After more than two decades in the aviation industry, there’s not much Andrew Bauer hasn’t seen or worked on.
The Textron Aviation avionics technician recalls one of his most challenging projects over the years: completing a custom glass cockpit upgrade on a Citation Bravo jet with a limited set of wiring diagrams to guide him and his team through the installation process.
“The wiring drawings we were given weren’t very clear; we couldn’t transfer all of the instructions as easily as we’d done for other overhauls,” he said.
Bauer remained in constant contact with the engineers who designed the installation diagrams to complete the installation, relying on conference calls and emails to ensure the team remained on the right track. In avionics, where thousands of interconnected wires power an aircraft’s electrical systems, accuracy and communication are critical.
During his time working with Citation jets, Bauer has witnessed firsthand the evolution of the renowned platform, from the analog systems found in early 500 Series models to the cutting-edge flight decks of the Citation Latitude and Longitude. With every new aircraft and customer comes an opportunity to grow his skills and expand his expertise, Bauer said.
“Just when you think you know it all, you learn something new,” he said. “It’s great to break up the routine and work on something different every week.”
Today, the former Navy flight engineer is recognized as a lead technician at Textron Aviation’s service center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he oversees systems troubleshooting on Cessna and Beechcraft jets and turboprops.
As a longtime Textron Aviation employee, Bauer has also seen the team in Milwaukee grow from a small operation to a regional go-to maintenance facility for operators based in the Midwest. The service center is known for its highly tenured team of experts: more than 10 percent of employees have served the location since its 1990 opening.
We’ve gotten bigger, and we still put customer service and safety at the forefront. We help each other, we help our customers – it’s a positive work environment.Andrew Bauer, avionics technician, Textron Aviation Milwaukee Service Center
Part of that positivity also includes developing the skills – and the confidence – of a new generation of avionics technicians. With digital technology now standard on most business aircraft, technicians spend more time than ever before maintaining components like an aircraft’s autopilot and flight management system – an aircraft’s central computer that controls and automates various in-flight jobs for pilots.
“They’ve grown up with all of this technology at their fingertips, so it’s a lot easier for them in a way,” Bauer said. “But sometimes they’ll solve a problem and still think there’s one more thing to do, and that’s not always the case, so I encourage them to feel confident in their work.”
As a global demand in the avionics and aircraft maintenance field continues to grow, more professionals will be needed to help return aircraft to service. For those who consider themselves technically driven, avionics is an ideal career choice, Bauer said.
“If you like interpreting data, this is a great field to get into,” he said. “We’re persistent; we like figuring out new systems. If you’re interested in constantly looking into problems and figuring out how things work, you’ll be successful here.”