International Engineering Ambassadors
Insight into the life & course of international students.

Monday, 20 April 2015

My Summer Placement Experience

By: Usman Sami Khan

After finishing through with the first year of university, I was looking to find a summer placement back home in Pakistan. Fortunately enough, I managed to secure a placement at Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Pakistan’s national flag carrier. This was a two month long summer placement, from June till September. In the scorching summer temperatures of around 40°C, I started off my placement in the month of Ramadhan, a period of fasting from dawn till dusk for Muslims. As imagined, the field work pertaining to the placement really took the energy out of me during such high temperatures while observing fasts. 

The placement involved students being divided into groups and being rotated around Base Maintenance, Line Maintenance and the Engine Overhaul Shop. Seeing an aircraft with such highly precisioned engines in front of your eyes was a sight I cannot describe into words. While working at Base Maintenance, I was able to witness aircraft undergoing checks based on the class of check the aircraft was due to undergo depending on cycles and flight hours, namely the A, B, C, and D check. I also had a chance to work in Line Maintenance, witnessing how aircraft are serviced on ground before being sent off for flights. I have also worked extensively in the engine shop, where engines used to come in for shop visits and go through the rigorous process of being checked for snags before being sent off for service. After cleaning and NDT inspection, any components found that required machining or repair were sent off to the Machine shop where processes such as lathing, boring, and drilling were done to make the component serviceable again. This allowed me to witness Computerised Numerical Control (CNC) machines, including the CNC Vertical Turret Lathe and the CNC horizontal boring machine. After repair and modification, parts were sent to the general assembly area to be put together. The engines were then sent to the test bench for final clearance after verifying errors.

After having rotated around the aforementioned areas, we were also sought to assist ground engineers in helping repair any sort of snags that would come up. This gave us a hands-on approach and helped put our knowledge to use. PIA also services aircraft and engines for the other privately owned airlines in Pakistan, and therefore I also had a chance to go and help out engineers working on an Air Indus aircraft. Since the shops were located very close to the runway of the Karachi Airport, seeing aircraft taking off and landing in front of a matter of a few meters distance was simply breathtaking!

This placement provided me with the chance to put thermodynamics and fluid mechanics theories to practicality while learning about different aspects of aerodynamics, fluid hydraulics, and pneumatics. Apart from the obvious networking and teamwork skills, this unique experience provided me with an opportunity to learn extensively about the theory of flight and a basic gas turbine engine. This experience allowed my confidence to flourish while working in a team of interns in a very competitive environment.

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