820 Naval Air Squadron, Royal Navy

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Callum Gilbert is an Aircraft Engineering Technician (AET) within the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm employed on the Merlin Mk2 aircraft. His responsibilities included the safe conduct of all technical work on the aircraft, flight servicing and component replacements.

A very motivated and enthusiastic individual he volunteered for the NATO Exercise Joint Warrior 20-1 detachment in Scotland however due to the outbreak of COVID 19 the Squadron was reassigned to the OP RESCRIPT Aviation Task Force to support the UK Government’s response to the COVID pandemic.

The tasking required the unit to hold a 24/7 readiness state to transport COVID patients to hospitals around the South West. The workforce working routines were adjusted and smaller teams generated to minimise exposure to the virus. Gilbert adapted to the new working routines effortlessly and the reduced workforce enhanced his opportunity to conduct complicated maintenance tasks within his preference in mechanical trade.

Trialling a new aircraft decontamination procedure post the transportation of a COVID 19 patient, Gilbert provided comprehensive feedback on the most appropriate PPE to improve mobility, whilst retaining safety and achieve a satisfactory cleaning process. His assistance allowed the adaption of the procedure to enable the Squadron to have a workable and safe aircraft decontamination process. The procedure was endorsed across the Merlin Helicopter Force and implemented on a sister Squadron who acquired the role when 820 NAS was reassigned to support HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH’s Operational Sea Training (OST). 

COVID 19 significantly shaped Gilbert’s time on 820NAS, where he grew experience operating with a small workforce whilst maintaining a high readiness state in support of OP RESCRIPT, helped develop the COVID 19 decontamination procedure for the Merlin Mk2 aircraft and embarked in HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH for Operational Sea Training. Gilbert used every experience to increase his knowledge of the Merlin Mk2 operations and maintenance practices and really showcased what is achievable during a fast track apprentice AET’s Squadrons’ time.

In association with the armed forces (Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force)