Tom's navigates education red tape to keep his aircraft maintenance career flying

Aircraft maintenance apprentice Tom Burn combines study and on the job experience as he studies for his Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineers certificate.
Aircraft maintenance apprentice Tom Burn combines study and on the job experience as he studies for his Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineers certificate.


Tom Burn is back on track with his career after a bumpy start due to education red tape.

Tom joined Merimbula Aircraft Maintenance at the end of 2018 with plans to become a Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineer.

The four-year apprenticeship though soon hit some turbulence when a seven-hour drive to Padstow, south west of Sydney appeared to be the only option for classroom-based training facilities.

Rex Koerbin of Merimbula Aircraft Maintenance said he wanted to send Tom to Sale because not only was it a shorter drive, accommodation for the block release courses of two to three weeks each would be cheaper. Sale also helps to co-ordinate accommodation for students, something Padstow does not undertake.

But it wasn't to be and by the time they had finished trying to negotiate to get Tom into Sale, the Pastow course had started.

However help came from further along the south coast.

"We found a course in Nowra which did a lot of distance education and they took me on," Tom said.

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Interestingly Tom is now in the same situation as all the other students because COVID-19 has meant that distance education via Zoom is now the way to learn.

"There are weekly webinars and I sit exams. We're going through the course work and it's exactly like the classroom with the other students also on Zoom and anyone able to interact and ask questions just as they would in the classroom situation," Tom explained.

He admitted that it was a bit of a rocky start "but I got there and it's become normal to do it online".

Regular exams still take place which Tom takes under the watchful eye of an invigilator to ensure the desk is clear and no assistance is available.

Tom recently attained 100 per cent in his exam covering the maintenance of control cables. His four-year apprenticeship will enable him to complete a Certificate 4 in aircraft maintenance and he will then be able to sit his diploma which will give him a licence to work as a qualified aircraft maintainer.

"I'm studying every weekend and most nights and it takes a lot. Prioritising my time is important but it's what I've got to do for the next couple of years," Tom said.

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