On 24 May, we're celebrating the dedication of all Airbus Defence and Space maintenance personnel who work behind the scenes to ensure the safety of the entire military aircraft family fleet in service around the world.

María Gomicia Ripoll, A400M Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) and Retrofit manager at the Getafe site, is part of Airbus Defence and Space’s MRO team. These teams support a fleet of hundreds of military aircraft around the world, working both at Airbus and customer sites. The teams perform scheduled aircraft maintenance, troubleshooting and integration of aircraft enhancements.

In the case of the A400M, the MRO teams complement the global retrofitting campaigns to integrate new certified capabilities, such as simultaneous parachute release from both side doors, automatic low-level flight, and improved airborne delivery and avionics.


What is your background?

With a lifelong fascination for the aerospace industry, I joined the Airbus family in 2015 in the Quality Engineering department at the Seville Flight Test Centre. In 2019, I made an important decision that involved not only a change of city, but also a change of role within the company. It was a move to challenge and encourage myself in new ways. My career in the production team at A400M MRO & Retrofit Getafe began, again thanks to the great support of the incredible people who are part of this company. Since then, every day has been a testament to growth and adaptability.


Why did you want to work in maintenance?

Being in touch with this enormous task makes you understand the critical role that maintenance plays in ensuring safety and efficiency.

For me, maintenance is the foundation of everything and it was the area where I could continue to learn and grow. By developing maintenance projects, we can offer our customers increased fleet availability and greater confidence in the future.
I have the privilege of leading a very reliable team around me. We are expanding our MRO business, focusing on customer satisfaction and confirming the Getafe site as an MRO centre of excellence.


What are the main challenges of your role?

Currently, at the Getafe plant, tasks related to the A400M have been focused on combined events that blend retrofit, maintenance, and additional capabilities for customer aircraft. However, the business is continually evolving, so we have to be ready to tackle new challenges. 

Having said that, the main challenge and responsibility for the team now is to integrate all operational planning and closed customer contracts while developing a new maintenance line, without impacting the current work schedule of the plant and making sure that safety is at the forefront of all operations. 

On the other hand,  another challenge was to establish four parallel work lines inside a hangar where only two positions were available until three years ago. Thanks to the incredible work performed since 2021 – with the elevation of part of the hangar roof and the development of special tooling, capable of increasing the axes of rotation of the aircraft movement – the team managed to fit an aircraft with a 42-metre wingspan through a 35-metre-wide door, increasing the number of positions in the hangar from two to four.


What do you like most in your role?

The team, the support, the diversity and how all the people work together for the company's future. The development team for the new MRO location in Getafe was proposed by people from a multifunctional team: facility, industrial means, aircraft management, logistics.... and all of them take responsibility and support the project with enthusiasm. I love the opportunity to bring together a diverse team of talented individuals and work collaboratively towards a common goal.


What was the most exciting and/or memorable day of your career?

All technical challenges you face can lead to memorable moments and people, something I think most people at Airbus can relate to. But continuing with this large maintenance project that I have been involved with over the last year, I'm going to choose the moment when we had four aircraft inside the D4 Hangar in Getafe for the first time.


How do you see the role of maintenance in the future?

In the aerospace industry, the role of future maintenance  is critical. With advancements in technology and the increasing complexity of aircraft systems, maintenance will continue to play a key role in ensuring the safety, reliability and efficiency of aircraft operations. 

Additionally, as sustainability becomes an increasingly important focus in aviation, maintenance practices will evolve to incorporate new solutions.

A lot of new interesting proposals are arising from predictive maintenance techniques and new physical developments and techniques. Maintenance processes will become more proactive and efficient, minimising downtime and optimising aircraft performance. Overall, the future of maintenance in the aerospace industry will be characterised by innovation, sustainability and a proactive approach to ensuring the continued airworthiness of aircraft.


What advice would you give to someone that wants to work in aviation maintenance?

I would say make sure you do hands-on work and respect the people around you and the environment you are in. Maintenance is a storied department at this company so it is important to learn and listen from experienced colleagues  and to remain adaptable and open minded to learning new technologies and methodologies. It is also important to not lose  focus and to continue trying to support the teams with innovation and new ideas.


New Hangar Position development team

The team that successfully integrated an additional aircraft space in a legacy programme hangar.