Spotlight on: Albert iLunga, Capability Development

We caught up with Design and Certification Engineer Albert iLunga, who joined the 2Excel Capability Development Team in June 2019, to learn more about his role within the company.

Albert, how did it all start?

“Growing up, I had a keen interest in aviation despite the fact the first time I got close to/onboard an aircraft as a passenger was in February 2007; which still feels very recent to me. Before that, I simply admired the flying buses from the ground and fast Jets from magazines and books.

“Having been brought up on a farm, I had a lot of exposure to auto repairs, tinkering with bikes and making things work, which I think is where I got ‘engineering’ from. But regarding aviation, at the age of 14 my parents got me an experience flight on a DA40 at Shoreham and from then on, I was hooked. I continued flying, took an aerospace degree and along the way met and worked with some amazing and adventurous individuals who continually made the industry seem so exciting, regardless of how long they been in the game.

“As part of my degree in 2016, I took a placement year at Leading Edge Engineering Design (LEED) working on civil large engine tooling. The design team there were very supportive and gave me a more in-depth appreciation and foundation for design. I knew I liked airplanes, I like flying and I like design/making things work. Slowly my career chose/is choosing me.

“I graduated with a BSc (Hons) Aerospace Technology with Pilot Studies from university of Hertfordshire.”

What are your biggest career accomplishments and challenges to date?

“This is a tough question considering I am still in the early stages of my career. Generally, the fact that I have worked and continue to work on different projects producing solutions which are being used to maintain, operate and service aircraft flying today is a very big accomplishment for me.”

How did you hear about 2Excel? And what encouraged you to apply for a job with the company?

“I’d heard of 2Excel through my work at LEED and knew the design team were involved in design, certification, production, and flight testing of aircraft. When I started considering moving from my placement/graduate position, naturally I threw my eyes on the 2Excel careers page which happened to have a trainee design post available. I applied, came up for an interview which involved a look around the DOA, POA and MOA with the 727, some Navajos and King Airs crowded in the hangar. Sacha and the team explained the process from concept through to service and how the designers are involved. I apparently made as good of an impression on them as they did on me. I was made an offer for the position which I took and started a few months later.”

Tell us more about your day-to-day job

“In my day to day, I work closely with different teams to come up with design changes/solutions which are certified, manufactured, and installed ready for release to service. From the start of a project as part of the design team we come up with a solution to a set of requirements. Together with the procurement team, we make sure we can actually get the materials and parts we need to make it all work. Once the design and certification paperwork is complete, it’s sent to the POA/MOA via CAM to be made and fitted. Since the design is not always based on precise data and measurements, I work alongside the production and maintenance team getting their support to make sure everything fits as intended and looks great too (at least in my opinion).

“The challenge and fun aspect of the role is producing something that fits on an aircraft in places which are often difficult to measure and for which no design data is available. All whilst ensuring the design meets the regulation requirements and is therefore certifiable. Everyone involved is supportive and helpful, so it’s easy to enjoy the whole process.”

Outside of work, what hobbies do you enjoy?

“I like to think I’m a sportsman. Having moved around for work, training, and education I make sure to have either my road bike, my squash racquet or access to the nearest sports gym at all times.”

What advice would you give to the younger generation about a career in aviation, in your field?

“It seems very early for me to be giving career advice since I’m still trying out my own and other people’s advice. But if anything, I have two:

“First is that from my short experience in aviation/aerospace, the industry is vast with many areas/aspects. What makes my job interesting is the fact it combines and brings together some of the most exciting and novel areas.

“The second is having good mentors/supervisors, which has been and continues to be extremely helpful to me in my development. I know we don’t always get to pick the teams and mentors but make sure to surround yourself with good mentors and support team if you can.”

Adrian Thurley, 2Excel Aviation’s Boeing 727 Captain

2Excel employs a highly qualified team of ex-military and civilian aviation professionals to complete challenging and rewarding roles within our Special Missions department.

In celebration of National Careers Week, Special Mission’s Captain, Adrian Thurley, looks back to when his career first took off. He recalls his commendable 45-year career in this interview.

Adrian speaks openly about how, and when he thought his flying career was coming to an end, an opportunity with 2Excel kick-started a new chapter, flying the company’s Boeing 727 oil spill response aircraft at 150ft above the sea.

‘‘I landed my last flight with Virgin, inbound from Hong Kong, on Friday 10 May 2019, and joined 2Excel the following Monday!”Captain Adrian Thurley.

Read on to find out more.

“I followed in the footsteps of my father and grandfather – both RAF mechanics – engineering fascinated me at the time so I started my flying career in the Royal Air Force.

“I spent two decades flying fast jets from February 1975 to February 1994. During this time, I was very proud to lead the RAF Red Arrows between 1991 and 1993 and spent part of my career as a Weapons Instructor on the Hawk. I was lucky to fly a variety of aircraft; the Buccaneer was fabulous at low level high speed. The Hunter was just so nicely balanced. The Gnat was difficult but an awesome experience nonetheless. However, my favourite was the Hawk – an absolute joy to fly and exhilarating.

“On retiring from the military, I joined Virgin Atlantic as a commercial pilot, where I flew long-haul and visited some beautiful destinations. Over the years, I trained on a number of different Boeing and Airbus aircraft and my Type Ratings include the B747-200, B747-400, A340-300, A340-600, B787 and B777. The B747 was brilliant in all weathers and the B787 comes equip with some fantastic technology and so quiet.

“As my last year with Virgin Atlantic approached, I didn’t feel ready for retirement and my desire was to stay flying. I knew of 2Excel and spoke with company director, Andy Offer, about the prospect of flying the B727 which sounded like the challenge I was after.

“I joined 2Excel in May 2019 and I’m now based at our site in Doncaster Sheffield Airport. Everything about this job makes it both challenging and rewarding.  The B727 is the only large aircraft I’ve had the chance to fly properly and at a very low level. Teamwork is absolutely crucial to the division’s success and that is something I have enjoyed for many, many years. The team provides an essential 24/7 service to our customer Oil Spill Response, and there is zero room for error. To be able to deliver what the customer requires as accurately and professionally as we continue to demonstrate makes me extremely proud to be a part of the team.

“Looking back over my 40 years of flying, I have many rewarding and unforgettable moments that come to mind. My most cherished accomplishments would be spending six years in the RAF Red Arrows, flying my first civilian aircraft, the B747, and the first time I commanded on the B747. And, of course, flying the B727 with 2Excel which I hope to do for many more years.


“Thank you 2Excel for adding another chapter to my career when it looked like I might have to retire!”




Adrian, what advice would you give to the younger generation about a career in aviation?

“Get your flying training in the military if possible. If this isn’t for you, then have a back-up career in mind. Private training and tuition are very expensive and sometimes makes the route into flying impossible for young people.”