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Two Griffins holding a 74th shield.The Spirit of the 74th.

John Saunders.

Life After Halton.

John Saunders 588632.

Have just come across the 74th website. Below some basic information. I was part of the 74th Entry. 632 John Saunders Airframe. I retired from the RAF in November 1977 and apart from a two year stint at Aerospatiale in Toulouse have lived in Brisbane Australia since. Although well past retirement age I am still working for an airline. Keeps me occupied and they want to pay me.
John M Saunders

Photograph: John Saunders.

[Photo: John in Caloundra 100 kls North of Brisbane Xmas 2006]


I was born in Birchington Kent, United Kingdom in 1937, spending the war years between the Kent Coast and London.
Having studied engineering at Technical College in the early 1950's, I joined the Royal Air Force as an Aircraft Apprentice at RAF Halton in 1953, where I remained for 3 years.

After Halton Bassingbourn for Twelve Months Then to Australia.

My first visit to Australia was in 1957 when I was posted to 542 RAF Squadron operating out of RAAF Laverton, Victoria. It was during this time I met my future wife Patricia in Brisbane. I returned to the United Kingdom in 1959 and we married in 1960. We have one daughter Karen, born in 1963 and one granddaughter (eleven).

From January 1964 until September 1966, during the Indonesian Confrontation, I was based with a fighter squadron at Butterworth in Malaysia, living in Penang with my family.

Return to the UK.

On return to the United Kingdom I was posted to the RAF Transport Command and became a Travelling Ground Engineer on the four engine turbo-prop Britannia aircraft, completing over 2000 flying hours world-wide in a period of eight years. During this time I was part of crews selected to fly prominent British and Foreign Government Officials, including a) Prince Charles to Gibraltar, b) the Prime Minister of Rhodesia Ian Smith to Gibraltar for talks with the United Kingdom Prime Minister Harold Wilson, c) on a number of occasions the Prime Minister of Malta to Rome for talks with United Kingdom Government official, d) the Governor of Hong Kong on a South Pacific tour of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and New Guinea. e.) International Staff College members to Cyprus. Iran, India. Pakistan, Kashmir, Bangladesh & Nepal.

Aircraft Technician, Retirement in 1977 and Back to Brisbane.

Selected as an Aircraft Technician in late 1972, and with my duties as a Britannia Trade Specialist became a Mentor for the first group of aircraft technicians passed out of Halton.

In 1974 I was promoted Flight Sergeant and became Team Manager of the VC10 aircraft Major Overhaul. I retired from the RAF in October 1977 and returned with my wife and daughter to Brisbane.

I was employed in General Aviation for the first two and a half years during which time I completed my exams for CAA type licences. In 1980 I was employed by BPA/Air Queensland and became responsible for the quality control of the Brisbane operation with the introduction of the Ansett leased F27 aircraft.
From July 1985 to September 1986 I was the Air Queensland Engineering Representative at Aerospatiale in Toulouse France for the purchase of the ATR42 Aircraft.

A Time of Changes.

When Air Queensland closed, I was employed as a Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (LAME) with Pacific Aviation for one year and then as Assistant Engineering Manager with Flight West Airlines for a further year.

I commenced employment with Ansett Australia in September 1989 as Inspector for the Maintenance Support Group at Brisbane (now Heavy Maintenance). In May 1993, this position changed to Quality Assurance Rep.- Standards, responsible for all Ansett Engineering facilities in Queensland. After CAA training and completing the required C of A's under supervision I was issued with a CAR 24 Instrument of Appointment in October 1996.

In 1998 after further training as a result of the introduction of CASA 1998 Regulation Part 21 my Instrument of Appointment as an Authorised Person was reissued for CASR1998 Part 21.176 for the issue of Certificates of Airworthiness and 21.200 for the issue of Special Flight Permits. During my time with QA at Ansett I have been trained as a Lead Auditor, also on NT. Lotus Notes, Access and QMF.

A Time of Travel.

Employment with Ansett QA has taken me to Europe and South America for aircraft assessment, and to Taiwan and Korea to set up the Initial International station for ramp maintenance. My major task of auditing covered on a scheduled basis OOL, TSV, CNS, MKY BNE Line Maintenance and BNX Heavy Maintenance, and any other area as required including Bali. Taipei. Seoul and local outside vendors. I was made redundant by Ansett Australia on 30th March 2001.

Virgin Blue Airlines

On the 1st April 2001 I joined Virgin Blue Airlines in Brisbane as the Corporate Quality Assurance Manager. Since joining Virgin Blue Airlines I have been reissued by CASA with an Instrument of Appointment 21.176 & 21.326 for the issue of Certificates of Airworthiness and Export Certificates of Airworthiness. My major task is the development of a Quality System across the company, which is monitored by periodic audits, suggesting, and implementing improvements to ensure a quality culture is live across the airline. From a beginning of six aircraft, Virgin Blue now operates 63 aircraft, 51 NG B737-700 and 800, 12 Embraer 170/190 aircraft. Staff have increased from 690 in April 2001 to approx. 4000 in 2008. our eighth birthday was the 31st August 2008. I have a team of five permanent auditors and five contract auditors. Although my prime task is the audit programme, I still occasionally issue Certificates of Airworthiness on new aircraft Seattle OCT/ NOV 2007 on behalf of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and still hold a current Airframe and Engine licence on a number of aircraft including the B737.

My Qualifications.

Before leaving the United Kingdom, I completed the City & Guilds London Institute Aeronautical Engineering Technicians Certificate 258 Part III. I also obtained the Council of National Academic Awards UK, Post Graduate Diploma in Management Studies including Production Management, Statistics, Computing, Industrial Psychology, Financial Control, Inventory Control and Marketing. I am an Associate Member of the Royal Aeronautical Society UK (AMRAeS), and an Incorporated Engineer of the UK Council of Engineering Institutes, (I.Eng CEI)

Interests etc.

My spare time activities include, home renovation, golf, cricket and reading. I attained Australian Citizenship in July 1984.

John Saunders (74th).

Sadly, John died March 2010

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