Chris Wiltshire has been pulling things apart from before he could walk, so a role as a technical coordinator at Airways was always on the cards.
“I’ve always had a technical bent, but Airways attracted me because there’s more of a safety focus and a different culture than where I’ve worked previously. I’ve worked in lighting and sound for shows around New Zealand, but this is a job that really makes a difference.”
Chris did a Bachelor of Engineering in Technology at CPIT, before joining the Airways training programme 18 months ago.
He explains that there are two parts to his role, looking after the equipment that controls the flow of air traffic throughout the country.
"We spend time at the technical desk, monitoring the status of the equipment throughout the country using a variety of tools, and receiving phone calls from technicians in the field and controllers in towers. If something needs attention we can either fix it in-house, or escalate the fault to a technician or engineer to make sure things are fixed quickly.
“We also have equipment rooms that provide the services for air traffic control across the country, keeping aircraft separated, safe and efficient, and we maintain all of that equipment so that it flows seamlessly for the controllers and the pilots.”
People do create safety. To me it means pride in your work. That you’re doing your job to the best of your abilities so that you’re doing things as safely as they can be done.
Chris says he enjoys the challenge of working out how to fix the huge number of systems that work together to provide the overall service.
“You might have a user say ‘it’s fuzzy’ or ‘it’s not working,’ and you need to actually to dig in to it and work out what point may be faulty. Is it the radio? Is it the voice switch? Or is it the network in-between, which is carrying that information? Then once you’ve analysed the information, you can narrow it down and then set about correcting it.”
Airways technicians need a good mix of customer service skills and a strong technical understanding of how systems work together.
“Often, we need to advise the customer - our air traffic controllers – of how a fault could impact them. To do this, you need to analyse what the fault is, and the implications of it, and then actually convey this to the controllers to let them know what the impact is,” says Chris.
"Safety is very much the culture here, everyone’s really friendly and positive and good to work with, and for everyone, it’s about treating our systems with the respect they deserve."