Nick Mann standing in the hangar

Graphic: Nick Mann standing in the hangar

Born to be an engineer

Date published

04 Mar 2024

RFDS Senior Base Engineer Nick Mann has always dreamt of flying an aircraft but can’t get enough of fixing them.

Whether an aircraft is involved in an incident or needs scheduled maintenance, our RFDS engineers are there to help get the Flying Doctor back in the air.

RFDS Senior Base Engineer Nick Mann has been repairing and maintaining our fleet of 24 aircraft for more than 18 years and for him, a career in aviation was a natural progression.

Nick working on aircraft

“I have always had a passion for aviation engineering because it is in my blood – dad was a pilot and my grandfather was an aviation engineer,” Nick said.

“Throughout my childhood, I was surrounded by model planes, aviation books, WWII documentaries and air shows so looking back, I don’t think I would have taken any other path.”

After completing high school Nick decided to take an engineering apprenticeship with RFDS where he did three years of training and one year on-the-job.

“The RFDS was very keen for me to get my licenses and helped provide the training and qualifications I needed,” he said.

From there, Nick worked nine years at the RFDS Broken Hill Base and ticked off all his engineering licenses while working on the Flying Doctor’s impressive Beechcraft King Airs.

He was then offered the opportunity to work for the New South Wales Air Ambulance under a contract for four years, still working for RFDS, before moving back to the Brisbane Base to work as our Senior Base Engineer.

Each day he meets with our team of engineers across the state to discuss what aircraft defects have happened overnight and develops a plan for repairs and maintenance across the fleet.

“The job is evolving,” Nick said.

“We have aircraft landing from different locations and each of them could have a small defect which needs to be checked – which is why time management is so critical.

“We may have an aircraft in the hangar from Monday to Friday but if it needs to go Friday, it needs to go.”


Not only do our engineers juggle repairs they also face the unpredictable circumstances which come with aviation in the outback.

“We had an aircraft that was hit by a bird and so we had to fly a licensed engineer out to make an assessment and bring the aircraft back to the base for maintenance,” he explained.

“However, some repairs just have to be done in the field.

“For example, if there is a strike to a propellor during a landing and the propellor is damaged, our engineers must travel with a line maintenance toolbox and work in the field to repair it.

“It’s hard work but I love it because when you work in the base you have all of the tools at your fingertips but when you are on the ground you need to think ahead and be strategic about what you can take.”

Nick said a huge drive for his team is knowing that for every aircraft they fix, more Queenslanders are helped by the Flying Doctor.

“When you see a little baby get taken off an RFDS aircraft it really pulls at your heartstrings,” he said.

“Our team will go above and beyond to get that aircraft out knowing it could save a life.”

The world-class aeromedical retrievals and healthcare services delivered by the Flying Doctor to regional, rural, and remote Queenslanders, would not be possible without our expert in-house engineering department. 

To find out more see here.