What sparked your interest in aviation?

Like most people of a certain age, I purchased Airfix [model aircraft] kits as a kid, and later joined the Air Training Corps. The ATC is a great organisation for anyone interested in planes or aviation in general and like most people who join I grasped every chance I got to fly.

After school, I became a technician apprentice at GEC and began a career at night school. This time, 1981, was a period of constant study and I gained my further education teacher's certificate and City and Guilds full technological certificate, becoming a full-time lecturer at Wythenshawe College of Further Education in Manchester.

I also became a glider instructor on the Slingsby Venture T Mk2 motor glider. It was fairly aerobatic, simple and fun to fly, but in certain conditions was a bit of a handful to land. With the engine off it would soar quite well, my best height gain being around 4,000ft (1,200m) above the Forest of Bowland, one hot sunny day.

Working Week - Phil Older, Manhattan Aviation Serv
 © Manhattan Aviation Services

Where did your career take you next?

In 1990 the recession began to bite. Wythenshawe College closed its engineering facility and I became an engineering instructor at the military training school in Abu Dhabi. Five years later, I was appointed senior instructor at the Combined Forces Training school in Kuwait. At this time I developed an interest in quality systems, becoming a school auditor following the introduction of the ISO standards. On returning home to the Isle of Man for a while I downshifted into other areas of employment.

How did you get back into civil aviation?

In 2001 a position came up at Manx Airlines as a quality engineer. After passing the auditors' course I began to involve myself with the day-to-day activities of one of the best regional airlines ever. As part of my commitment in gaining the new position within the airline I went back to studying for a engineering degree with the Open University.

Manx Airlines was taken over by British Airways and merged with Brymon and British Regional Airlines to become BA CitiExpress, so the next couple of years was spent with the integration process as well as looking after the airworthiness of 82 aircraft.

On gaining a BSc in 2003 I was appointed a senior quality assurance engineer. Around the same time I became a BA fuel inspector, work that ended with the acquisition of BA Connect in 2007 by Flybe.

What do you do for Manhattan?

Manhattan Aviation Services is a small but very flexible aviation training company. As quality manager maintaining compliance and managing day -to-day quality issues are my primary responsibilities. I am now working towards gaining chartered engineer status.

How would you characterise your approach to the job?

As a quality auditor or manager you have to be able to challenge the status quo. However, tact is the order of the day. Everybody makes mistakes, but once they are identified I always adopt the pragmatic "let's sort it out" model, rather than playing the blame game.

I often get involved with interesting projects such as the development of CT On line, Manhattan Aviation Services' web-based answer to providing continuation training online 24/7.

How would you sell your profession to those looking for a great career in aviation?

I would recommend quality assurance as a career path to anyone who has good communication, people skills and a broad range of either aircraft operations or engineering experience.

Older: working to add chartered engineer status to his qualifications

Source: Flight International