We joined the Direct Entry Graduate programme in 2010 and were given our first placements within our target area of Landing Gear. Landing gear engineers are largely based in the design office in Filton. Specific design work for the landing gear is performed by a series of suppliers and the role of a Landing Gear Engineer within Airbus is to manage technical requirements, vendor interaction and technical validation. This requires not only the careful management and coordination of suppliers, but also significant engineering effort in order to understand and integrate landing gears into the overall airframe. There are also a number of supporting functions to this such as test rigs and computer modelling (design analysis). A landing gear engineer would also likely be involved in systems testing on the full scale test rigs and supporting ground and flight tests in Toulouse. Transnational working is evident in every area so you can expect to be working with French, German and Spanish colleagues on a day to day basis.
Following our initial 6 month placements within the Landing Gear department in Filton, we have been given a wide variety of choices for subsequent placements. Some examples include the “Airbus Military Landing Gear Design Office” in Madrid where we had the chance to see the Spanish team at work and learn how they do things. While many requirements are the same for military aircraft, there are a number of other requirements often driven by harsh operating environments. It is important to note that functionally this team falls under the same business domain as the UK Landing Gear Design Office, therefore integration and knowledge share is crucial to ensure success.
Another placement was with one of the Landing Gear MAP teams at the Final Assembly Line in Toulouse. It offers an invaluable (and often hands-on) experience of the gears and their associated systems as they are installed and tested on each aircraft. Seeing the aircraft up close every day is very inspiring and with the wide variety of tasks to support there is no better way to get familiar with all the components of this important part of the aircraft.
We also had the opportunity to work with the “Landing Gear Reactive Support” group who is the ‘front line’ of technical support of landing gear for Airlines. This group fields all the landing gear related questions that come in through customer services. This is an exciting and dynamic place to work, and helps give a better appreciation of just how harsh the environment under which landing gear is expected to perform day-in, day-out can be when in service.
We have all gained valuable experience across numerous roles and areas within Airbus, giving us a sound footing on which to start our careers, and a broad skill-base to tackle anything our future roles may throw at us. As a graduate you are encouraged to develop and use a wide range of skills, both technical and personal. We were also able to work outside of Airbus with customers and suppliers. Between the three of us we have developed our knowledge and behaviours both professionally and personally through the experiences gained during these placements.