GE would not be the company it is today without its employees. From working mothers to U.S. military veterans, GE has a diverse team that should be recognized and celebrated. So, we created a series called the “Quick Six”—six questions we are asking employees to help us learn about their talents and backgrounds. Together, GE works.

In our next installment of Quick Six, we sat down with Carlos Duenas, lead mechanic at GE Aviation Flight Test Operations, located in Victorville, California.

Tell us about your role at GE Aviation.

I am what you call an A&P, an Airframe and Powerplant mechanic. I am a lead mechanic and also an inspector. When the engine comes in, I work to prep and install it. We install the engine, bring it up and torque it. I am also a borescope inspector. Borescope – for those who don’t know – is an inspection through cameras inside the engine. We go into the engine to see if there is any damage within the compressor itself or in the combustor.

I’ve been here with the facility since 2003. Previously I was with GE Ontario.

Did you always want to be a mechanic?

I didn’t know I was mechanically inclined until my mom sent me to the Air Force. I started my career as a mechanic in the Air Force. I went through my year of studies about airframes, systems, hydraulics, everything. After that, I became a helicopter mechanic and went to a specialized course in Panama.

To me, helicopters are the best flying machine ever. You’ve got the freedom to stop at any point in time in flight.

Also, I did a lot of flying because I was a vibration analyst for the helicopter. Every time we changed the blades, or we changed the rotor, we had to go in flight and track the blades and see where they were pathing and check the vibrations, so I did quite a bit of flying. I did the same thing with tail rotors as well.

Airframe and powerplant mechanic Carlos Duenas on the wheel of the 747 Flying Test Bed.

 

You have a real love for helicopters. Do you find them superior to airplanes, now that you’ve worked on both?

Not superior, really. Every machine is designed to perform the way it is supposed to perform. Fixed wing is supposed to fly like a fixed wing. A hummingbird, it is supposed to hover. A hawk is supposed to fly high. That’s the way it is. It’s like a little car versus a big truck, one is not necessarily better than the other, they just do different things.

Flight Test Operations is arguably one of the coolest locations at GE Aviation, with the Flying Test Bed located here and all the test flight originating from here. What’s something you find particularly interesting about working here?

One of the things that I personally got to be a part of was with the airplane itself. This is our second Flying Test Bed airplane, and we took this airplane to Taiwan to have a modifications done inside the wing. What they did is they took off the rib — or pylon — that is on top of the number two engine, the one that gives the strength for the engine to be mounted on the wing. And they pulled all the guts out of the wing and put in new, bigger ones back inside. I spent about three to four months in Taipei, Taiwan, watching it all come together. I had to watch every rivet that was pulled off, every rivet that was installed. I was there to oversee everything, mostly as an inspector.

It was a neat experience.

What are some of the other things you work on at Flight Test Operations?

There are a lot of little things in the facility that I come up with ideas on how to make them better. I have created stuff to accommodate bringing the heat shields to the engines, for example. They’re not flat, they’re not square, they have awkward configurations, so it is awkward to bring them up to the airplane via forklift. So I came up with a jig for it so that when we bring it up, it comes up flat. Otherwise, they’re heavy, they’re about 300 pounds, so we need more than a few people to bring them up. Little things like that, tooling types of things, I do regularly to make our jobs easier on a daily basis.

What do you like to do outside of work?

Most of my time is dedicated to spiritual life. My wife and I do faith-based marriage counseling. Our hands are pretty full with it. We were recruited for it by one of our mentors. There is no perfect marriage, but it can get better through spiritual enhancement, so we decided to pursue it and get trained for it.

Mechanic Carlos Duenas.

 

Did you know Quick Six is a series? Read our previous features: