Horizon Lead Technician Paul Skahill keeps planes flying on schedule

Paul Skahill, Horizon Air Lead Technician | Photos by Susan Ewbank

“Our maintenance guy came on board and did a great job,” said a Horizon Air pilot grateful for a timely, accurate maintenance diagnosis, and expeditious replacement of an aircraft component, announced to his plane full of guests in Seattle. Everyone clapped for Seattle Line Maintenance Lead Technician Paul Skahill, whose good work meant the flight could leave on time.

“I’m eager to get the job done—safely, and as quickly as possible,” says Skahill, who has been with Horizon since 2002. “I’m dedicated, and I’m picky. I want to ensure that everything gets done right.”

As a lead maintenance technician, Skahill oversees a team of six who handle whatever arises each day, as well as scheduled maintenance such as oil and tire changes. He seeks to ensure his team members’ success, including anticipating their needs.

Paul Skahill

“When a call comes in, I strive to determine from the description what the issue might be, and while the technician is assessing the situation at the aircraft, I go ahead and get the likely part delivered from the maintenance warehouse at the airport so that the part is all ready to go if I made a correct determination. I also have the step-by-step task in- formation ready for the technician. This helps get guests safely on their way sooner.”

Despite starting his day at 4 a.m., he often works late and on weekends to ensure optimal operations. He also often volunteers to fly out of town to work on planes, since the Seattle and Portland stations handle most major maintenance needs for Horizon’s E175s and Q400s.

Skahill’s been interested in aviation since he was a child watching from his bedroom window as planes landed in Seattle. After high school, he spent 14 years as an aircraft-parts machinist before getting his airframe-and-powerplant license and then joining Horizon on the advice of an airline employee who frequented the same gym he did.

“Horizon is a great place,” he says. “I like what I do, and I like the people.”

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

What do you enjoy about your job?
I like working on the planes, and I like to stay busy. As the lead, you field all the maintenance calls; schedule and delegate the work; and communicate with a lot of people, including at the station and in operations. I like that every day is different.

How do you define job success?
Getting planes out safely and on time, or at the very least, within our estimated time of return to service. Those are the top priorities of everybody on the team. We use a methodical step-by-step approach, per the manual. What we do is important to the safety of all our guests and the flight crews, and it needs to be done 100% correctly. When you get a plane back in service in a timely manner, and safely, it gives you a good feeling.

What do you do outside the job?
Working out is my fun. I go to the gym two or three times a week—it’s keeping your body tuned up, kind of like keeping your car tuned up. I’m also always busy working on our house, doing remodeling.

Where do you like to travel?
We go to Brazil every year to visit my wife’s family. I also like Hawai‘i, Cancún and San Diego for warm weather and the beach. I typically pack too much and then usually just end up wearing shorts the whole time.

PRAISE FOR PAUL

“Paul is a very experienced lead with a passion for ensuring things get done and get done right. His ability to lead and direct his team is top-notch. When there are challenges, Paul will be the first one to roll up his sleeves and go out to work side by side with his team. He will be the first person to help the operation during weather events, and will even pick up a shovel to remove snow to ensure our customers have a safe path leading from the aircraft to the terminal.” — George K., Horizon Vice President of Maintenance & Engineering, Seattle

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