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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Youth Force
Sky's the limit for aviation technician

By Stephen Baldwick
Special to The Sun

The thunder of a flypast at an air show is unforgettable. To see, hear and feel the world's best aircraft scream by in a flash of speed and skill can be a riveting experience. For Lydia Kaznowski it was no different. At her first air show she was stoked, she was psyched -- and she was seven.
Lydia Kaznowski, a Centennial College Aviation Technician student, has been keenly interested in airplanes since attending her first airshow at the age of seven.

"I remember Hercules aircraft, Stealth fighters. I was amazed. I never missed an air show after that," says Kaznowski, who is now finishing her final semester in the Aviation Technician (Aircraft Maintenance) program at Centennial College.

As she got older, Kaznowski knew her fascination with flight was no passing fancy. "I wanted to work with aircraft, that just wasn't going away," she says. "It was either fly them or fix them, that was going to be me."

While at high school at Etobicoke's Bishop Allen Academy, Kaznowski was considering life as a pilot. During the OAC year her direction was turbo-boosted toward aircraft maintenance by way of a co-op placement at Toronto Island Airport. She made the six-month experience especially rewarding by asking for work, and lots of it.

"When I was first there, I did front-desk work: booking aircraft, doing logbooks. After a while I got bored with that, so I asked the director of maintenance if I could go work out back," she says.

"I got to participate in a 1,000-hour inspection, a complete tear-down of an aircraft over two weeks. That was an awesome

experience that doesn't come around too often for a high school student."

Kaznowski learned that three people she'd been working with at the island airport were graduates of Centennial's Aircraft Maintenance program. She was told to expect an intense learning experience in the first year of the two-year diploma program. She enrolled right away.

"First year is quite demanding. We cover 18 complete courses the first year," Kaznowski says, "so it's not something you go into lightly. You develop discipline; you have to keep on top of the reading. It all pays off in second year, believe me."

Kaznowski even made her reading week pay off this year by taking part in "job shadowing" at Air Canada.
  • Centennial's two-year Aviation Technician program has three distinct streams: Aircraft Maintenance, Avionics Maintenance and Flight Simulator Technology.
  • All students take a "common core" module in the first year, then specialize in one of the three disciplines in the second year.
  • Transport Canada grants students in the Aircraft and Avionics streams up to 18 months credit towards their Aircraft Maintenance Engineer's licence.
  • The Flight Simulator stream is unique in Canada, preparing students to repair and maintain these highly complex machines used by airlines around the world.
  • For more information, visit www.centennial co

  • "We worked four midnight shifts with an Air Canada crew," she says, "working on Airbus 320s and 340s, a Boeing 767. We did an engine change, a cargo bay inspection, even a high-power engine run. The crews were amazing, very helpful and informative. I really enjoyed it."

    A significant project this year involved the college's acquisition of a Beechcraft KingAir, the world's most popular turboprop aircraft.

    "It arrived in parts and the class re-assembled it," Kaznowski says. "It had been converted from regular turbine engines to Orenda piston engines. The next graduating class will get to run it."

    "Full circle"

    When asked to evaluate her college experience, Kaznowski is emphatic. "These last two years have brought everything around full-circle for me, confirmed for me that this is what I want to do. Yet I knew it from the beginning. Any unanswered questions I had about my direction have been resolved."

    After graduation, Kaznowski intends to complete a general aviation apprenticeship back at Toronto Island Airport.

    Normally a 48-month process, she wants to reduce it to 36 months by graduating with accreditation.

    From there, she plans to go on to employment "with a commercial airline that has Boeing or Airbus aircraft."

    It's a cliche, but given what Kaznowski has already accomplished at Centennial, her sky could actually be limitless.

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