Interview with an Aircraft Engineer

Ten Minutes with Lakshminarayana Cavala

Lakshminarayana, otherwise known as Sai, was born in Chennai, India. Chennai is the 30th largest city in the world, with a population of 11.2 million. Lakshminarayana was given the name Sai by his grandmother Sidhalakshmi. During his birth, the family were worried about his survival. Sai has not only survived, but is also thriving as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer for Kenn Borek.

What led you to Engineering?

I initially wanted to become a pilot, but due to the cost I chose to study engineering instead, enrolling in engineering at Confederation College, Thunder Bay, Ontario. As it turns out, I am very happy to have chosen this path as employment is unaffected by the pandemic, I have new challenges every day and a wide variety of work. Even carrying out the same servicing each day is different due to what needs adjustment, repair and replacement.

What are your career highlights so far?

Working in the high Arctic and now the bottom of the world in Antarctica is a highlight. I am based in Edminton, Alberta, but travel all over depending on where I am required.

Just to get to Davis station Antarctica, Sai has flown from Calgary - Vancouver - Punta Arenas - Puerto Natales (2 weeks quarantine, one week of poor weather) - Rothera - South Pole - McMurdo station - Casey station - Davis station. Getting home will consist of around eighty hours of flying.

What are some challenges you face?

Working in minus 54°Celsius at the South Pole. Making tiny adjustments to get the correct fuel metering involves taking your gloves off. In those temperatures your hands do not work too well. We also have limited resources available and must work with what we have. I have not had to fix an aircraft with washing machine parts....yet.

If you had to choose another career, what would it be?

I would choose to be a wildland firefighter. These firefighters work around the world, fighting fierce fires that are due to climate change. I admire their courage and skill and believe they must be off-their-rocks to be so brave to jump into these fires and fight them.

Who is your Hero?

That is easy, my mum, Bhama. I admire everything about her. I admire her kindness, she is always there for me, I can talk to her about anything. She is the best cook I know and although I have learnt so much, I know there is so much more to learn from her. No one can beat her cooking. She can turn any ingredients into a tasty meal.

Favourite Country you have visited so far?

New Zealand. I absolutely loved Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound. The waterfalls Otherworldly and Ethereal were magnificent. Boating in the sounds and “kissing the mountain”, where the boat goes right to the foot of the mountain.

If you could change something and make a difference, what would it be?

Take care of the person to the left and to the right of you. Don’t focus so much on yourself.