RAF Odiham Engineer Selected to… Represent RAF & UK at a World Skills Competition
Senior Aircraftsman Technician (SAC(T)) Ben Tullet, an Aircraft Mechanical Technician, who works within the Role Bay at RAF Odiham, has been chosen from over 900 people to represent the UK at a World Skills competition. Ben, who is 21, joined the RAF in 2007. Following his Technician training at the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering (DCAE) Cosford Ben was posted to the Chinook fleet at RAF Odiham. Ben was subsequently nominated as a candidate for the Worldskills (UK) competition.
Worldskills (UK) is an internationally recognised and respected organisation which promotes skills and competency in many professional specialisations; from chefs to paint sprayers, from electronics technicians to bricklayers. Worldskills promotes excellence by providing a platform for tradesmen to showcase their abilities through competitions in many specialist areas.
Ben competed in the aeronautical engineering (mechanical) discipline. The RAF is one of the largest providers of Aeronautical Engineering Apprenticeships in the United Kingdom so when the invitation came early in 2012 to participate in the Worldskills competition, they relished the opportunity. DCAE Cosford, being the centre of RAF Aeronautical Engineering Technician training, were quick to realise the value of participation and produced a list of suitable Advanced Level 3 Apprenticeship candidates, who had recently graduated. Their eligibility was based on age and the marks earned whilst in trade training.
The national competitions (Avionic and Mechanical) were held in November 2012 at the NEC Birmingham. It was open to all Apprenticeship providers in the UK, which included British Airways, Rolls Royce, Virgin, BAE and the RN and Army. The competitions were designed to reflect the role of a mechanical or avionics engineer and the standards expected within the Aeronautics Industry. They consisted of the following: powered flying control unit removal/refit, design building and testing a hydraulic circuit, flying control rigging, sheet metal and hand skills task, electrical cable replacement in a restricted environment and fault finding. The competition was fast and furious and was a test of the competitor’s ability to cope with stress. Personnel from RAF Odiham had a very successful competition, with nine personnel being placed in the top thirty in the aircraft mechanical discipline, and six personnel placed in the top thirty in the aircraft avionics discipline.
Following this competition Ben was selected to become a member of the UK Squad. In January he attended a training camp in Finland where he was able to learn electrical based skills that he had not previously attempted. In February he went on to compete in a five day competition following which he was announced as a member of the UK Team that will compete at the International Worldskills competition in the aircraft maintenance discipline, which will take place in Leipzig, Germany in July. In the competition, Ben will be called on to complete six tasks against representatives from thirteen other countries.
On being selected to compete at the International Worldskills Competition Ben said: “It is a true honour to be able to represent not only the Royal Air Force at international level, but the UK. I believe that this is a chance to demonstrate the professionalism and immaculate standards of the aircraft technicians here in the UK to the rest of the world.”
Ben will now attend further training sessions to teach him more advanced electrical, and sheet metal work skills as well as training on the helicopter engines that he will work on during the international competition.
The Role Bay where Ben works, at Odiham is a facility which carries out second line servicing on all the Chinook Under-slung Load Equipment, Extended Range Fuel Tanks, External Rescue hoists and a plethora of other quickly removable equipment, which assist in the Chinooks’ vast range of roles. Ben has now achieved a high level of competence within the role bay and all of its equipment servicing.