Interior engineer’s main focus is overseeing the exterior maintenance of Alaska Airlines’ special paint schemes.

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Anthony Johnson

What do you do? I am an interiors engineer at Alaska Airlines and part of the team responsible for maintaining and improving Alaska Airlines’ aircraft cabins, which includes seats, lavatories, carpets, etc. My main focus is to oversee the exterior maintenance of Alaska Airlines’ special paint schemes such as the Salmon-Thirty-Salmon II, Spirit of Disneyland and Make-A-Wish planes.

How does someone get a job like yours?
I earned a bachelor in science in aerospace engineering from Wichita State University and started my career working as a ramp service agent at Oakland International Airport in California. I joined Alaska Airlines in 2007 as an engineer and drafter, and through the years have gradually learned new skills and gained more responsibility, which includes overseeing the aircraft painting.

What’s a typical day like? A typical day for me is working at my desk on various interiors projects like outfitting our new 737-900ERs with new, more spacious seats and supporting our maintenance technicians. When working on special paint themes, I typically travel to our paint vendor’s facility located in Oklahoma to oversee the final days of the paint application and ensure everything looks [good] and meets the Federal Aviation Administration and Alaska Airlines detailed standards. Most recently this involved overseeing the extremely complex painting of our Salmon-Thirty-Salmon plane, which we debuted in October 2012. For that paint theme, I paid special attention to things like paint thickness, quality of the application and accuracy of the overall livery and markings. This giant flying fish plane is one of the most elaborately designed planes in the world. We used 21 colors on the plane to create the fish, which included painting some 3,500 fish scales across the fuselage, a task that took a crew of eight 27 days to accomplish.

What’s the best part of the job? I am airplane enthusiast, so to be able to be around airplanes and have a hand in fixing or improving the planes we fly is awesome. I especially like working on special aircraft paint projects as the process, from initial concept and design, to finished product is an exciting and unique experience.

What surprises people about your job?
Most people are intrigued there is a whole engineering group at an airline dedicated to the interior of the aircraft. But when I talk about the responsibility for aircraft painting and share with them my experiences overseeing Alaska Airlines’ nine specially-designed planes, people are usually amazed by how much detail goes into creating these flying works of art.