Damien working on aircraft

Graphic: Damien working on aircraft

Engineering greatness

Date published

15 Jan 2024

Whether it is repairing an aircraft on a remote airstrip after a bird strike or overseeing maintenance of one of the new King Air B360s at our Brisbane Base, the work of an RFDS engineer is always varied and unpredictable.

It is that variety and unpredictability that first attracted Damien Bennetto to the Service.

Already familiar with the RFDS Beechcraft King Air fleet from his time as an avionics Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (LAME) with Hawker Pacific, Damien successfully transitioned to RFDS in Townsville when maintenance was taken in-house in 2020. 

Within a year, he had become Townsville’s Senior Base Engineer and, in May 2023, was appointed as Base Maintenance Manager in Brisbane.

Damien working on aircraft

Damien has taken that rapid career development in his stride, adapting quickly to the change.

As Townsville and Brisbane are the only two heavy maintenance bases in Queensland, his responsibilities as Senior Base Engineer in Townsville involved managing and conducting maintenance checks, rectifying line defects, and ensuring the supply of necessary parts and tooling. It was a job that still enabled him to spend 70% of his time ‘on the tools’.

In his new role in Brisbane, there is less time in the workshop, but great satisfaction in successfully planning and carrying out maintenance checks and repairs.

“You really don’t know what you will find when an aircraft comes in for its scheduled check or when a defect is reported,” he said.

“You could find unexpected structural damage that requires an engineering order to repair or, on occasion, complete part replacement – you just have to be prepared and ensure that you have the staff, equipment and tools available to solve problems as quickly as possible.”

Damien’s job today is a long way from what he envisaged two decades ago when he began his course at the RAAF School of Technical Training, but his interest in the electrical, instrument and radio systems in aircraft has remained a constant and, like many other Australian Army veterans employed by RFDS, he values working closely with a trusted team.

Damien’s sense of responsibility has also been a constant.

“From signing off on a task when I was a young LAME to putting my signature on a final certification today, I am passionate about the work we do because we keep the aircraft online, enabling the frontline workers to continue to save lives,” he said.