Safe to Fly

The addition of the Bombardier CS300 aircraft to airBaltic’s fleet has been praised by both passengers and aviation experts alike. The planes are the most comfortable and environmentally friendly in their class, but in order for them to run smoothly, a whole team of mechanics and technicians must continually maintain them in top shape. CS300 avionics technician Aleksandrs Baškirovs reveals what it’s like to work with the new state-of-the-art aircraft.

Being an avionics technician requires a great deal of responsibility and a high level of skill. How does airBaltic prepare its technicians for their duties?

I obtained my master’s degree in electronics and telecommunications at the Riga Technical University. Already after getting my bachelor’s degree, I applied for an internship as a mechanic at airBaltic. It takes quite a long time before you can start working on your own. During the first five years, I worked under the supervision of certified technicians. I also passed the 13 required EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) exams for beginning technical training on Fokker 50 aircraft. Later, I obtained a Part-66 EASA licence, issued by Latvian CAA (Civil Aviation Authority), to work without being supervised by others. Currently, I’m an avionics technician for Bombardier CS300 and Dash Q400 aircraft. I supervise everything that has to do with navigation, communication, autopilot, lights, flight controls and all of the other electronic systems on these planes. I completed my theoretical training for the CS300 at the airBaltic Training centre and obtained additional practical knowledge at the Bombardier factory near Montreal, Canada. It really was exciting to gain additional firsthand experience straight from the plane manufacturer!

What is a typical work day like?

Every day is different. It’s impossible to predict what the next work day will be like, what situations you will have to resolve, whether you will have to spend the day in a stand-by regime and so on. We conduct regular and extended checks on planes every day, in accordance with our assigned schedules. airBaltic currently operates Boeing 737, Bombardier Dash Q400 and CS300 aircraft. Each aircraft type has its own teams of technicians, who are trained specifically to operate with that particular aircraft series. The first licence that I obtained was for work on Fokker 50 aircraft. After they were phased out of airBaltic’s fleet, I gained the qualifications to work with Dash Q400 and now CS300 aircraft.

How does your work with CS300 airplanes differ from your previous experience with other aircraft models?

Unlike other planes, the CS300 is extremely computerised. It is equipped with the latest technologies, making our work more interesting and challenging, because all of the onboard computers are interconnected. This is also the first airBaltic plane to be controlled with a sidestick instead of a yoke. At first that seemed rather unusual, but now both the technicians and the pilots appreciate this feature.

Passengers have lauded the CS300 for its high level of comfort, while aviation specialists appreciate its fuel economy and low carbon footprint. How would you evaluate the new aircraft?

The CS300 is extremely advanced, and only a few months have passed since we began working with it. So far, its overall performance has been excellent and we have been successful in ensuring that it provides safe and smooth flights. We are pleased that people in the industry outside of airBaltic have also appreciated our work and our high servicing standards.

What do you like most about your job?

The satisfaction of resolving situations that initially appear to be quite challenging.

How do you like to spend your free time?

Like most people who work in the aviation industry, I like to travel. I also practise photography as a hobby. I recently returned from the Maldives, which seemed like a real paradise! Actually, I think that every place has its own appeal and charm. I’m glad that airBaltic will fly to Abu Dhabi, because that opens up many opportunities for reaching more distant destinations from Europe. BO