The young Gloucester apprentice with eyes on a sky high future

Inspired by his Formula One engineer father and Royal Navy Falcons engineer grandfather, Lewis O’Brien is seeing his career prospects soar with on the job training at Skyborne at Gloucestershire Airport.

By Emma Luther  |  Published
Lewis O’Brien, from Gloucester, is one of the young aircraft engineers working at Skyborne at Gloucestershire Airport.

In an age where the younger generation is often glued to mobile devices and computer games, it’s rare to come across a 19-year-old with laser career focus and dedication to their career of choice.

It’s even rarer for that passion to come to them at 14-years-old. But for Lewis O’Brien, from Gloucester, his determination and focus has led him to a prestigious engineering apprenticeship at Skyborne at Gloucestershire Airport that's firing up big dreams for the future.

The young aircraft engineer's passion for aviation started at the Aim High program with local aviation charity Fly2Help which lets 14 to 18 year olds carry out hands-on tasks on demonstration engines.

In July 2022, Lewis joined Gloucestershire's Skyborne Fleet Support, where he started an engineering apprenticeship learning to help maintain aircrafts used by young people training to become pilots for airlines, including British Airways and easyJet.

His progression as a junior technician in this short period of time has been meteoric, passing key exams and making strong progress towards his engineering licenses. 

Head of operational delivery at Skyborne, Vicky Harriss, said: 'With his competence, efficiency, and enthusiasm, Lewis is a model example for young people to follow, with Skyborne seeing in him potential for future managerial roles in the business.'

Lewis said: 'Being an engineer has been my ambition my whole life, probably influenced by my dad and grandfather, who were both engineers — dad for a Formula One team and grandad for the Royal Navy Falcons.

'After school, I became a CNC machine apprentice for a manufacturing company when I was approached by Skyborne which offered me the engineering apprenticeship. Switching my career to aviation was a no-brainer for me.'

Learning on the job has proved to be the perfect environment for Lewis to flourish.

He said: 'It's a great atmosphere at Skyborne, where everyone takes responsibility for their roles and readily offers support. It’s the kind of community where teamwork thrives.'

He's working towards his B1 aircraft engineering license, which will qualify him to carry out and certify all maintenance work on an aircraft, with in-depth studying alongside the job.

And he's a big fan of apprenticeships. Lewis said: 'The hands-on experience is undeniably invaluable. The goal is to qualify within three or four years. 

'Skyborne is a growing company, and in my 18 months here, I’ve witnessed massive positive changes. I'm interested not only in how the company develops but also in how I can grow with it. I'd be happy to stay here for a long time, and the future looks promising.'

Vicky is delighted to have the teenager on board.

She said: 'At Skyborne, we are proud to support the development of aspiring aircraft technicians. It is a strong initiative for the business to employ apprentice technicians and place them on a guided development program with hands-on experience from day one.

'We benefit greatly from the apprentice technicians being highly passionate about learning new skills, and we have the beauty of developing directly relevant skills from the earliest exposure to engineering, ensuring the highest standards and practices are developed from the outset.

'The tailored on-the-job training not only allows the apprentice to hone their skills and practices but also enhances the roles of current experienced technicians by providing the opportunity for them to grow and develop as trainers, imparting their skills and knowledge daily.

'By growing our own talent, allowing the technicians to see a career path and to be part of a developing business, we ensure a strong team of talented technicians remains engaged and loyal, wanting to grow alongside Skyborne.'

As fleet support assistants develop into junior technicians, the firm will backfill the role on an ongoing basis.

A vacancy for a new apprentice is expected to be advertised in coming months.

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