CHC Australia - Spotlight On: Daniel Bannister, Senior Base Engineer, Amberley


June 21, 2024


Today we launch the first of our Australia ‘Spotlight On’ series – where we catch-up with engineers, pilots, air/rescue crew and other colleagues across CHC Helicopter to discuss their careers, and the role CHC plays in supporting the Department of Defence in Australia.

Introducing Daniel Bannister a Senior Base Engineer at our Amberley site.

Q: So Daniel, tell us about your role at CHC Helicopter?

A: We’re a tight team of 14 people at Amberley, that includes engineers, aircrew, and pilots.

I’m a Senior Base Engineer, which means my day-to-day involves ensuring the AW139 rescue helicopters are in optimal condition while collaborating with pilots and aircrew to keep operations running smoothly.

Before joining CHC Helicopter 13 years ago, I worked for a range of companies maintaining aircraft. Super Pumas with the Singaporean Air Force, UH-1H with an Australian defence force contract and Warbirds at Toowoomba airport with Aerotec, where I started my career.

Q: How do you and the team support Australia’s Department of Defence?

A: For 35 years, we’ve focused on supporting the Australian military – namely by running training exercises and actual search and rescue missions for military personnel; as well as search and rescue missions for members of the public.

At Amberley, we have a particularly strong reputation for strong heavy maintenance capability. When a helicopter needs a big service, it will often be sent here to be managed by our team and touring engineers.

We also have very high average availability of our aircraft being ready to fly here, at 99% of the time in 2023, and 98% in 2022, which is testament to how the flight operations and engineering teams work together.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?

A: We always have a good roster of interesting projects coming through, with longer-lead maintenance programmes that require very careful planning.

But the most enjoyable aspect for me is the people. This is a job that relies on teamwork. My team on the ground handle complex repair works for the helicopters. The crew going up in the air need the confidence that my engineering teams have done the job right – that the components are all in check and we’ve followed all safety protocols to the letter. Because as soon as they take off, they are literally trusting us with their lives.

We have a range of people and different styles of working are encouraged, but ultimately; we’re all focused on the same goal of flying safely. It’s a relationship that transcends that in any other workplace and really makes it an enjoyable and rewarding career.

Q: How does your work fit into Australia’s search and rescue operations?

A: Responding to emergency situations and knowing you’re playing a key role in keeping people safe is really motivating.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, one of our clients, is responsible for search and rescue operations covering a tenth of the globe’s surface, making it one of the biggest operations of its kind in the world. We are the only Australian operator approved to carry out auto hover operators to winch a stretcher from the water at night. That’s a huge responsibility and something all at CHC are proud to deliver.

Q: What else makes CHC stand out to you?

A: We have an industry-leading safety record in Australia and globally. We’re also able to standardise operations across bases nationwide, ensuring seamless collaboration and rapid integration of personnel when needed. We deliver the same services across bases but, for example, if we need extra support at Amberley, we can bring in experts from another base and instantly – we’ll be speaking the same language. This standardisation is a testament to CHC's operational excellence and readiness. Few can do that at our scale.

Q: What are the biggest challenges?

A: The practical helicopter maintenance itself is obviously a complex job that requires years of experience. But the hardest part is the operational side – ensuring that we have the right people and the right components across the supply chain to get the helicopters flying safely.

Complex servicing challenges can sometimes run over months and make up thousands of man hours. That requires a level of planning and adaptability that few can do well. I count us as one of them and while it’s a challenge, I’m incredibly proud when we’ve nailed a job that’s involved multiple teams and bases to get right.

Q: What skills and qualities do you need to succeed in the helicopter sector?

A: Passion, perseverance, patience, and teamwork are essential qualities for success in the aviation maintenance industry.

It’s not an easy job. It requires you to think on your feet, work to tight deadlines in a small area with a range of people. It certainly takes a type of person. The good thing at CHC is that we have the right team. I see it day to day when we bring in new people from different bases and we’re all speaking the same language.