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!

Meet The Team: Falko Leichhardt

Dynamic working environment and great atmosphere are just a few things Falko Leichhardt, Lead Engineer and Deputy Station Manager in Berlin enjoys while working at Direct Maintenance. Get to know him better as he shares some of his insights about work – and the challenges this year has brought us all.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your job? What is now different than before the pandemic hit?

At the height of the pandemic, it was shocking to see no more aircraft were flying and the sky over Berlin was completely empty. All of a sudden, I had to get used to parking and storage tasks and plan the team accordingly. This was followed by a phase of gradual increase of the operation, which resulted and still results in constant replanning. Both were very challenging for me, but above all for the whole team in Berlin.

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

It is a great challenge to respond to changing customer requirements and to offer the best possible service. Be it spontaneously different flight times or other types of aircraft where spontaneous action is required from the team in Berlin – all of these dynamic changes bring some excitement.

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

I would say primarily to keep calm and keep a clear head. Furthermore, my position, in my opinion, is one of the best. I can continue to work on highly complex aircraft and therefore always stay in the field and also have a lot to do with customer communication and working with our management team to solve problems or respond to new customer requests.

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

Aviation continues to hold a great fascination for me. And at Direct Maintenance, I feel good because there is a relaxed family atmosphere and everyone can contribute with their ideas.

How do you evaluate your experience working at Direct Maintenance? What are your best memories from your time working here?

I started at Direct Maintenance when the station in Berlin was facing a mammoth challenge. To be part of it and to see how the team has (and still does) rise to the challenge together makes me very proud. In personal conversations with each individual in the team, everyone praises the great atmosphere and the good working relationship, which I can only confirm.

The wind of change: Direct Maintenance appoints new CEO

Direct Maintenance, a certified line maintenance service provider, part of Magnetic MRO, a Total Technical Care and Asset Management organization, has announced the recent change in its managerial structure, marked by the appointment of the new CEO, Jacco Klerk.

Jacco Klerk has an extensive background in aviation, with previous experience including Business Transformation Leader position at Jormaco, commercial aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) service provider, as well as experience in working with such companies as KLM Engineering and Maintenance and Qualitair Aviation Group, A Randstad company.

I am delighted to join Direct Maintenance and to have the opportunity to work with skilled and dedicated colleagues. Combined with my expertise, I’m looking forward to working closely with our Customers to strengthen Direct Maintenance services together with our growth ambitions to expand our service offering.
I genuinely enjoy working with people to improve and transform business, by engagement and empowerment of our People and I’m keen to lead this new chapter for Direct Maintenance,” shared Jacco Klerk, CEO of Direct Maintenance.

Direct Maintenance management team has built a standing reputation and accommodates one-of-a-kind portfolio of aircraft capabilities. The legacy will continue, but with the addition of complementary services and new regions to even better serve existing and new customers,” added Risto Mäeots, CEO of Magnetic MRO.

Meet The Team: Thomas Houston

Meet the team: Thomas Houston, our DUB station Engineer who has joined our team in early 2018 and has been witnessing first-hand how the company has grown since then. And enjoys it – the same way as he enjoys the dynamic work where there’re no similar two days and every day bring some new challenges!

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

I joined Direct Maintenance in Feb 2018. When I joined, I was familiar and confident on 2 aircraft types. These were the A320 family and B737NG. Prior to joining I was told the job would require intensive type training in conjunction with my Engineer duties in DUB and that it would not be easy. This excited me as I knew it was a great career opportunity that was not available in any other company in DUB. I embarked on 18 months of type training on various aircraft types.  The investment from DMX and the experience I have gained have been huge. It was a difficult but rewarding 18 months. 

What do you like most about working in aviation / for Direct Maintenance?

There are no 2 days the same in DMX. We deal with so many different aircraft types and airline operators that each day offers something different. Each operator has its own procedures and preferences on how tasks are to be carried out.  This variety helps keep us on our toes 

The stand out a benefit to working with DMX is the small team environment. DMX has grown considerably even since I have joined. But regardless of the growth, everyone is still on a first-name basis with each other.

How has the Covid pandemic changed your job? What is now different than before the pandemic?

Like so many in the aviation sector, we too have been impacted by the pandemic. We have been split into 2 separate shifts in order to maintain continuity in case someone tests positive. 

The decision was made early to reduce wages in DUB. As a team, it was agreed that this would give the best chance of maintaining everyone’s job in the company. To date, there have been no job losses in DUB and given the circumstances, this is an indication of the integrity of the company. This has helped maintain morale for us here in DUB. 

Meet the Team: Sven Schmitz

Meet the team! Sven Schmitz is a ground engineer in Düsseldorf – and he has been part of our global team since summer 2019. During this year working at Direct Maintenance, he already had the experience to fulfil his childhood dream and work on A380, the world’s largest passenger aircraft.

Read the interview with Sven and get to know him better!

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your job? What is now different than before the pandemic? 

Our job changed fast and I never expected such a change. At the beginning of the outbreak, I was in Dubai for an A380 level 3 type course. Unfortunately, I couldn’t finish it and have missed the practical part. In the last week, my colleagues and I sat on packed suitcases in order to be able to react to any changes: we rebooked our flights at short notice and I came to Düsseldorf on one of the last flights from Dubai. 

During the peak of the lockdowns, there was also little work as customers at Düsseldorf no longer were flying, with the exception of a few cases (freighters). And then since mid-July, I’ve been back half a day for two to three days. The work has changed since then: masking is mandatory at the airport and on the planes. We also pay more attention to hygiene and cleanliness in our office and on the planes more than normal. I also haven’t seen many of my colleagues yet, but I also stay optimistic and believe we’ll all come out of it stronger than ever!

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

There have already been some exciting and challenging work experience. We had an A380 AOG with an engine problem, a B787 with a lightning strike… All of this work is extremely interesting and challenging as these are planes that you don’t see every day and, above all, don’t work on them. 

However, the bird strike on a B787 has been the most exciting for me lately. We only had a turnaround time of about 1:30 hour. Thanks to excellent teamwork, we even managed to push the plane safely out 10 minutes before the scheduled departure time.

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

In general, I think that a quick mind, manual skills, and of course a good understanding of the maths! In addition, teamwork, flexibility and the ability to make decisions are much needed in our line of work!

As I am currently working as a ground engineer in Düsseldorf, my main job is the maintenance and repair of aircraft. As B1.1, aviation security is in my hands as I am the person authorized to release the aircraft. It is a very interesting job and I am lucky to be doing it!

What do you like most about working in aviation / for Direct Maintenance? 

Working in aviation is no ordinary job, it’s something special for me. Every day is different and it never gets boring. The challenge is to make the best every day by always continuing education and not standing on the spot – and I am up for this challenge! 

The special thing about Direct Maintenance for me is the team and solidarity. You are not a number, you know each other; you have insights into departments and jobs that you don’t have in every company.

How do you evaluate your experience working at Direct Maintenance? What are your best memories from your time working here?

I felt very comfortable from the start. I was accepted directly into the team and was able to get involved. I learned a lot and also got the opportunity to continue my education. The best memory was when we took over a customer with an A380. For me, it was a childhood dream to work on the world’s largest passenger aircraft and this dream has now come true!

Direct Maintenance supports Finnair flight bringing medical supplies

Last week Direct Maintenance welcomed a Finnair A350 aircraft at our Dublin station. This special flight brought medical supplies from China, through Helsinki. We are committed to contributing to the community in relation to the COVID-19 situation. Our staff in Dublin airport supported this special flight and made sure the aircraft could safely return home.

Thank you Team Dublin for your dedication!

Direct Maintenance welcomes back Pakistan International Airlines in Amsterdam

In times where we are more apart and there are only a few aircraft flying every day, we are more than happy to share another good news.

Last Wednesday Direct Maintenance supported a Pakistan International Airlines flight bringing Dutch citizens back from Pakistan. We have been working together with PIA since 2010 when they had regular flights to and from Amsterdam. We were happy to assist their beautiful Boeing 777 aircraft on their short stop to Amsterdam, give them a warm welcome and wave them off to a safe return home flight.

Direct Maintenance welcomes back their old friend Malaysia Airlines

Last Monday, Direct Maintenances welcomed back an old airline friend. Back in 2006, Malaysia Airlines was the first customer of Direct Maintenance in Amsterdam. Over the years we enjoyed supporting their fleet and greeting their crew in Amsterdam. It was a great pleasure to welcome the first flight since 2015 and experience the bond we continue to have with each other. Especially in these times, seeing back an old friend is a warm and positive experience. We look forward to continuing our cooperation with Malaysia Airlines for many years to come!

Direct Maintenance supports Kuwait Airways with rescue flight

Last weekend Direct Maintenance had an opportunity to assist Kuwait Airways in Dublin Airport station. Two Airbus A330 flights came to Ireland to retrieve students. Direct Maintenance was approached for ad hoc support and our engineers were happy to be able to support the A330s. In these strange times, we are here and ready to support where we can. Both aircraft and the students headed safely back to their home country!

Direct Maintenance donates facemasks to Dutch Medical Group

Last week both Direct Maintenance and Magnetic MRO have received the generous donation of face masks from Hangxin. However, since most of the Direct Maintenance staff due to the outbreak are non-active, the team had the liberty to pass masks on to the ambulance services, called the Dutch Medical group.

Happy to share a THANK YOU letter they have received:

“Dear Direct Maintenance team, 

We would like to warmly thank you for the amazing, generous gesture that we have received from you in the form of a large amount of facemasks.

It is amazing to receive this in this way and it is for us a healthcare organisation of great importance that this kind of donations happens. Our organisation, just like many other organisations and companies, go through anxious times. For us, the worry about the health of our caregivers comes on top of that. No matter how many extra measures we take, our people are day and night working with patients and our healthcare professionals are exposed to higher risk if they do not have access to protective gear. Facemasks are very important. The shortage is, therefore, all the more painful.

Our gratitude is large and I would like to extend our great thanks to the management and all colleagues in Direct Maintenance who made this possible!”
Edzard Enschedé
Director, Dutch Medical group

Direct Maintenance set up Cribmaster tool control system in TXL station

In mid-January, Direct Maintenance finalised the set up of the Cribmaster tool control system at the companies Berlin-TXL station. The set-up was performed with the assistance of Magnetic MRO Facility and Tooling Manager Maksim Kolesnik, as Cribmaster system is already used in the Tallinn hangars. Setting up a unified RFID based system will give the employees an easy way to manage all the tools. This is a step closer to companies digitalization & real-time RFID inventory tracking.

Karsten Kühnell, Stores Supervisor TXL, states: “The guys and I are really enthusiastic and motivated to start working using the Cribmaster system. It will make tool control less time consuming and more convenient.” 

“I am pleased to announce that the next RFID inventory and consumables tracking system is successfully set up. There are already over 40 active employees and more than 600 tools registered to the new system,” said Maksim Kolesnik. 

Direct Maintenance is currently using the latest release of Cribmaster software, which has been developed for maintenance station needs and covers all the following:

  • Total inventory control in real-time
  • Overal daily transaction report
  • Consumables management
  • Calibration expiry monitoring

In just two days Karsten and Maksim, with the help of Anouk Daams, project coordinator, and Patrick Broster from Cribmaster, managed to get acquainted with Cribmaster and assign items tags for tools and equipment. 

Maksim Kolesnik: “The system setup was very well welcomed – big thanks to Anouk and Karsten for the support and hopefully, they gained a lot of knowledge in these two days. Certainly, in future, we will make some follow up actions and come up with new developments which help improve everyday tools and consumables management.”

Direct Maintenance partners up with major flag carrier airline in Dublin

Direct Maintenance is delighted to extend the positive and longstanding cooperation with one of their most loyal customers in Dublin. It is with the continued mutual trust that we build on this partnership.

Frank Daams, Managing Director, comments: “When a current customer decides to extend to another one of our stations, we are always incredibly honoured. We strive every day to deliver the high-quality line maintenance that our customers have come to respect and to keep building on the relationships we have nurtured over the years.”

Direct Maintenance started with a new customer in Entebbe (EBB) station in Africa

As of this week, Direct Maintenance has started with a new customer in Entebbe line station – providing what we do best, line maintenance, on the Boing 777 Freighters.

Mandeep Rana, Head of Sales expresses: “It is great to see that many of our customers are extending their contracts with Direct Maintenance to other stations. This shows the trust we have gained by our performance. We continue to work towards a bright future!”

Direct Maintenance welcomes all line maintenance service support enquiries. Contact us today: sales@directmaintenance.aero.

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