract on October 2019! So – it has been already a memorable ride for me.

What were the main challenges for you in the past year? How did you cope with those challenges?

I just finished my Boeing 777 training in Paris at the end of 2019 and two weeks later I was on my way to the UK for Airbus A380 training. The start was great, and nobody ever thought of what was waiting for us in the next months. I was in Bangkok at the time, finishing my practical training on A380 and was about to fly to Malaysia for short holidays with my wife when we found out our tickets were cancelled due to outbreak of the pandemic. So, the quest to get a flight ticket back home started. Somehow, we managed to get them and when we came back home, I was literally off the work from the end of March until September. Time in between was hard due to lack of work and uncertainty, but I occupied myself with studying German and Ukrainian language, reading some aircraft materials, cooking and working on my photography skills, visiting my family whenever was possible. Later in October 2020 things came in some sort of normality. I feel extremely lucky that besides the current ongoing crisis, worldwide travel restrictions, business drop, etc., seeing my ex-colleagues with a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge in aviation losing their jobs – I was able to keep mine. All I wish from now on is that everything comes back to normal and everyone gets their jobs back.

What would you name as your main professional achievement of the past year? 

Hard to say as certifying my first Boeing 777 as a B1 engineer or gaining an Airbus A380 B1/B2 license has a similar weight for me: these are aircraft I had never imagined I could ever work on and especially being able to certify a release to service for them. The previous airplane I worked on before joining Direct Maintenance was ATR 42/72 turboprop – don’t get me wrong, that’s the airplane I love and enjoy working on it a lot, but the difference is obvious!

 What do you enjoy the most when working at Direct Maintenance?

I like the fact we can support each other at other stations too. Just seeing the biggest airplane arriving and departing at Hamburg Airport makes you feel great: I like knowing you are in charge to accept all the challenges it brings, keeping it airworthy in pretty short turnaround. I feel honored to be in that position.

Do you have any hobbies or special interests that helps you to relax after busy day at work?

I think a nice cup of espresso is all I need. If I tell you that I need some special interest to relax after a busy day at work, our AMS and MST team of engineers will start laughing as they are very busy!

I also like photography, either with a drone or my DSLR camera and, apart from the airport I like to work in the kitchen (my wife doesn’t complain) as I enjoy cooking. A fun fact: besides all certificates, I hold in aviation I also hold a barista certificate as I like everything about coffee except mixing it with milk or drinking filtered one!

Meet the Team: Rob Kempen

Meet the team! For Rob Kempen, over two years he spent at Direct Maintenance has passed in the speed of light as every day is full of new challenges. And that’s just the start – in Rob’s opinion, there’s always a lot to learn in aviation.

Get to know Rob better and check out some of his insights about his experiences working here at Direct Maintenance.

Can you describe your work?

I would use the word “Dynamic” for sure! As an aircraft mechanic working at a Line Maintenance organisation you never know what to expect: first, the aircraft is coming in and looks perfectly fine and at the other moment there can appear a “status-message” and the pressure is on!

How has the COVID-19 pandamic changed your job? 

The pandemic had a big influence on my daily activities as a lot of customers downgraded their flight schedule. In the first months, we had only a couple of cargo flights. However, this period gave me and my colleagues the opportunity to go on a course to improve our skills, so I and my colleague Eric finished our Part 66 B1.1 course and in the meantime, some other guys finished there A320 type training. I think it was the best approach at that time – and I appreciate that here we get a lot of opportunities for further professional development.

For you personally, which recent work experience has been the most exciting or the most challenging and why? 

In these a little over 2 years that I’m working here, I already did some very nice jobs! As an example, we changed a radome on a B787 Dreamliner and had to use a massive crane and replaced the one that was damaged because of a hailstorm. When you are doing jobs like this you have to be focused and communicate very well with your colleagues to get the job done!

What are the main qualifications needed in your line of work? What are the main tasks / responsibilities in your position? 

Communication is key in this kind of work! Working in and around an aircraft is something you do with a lot of people. On and offloading from cargo, catering and refuelling is happening all at the same time. You must realize that every decision you make can affect their safety or working process. Before you decide to put the flaps down you have to make sure there is no high-loader next to your wing.

What do you like most about working in aviation – and at the Direct Maintenance? 

Working in aviation and especially in aircraft maintenance is something to be proud of. The feeling that you and your co-workers make sure that an aircraft can depart safely back home makes me happy, day in day out! And working here is something I enjoy every day. Our group of technicians is like a real brotherhood. Everybody is helping each other to improve – I’m still learning every day from our experienced engineers!

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