The Faces of Magnetic MRO | Vladimir – The mechanic, who can make airplanes fly using only a wrench
Interviews & Articles
Magnetic MRO Hangar & Equipment mechanic Vladimir Kovaljov is working in Magnetic MRO for over 45 years now and has a lot to tell about work in aviation. Our Marketing Assistant Jana Suikanen sat down with him to ask a few questions about his experience in the company.
Jana Suikanen: Vladimir, you've been in the company for so long, can you tell me how your aviation career started?
Vladimir Kovaljov: After finishing high school, I was planning to go and study in Tallinn University of Technology. Suddenly I found an advertisement in the newspaper introducing aircraft and engines, and that instantly caught my eye. I submitted all necessary documents to the Kirsanov Technical Aviation School in Russia, studied there and after graduation returned to Estonia. I started my aviation career as a mechanic working on an AN-2 aircraft for the first six months. After that on 35-130 as a technician and then worked on chemicals for six months.
JS: So many different positions at the start of your career, I bet you wanted to learn everything at once. What other work have you done during the years?
VK: As I said, I started in a light-engine aircraft, as an AN-2 technician, after that, I began to work in the so-called heavy park, where I worked in the aircraft maintenance team for a year. Then I switched to landing gear team and worked as a team leader. After that, I joined the Boeing team as a mechanic, received a license for working with Fokker-50. My manager offered me to set up the aircraft repair section and that I did, and later on we built wheel and paint departments. It was MRO development from scratch. Also, we prepared a new building for A-check. Now I am working in Facility department as Hangar & Equipment mechanic.
JS: So, it seems like you are familiar with aviation from absolutely every angle! What are your primary responsibilities now?
VK: In general, maintenance of technological life-saving hangar systems, plus maintenance of aircraft equipment, different checks, tests. Some of the tasks are daily, but some of them need to be done once a year. For example, we do check the lifts only once a year, but the equipment used for aircraft maintenance must be checked daily. In summer, we work more with Boeing equipment, in wintertime more work with Airbus. Also, I am dealing with materials that need repairing. Our Facility department developed all the equipment required for the new hangar, to support the maintenance, so we made a technical note and based on that we prepared technical schemes. Now I'm preparing plans for the new hangar.
JS: So, it has always been a hands-on job that needs extreme precision. You must have good eyes ;) Your working tasks now are quite different compared to what you have done in the past. Why did you decide to leave the aircraft mechanics job?
VK: The main reason was paperwork. I didn't like it. But I have not entirely distanced myself from being a mechanic. During my time in the Facility department, I have done some tasks as a mechanic because I still had the license to work as a mechanic. In Copenhagen, when I was retraining to replace the stabiliser, someone said: "He does not like to talk, he only works, but we do not need such a person." I do not like to waste time. On training, we did some teamwork - while everyone was filling all necessary papers, I managed to get all the hands-on work done at the same time.
JS: In some ways, it was a lot easier being a mechanic back in the days. Just fascinating! I do hope you enjoy the work you do now to the fullest :) Thinking of all the years spent at Magnetic MRO, what is your best memory here?
VK: Something interesting happens every day, so it is tough to pick only one story. There was a case when one engine part broke and needed repairing. My chief asked if it is possible to replace it before 7 o'clock. The hardest part was that the detail was difficult to access, and it usually takes two days to remove the engine, and three people are needed to do this work. I took the challenge and managed to get in and replace this part despite having the clear visual and by trusting my hands over my eyes.
JS: It looks that your career in Magnetic MRO is so various. How can you describe all these years here?
VK: I very much like aviation. In case I didn't like it, I would have left this work a long ago because in the beginning salaries in the aviation industry were very low. But it's the variety that keeps people here, I guess.
JS: What about your free time? Do you have any hobbies in addition to aviation?
VK: Yes, I teach children ship modelling five times per week. I have been doing it already for 41 years. I like it because it teaches children to be inventive and makes them think of out-of-the-box solutions. You use available materials and have minimal resources to achieve the result – this is so close to real life, and I like teaching it to children.
JS: Wow. Taking over the skies and the seas, I see. I bet the children are very lucky to have you teaching them.
Last, but not least. What about the youngster that are starting their studies to be aircraft mechanics, do you have a special tip for them how to rule the skies?
VK: I would advise them to be very observant of the studies and to keep in mind that everything that they are teaching in aviation academies these days, is inspired by real-life events. And in the end, it is the most rewarding occupation, you are contributing to safer skies, and it is definitely worth sticking to it.
JS: Thank you, Vladimir. Magnetic MRO is very fortunate of having you in our family, a true face of the company since 1974 :)