The MH-60R Seahawk helicopter is the most advanced maritime helicopter in the world. To keep its fleet of 24 Seahawks flying, the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) counts on Sikorsky Australia to perform comprehensive deep and intermediate level maintenance service on the aircraft.
To ensure a steady talent pipeline to maintain the Seahawks, Sikorsky Australia began an aircraft maintenance engineer apprenticeship program in 2018 to prepare people like Beau Buckpitt with the technical skills needed to support the aircraft.
The 20-year-old Beau is in the third year of Sikorsky Australia’s three to four-year aircraft maintenance engineer – mechanical apprenticeship program. As a mechanical apprentice, Beau works on flight control, transmission, fuel, hydraulic, landing gear and other systems at the company’s Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility in Nowra.
“It’s a good place to work, and there are very interesting things to work on,” said Beau. “Each Seahawk servicing is different. Every day is different.”
Fully accredited by the Australian Government, the apprenticeship program combines hands-on training at Sikorsky Australia with formal education through Technical and Further Education New South Wales (TAFE NSW).
Beau receives one week of classroom training several times a year from TAFE NSW, the country’s largest vocational education and training provider.
The rest of the time he works at the MRO facility, where he enjoys learning about the aircraft, how the different systems operate and how to repair them. Beau also likes being part of a team that takes its work seriously and has fun doing it.
“All the tradesmen here are basically my mentors,” Beau said. “Wherever I go to work, I’m paired up with someone, and they’re always willing to help me out and guide me. They’re all real good people.”
Sikorsky Australia’s aviation apprenticeships are part of the government’s aero skills training package to ensure they meet nationally recognised qualifications. Once he successfully completes his apprenticeship, Beau will be qualified to work in the aviation industry in Australia and internationally.
Since Sikorsky Australia’s apprenticeship and traineeship programs began, the company has graduated over 9 apprentices and trainees into the qualified workforce who are now working as full-time employees. Along with Beau, another 13 apprentices and trainees are currently enrolled in the programs and under training.
“I found out about the apprenticeship program through a couple of people who worked here, so I applied,” Beau said. “Now, I come to work each day knowing that I am well supported to learn new skills. I’d like to stay in this field. I want to get through the apprenticeship first and look forward being offered a tradesperson job. That would be good.”
Born and raised in Shoalhaven, Beau appreciates the flexibility Sikorsky Australia’s four-day work week provides. An avid surfer, he spends much of his free time on his board at the popular Culberra surfing beach in south-eastern New South Wales.
Last July, Sikorsky Australia achieved an important milestone, completing the 40th Periodic Maintenance Interval (PMI) for the RAN’s Seahawk fleet. The RAN’s fleet plan ensures the aircraft are properly maintained in a strict cycle and are available for deployment aboard ships undertaking missions around the world.
The RAN counts on Sikorsky Australia to support aircraft maintenance reliably, efficiently and on time. In May 2022, the Australian government announced plans to purchase additional Seahawks to bring the fleet to 36 aircraft, which will provide additional work and economic opportunity for local industries.
As a trusted partner, Sikorsky Australia is committed to ensuring it meets the Navy’s maintenance needs. Its commitment can be seen throughout Sikorsky Australia’s ranks, from senior leaders to apprentices like Beau.
“The Navy’s MH-60R helicopters are on the front lines,” Beau said. “Everyone takes their work very seriously. We’re there to make sure they’re all fixed up and fit for flight. I’m proud to be part of the team that keeps our country’s helicopters flying.”
Sikorsky Australia Traineeship & Apprenticeship Program
Sikorsky Australia Apprenticeships Offer Path to Career Success
Are you or someone you know interested in a career in aviation maintenance or support? Sikorsky Australia may have an opportunity for you.
Sikorsky Australia offers various aviation-related apprenticeships and traineeships. Accredited by Australia’s Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, Sikorsky Australia’s aviation apprenticeships are part of the government’s aero skills training package with nationally recognised qualifications.
Sikorsky Australia provides maintenance services for the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) MH-60R Seahawk helicopter fleet. For over 30 years, the company also has sustained the RAN’s Seahawks and the Australian Army’s Black Hawk helicopters.
Aviation apprenticeships at Sikorsky Australia take between three and four years and include:
- Aircraft Maintenance Engineers – Avionics inspect, service, repair, test and troubleshoot an aircraft’s avionics and electrical systems and components, such as power distribution, automatic flight controls, radars and more.
- Aircraft Maintenance Engineers – Mechanical inspect, service, repair, test and troubleshoot aircraft mechanical systems and components, including transmissions, hydraulics, landing gears and others.
- Aircraft Maintenance Engineers – Structures inspect, service and repair airframe structures and fabricate primary and secondary structures and components on the aircraft, such as stub wings, rotor blades, stabilators and more. They use specialised equipment to conduct major airframe repairs and replacements.
Sikorsky Australia’s one to two-year traineeship program offers a Certificate IV in Warehouse Operations for the company’s through-life support function’s work with the Royal Australian Navy. Tasks and responsibilities include maintaining aeronautical product control, managing inventory, working with global supply chains and more.
Go to Sikorsky Australia Trainee and Apprentice Programs for more information or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.