‘Passion is priceless’ for AME scholarship winner

James Gaha in the workshop

A ‘can-do’ work ethic and a positive outlook has allowed James Gaha to excel in his career. He has worked hard to establish a reputation as a great engineer. ‘I’ve always strived for greatness and tried my hardest to be the best,’ he says.

James has received one of our 2022 aviation mechanical engineers’ (AME) scholarships. It provides $5,000 financial to encourage and assist promising AMEs in their training and help them achieve a Part 66 CASR licence.

James has been a mechanic and aircraft enthusiast for as long as he can remember.

‘As a teenager, I really enjoyed working on cars and motorbikes which has all led to where I am today,’ he says.

He started out as a Qantas apprentice and now works at Jet Aviation at Bankstown Airport as a B1.3 licenced aircraft maintenance engineer (LAME), after stints at both Sikorsky Australia and Airbus Helicopters Australia.

‘When I first started in engineering, I wasn’t really confident and I was kind of shy,’ he says.

‘But I think working in aircraft maintenance has actually brought me out of my shell.’

James enjoys rotorcraft maintenance work, which he finds more interesting than working on fixed-wing.

‘There’s a lot more troubleshooting and, I think, there’s more difficulty when it comes to working on helicopters such as rotor alignment and tracking, balancing, as well as vibration analysis,’ he says.

As his career progresses, one of the most important things he has learned along the way is to adopt a ‘can-do’ and positive attitude. ‘I always used to tell my previous manager at Sikorsky Australia that “skills are cheap, passion is priceless” – that has really stuck with me throughout my career,’ he says.

‘If you don’t have those attributes in this industry, it’s very difficult to get along with your colleagues and clients and progress your career at the same time.

‘I always say to myself, “If you put your mindset to it, you can achieve greatness” and that’s what I try to demonstrate to my colleagues on a daily basis.’

James is using his CASA scholarship towards a Bell 412/212 PT6T type rating course.

‘Working in both the defence and civil sectors, I’ve accomplished a lot already in my career such as promotions, completing various type courses and lots of travel,’ he says.

‘One of my greatest achievements was getting posted to Singapore on a 14-month trip to modify S-70 Bravo Helicopters for the Singaporean Airforce – it really was the opportunity of a lifetime.

‘I would definitely recommend a career as an aircraft engineer as it has made me who I am today.’