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Team of Machinists Brings Home Honors for Boeing

A team of aircraft maintenance technicians working for Boeing won its division at the AMT Society's annual skills contest. All are Machinists Union members.

SEATTLE – A team of Machinists Union members who work at the Boeing Co. won top honors in its category at the AMT Society’s annual maintenance skills competition for aircraft maintenance technicians.

In addition, two individual Machinists recorded the best times in their individual events at the contest.

“All the guys did outstanding,” said Joe Fancella, an Everett flightline mechanic who helped organize Boeing’s team. “They all came in with excellent times.”

In all 27 teams from three different countries competed in this year’s contest, which was held in Las Vegas in March.

The Boeing team finished first among in the OEM/MRO category for employees of aircraft manufacturers and maintenance, repair and overhaul companies.

The five-member group — Sam Nelson, Andrew Ortbahn, Barry Pelton, Jon Renaud and team captain Phil Haldeman – successfully completed 16 different events that tested licensed airplane maintenance technicians in categories ranging from avionics and electrical repairs to engine servicing to composites repair.

Individually, Renaud had the best time of all competitors in trouble-shooting and repairing an external power receptacle, while Pelton had the best time in an event devised by the Boeing team itself – testing an electrical panel to find the badly bonded connections built into it.

Their scores represented a combination of fastest times to complete the task and fewest errors, Fancella said. Judges in each event “were looking for quality.”

The five member team represented the “best of the best” of the licensed AMTs working on Boeing flightlines around Puget Sound, said Fancella, who along with George Thompson traveled to the contest as a judge.

“The guys who went down there to compete had to know general knowledge of just about every kind of aircraft situation,” Fancella said.

All five were peer-selected from the licensed AMTs on Boeing’s flight lines last summer, and they met on their own time for a couple hours each week to practice in the months leading up to the event.

While the team was sponsored by Boeing, it had “excellent support” from the Machinists Union, Fancella said, and the group sported custom Machinists Union District Lodge 751 hooded sweatshirts during their Las Vegas trip.

“We’re very proud of our members on the AMT skills team,” said District 751 President Tom Wroblewski. “I often talk about the high skill level of our Machinists Union members and when I do, these expert mechanics are exactly the kind of workers I’m talking about. Boeing is lucky to have them as employees, and we’re proud to be their fellow Machinists.”

Originally formed in 1935 to represent hourly workers at Boeing, District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers now represents more than 31,000 working men and women across Washington, Oregon and California. In December, District 751 members ratified a four-year contract extension with Boeing that ensured the 737 MAX will be built in Puget Sound.

For more information about District 751, read the Machinists News.

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