Apprentice Engineer, Offshore
Sascha Wilkins is a Babcock employee located at Mungalalu Truscott Airbase, one of Australia’s most remote locations in the Kimberley region of northern Western Australia.
Truscott Airbase has multiple roles, as an Aeromedical Retrieval and Search & Rescue (SAR) base and a staging base for workers on the offshore oil and gas fields in the Timor Sea. The latter is core business for Babcock and maintaining the helicopter fleet located at Truscott is just one part of Sascha’s work day.
“My job is to learn from the Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineers and build my skills and confidence across a range of tasks,” Sascha says.
“This includes learning a series of policies and procedures for engineering, across the operations and areas such as the ramp and store.”
Sascha is part of the growing Babcock Offshore Services business in Australia, which provides world-class offshore energy transportation helicopter services to blue-chip oil and gas companies, supporting their production, drilling and exploration campaigns in Australasia.
A typical work day at Truscott begins with a ‘JSA’ – a documented risk assessment – and a tool box meeting which sets up the schedule for helicopters that need to be prepared for the day of flying.
“We then conduct a pre-flight check of helicopters where we assess each one, closing cowls and making sure it’s clean inside,” she says. “The helicopters are then taken out to the helipad and we do a start watching for fires.”
The passengers are then loaded and the helicopters depart.
While the helicopters are out flying, Sascha and her colleagues are focused on hangar or component maintenance or research for upcoming maintenance.
“When the helicopters arrive back to the base, we get stuck into the maintenance,” she says.
Sascha joined Babcock in March 2016, starting her apprenticeship in general aviation working on small helicopters. “But I always wanted to try and get in to working on the big offshore helicopters,” she says.
“Completing these tasks gives me a sense of accomplishment and having other people happy with my work just makes me feel good about myself”
Babcock provides offshore helicopter support services using a mixed fleet of larger aircraft from its operations in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
She says her first day was “quite overwhelming”. “The staff and the way the company was run was all very professional, clean and switched on.”
“And now we have new bases such as Barrow Island and Darwin, our footprint just continues to grow and grow.”
Operating out of Truscott has its challenges, particularly with its remote location. Aircraft maintenance must be planned as, when a part is not in stock locally, it will mean an aircraft is temporarily grounded until it arrives. This is just part of the comprehensive education she’s receiving from colleagues. Her confidence is growing, as these challenges and she delivers the many tasks that she is working on with the support of her team.
“Completing these tasks gives me a sense of accomplishment and having other people happy with my work just makes me feel good about myself,” Sascha says.
“I love learning new things and how the components on the helicopters work.”