Peta Williams, 28, is a landing gear engineer at Airbus. She graduated in 2001 with a Masters in aeronautical engineering from Southampton University.
What do you do in your job?
I work on the nose landing gear for our long-range aircraft. Airbus don’t make the landing gear as this is the responsibility of our subcontractors, so the role of my department is to create the specification for the landing gears and then to integrate the gears our suppliers build into the aircraft, ensuring that they meet the various requirements. The aircraft I work on is in service, so we now look after its continuous development. This means that I look at anything from minor changes to aircraft maintenance manuals to more complex modifications that need to be made to the landing gear as a result of changes to the requirements or developments on test.
What do you like about your job?
I like the variety of the job the most. We don’t get involved in the detailed design of the components, so instead we are involved in a more over-arching role. We still have to understand how the gear works and how it fits together with all the other aircraft systems, but our role is to manage the overall package, liaising with flight tests, safety, procurement, technical publications, structures, airworthiness, in-service support and many more departments to make sure the necessary work is completed to ensure a fit for purpose product in service.
What do you dislike about your job?
I wasn’t really prepared for the amount of documentation I have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. There are a lot of papers to review, store and write. It doesn’t detract from the rest of the job, which I still really enjoy, but it has highlighted to me just how important document management is in any company.
What are your biggest challenges?
We work on a number of different tasks with different stakeholders. The challenge in this job is managing their competing priorities and making sure that all their requirements are met. When I started this job the challenges were more around understanding the technology and all the processes involved – there are a huge number to get your head around. That part of the job was more intense at the beginning but I am still constantly learning and I think that will continue throughout my career.
Advice to readers considering a career in your field:
Lots of the skills that I use in my role are organisational and people skills so I would say don’t forget to work on these just as much as your engineering skills – they can be very valuable.