Testia Experts: Leong Chee Hon, Responsible Level 3 Malaysia

In our article series “Testia Experts”, we present short interviews with our employees – the experts that really make Testia what it is. This time, we speak with Leong Chee Hon, Responsible Level 3 based in Malaysia, working for Testia APAC.

Can you describe your job as Testia Responsible Level 3 in Malaysia in 3 words?

Leong Chee Hon, Responsible Level 3 in Malaysia
I would describe my job at Testia in these 3 words: Autonomous, Fulfilment, Passion:

Autonomous, because in this job, I am given freedom to make technical decisions.

Fulfilment, because I know that I am directly contributing to the safety of aircraft via performing NDT inspections, as well as indirectly through giving training and providing technical consultancy related to NDT.

Passion, because I know I can perform my job with the best support available from Testia teams and the Airbus Group.

Since when do you work at Testia and what was your previous career path?

I have started my work as an NDT Level 3 Specialist at Testia APAC in December 2022. Before, I worked as NDT Level 3 for Sepang Aircraft Engineering (SAE) in Malaysia – with many previous jobs and experiences that lead me to my current position:

I have always been fascinated with aeroplanes and had always envisioned working with them in one way or another. The opportunity came in 1988, when I had the chance to go abroad and study engineering. Without much hesitation I decided to pursue my tertiary education in Aeronautical Engineering.

After graduation, the door was opened for me and I applied and was accepted as one of the Quality Assurance Inspectors for NDT at my home country’s national airline. The field of NDT was relatively new then and to have learnt and worked with the NDT pioneers in the company was indeed a blessing.

After more than 22 years in my first company, I then ventured to the Middle East and joined one of the major airlines Engine MRO as the engineer-in-charge for the NDT shop for 4.5 years, before I came back to East Asia and became a Responsible Level 3.

Which NDT methods are you accredited for? Do you have a favourite NDT method?

Leong Chee Hon performing an NDT inspection in a maintenance holeCurrently, I am holding NDT Level 2 certifications for PT, MT, ET and UT and I am also certified in NDT Level 3 for PT, MT, ET and UT. My experience with these methods reaches back more than 3 decades – I learned a lot of it during my time at Malaysia’s national airline, where I had the privilege to go for my level 3 certifications in MT and ET, which I later enhanced with UT and PT level 3.

ET is my favourite NDT method as it is considered the most versatile of NDT methods for aircraft and engine MRO activities. Eddy current testing enables me to inspect and detect a wide range of anomalies such as fatigue crack, corrosion and heat damage, or perform conductivity test, coating thickness measurement, as well as cladding check on the structures under inspection.

Tasks that I perform most often for MRO customers using ET include inspection on structures with cut-out edges and on fastener holes during structure repair, or assessing the surrounding areas for impact damage. Another common example is UT inspection on laminated areas of the upper and lower skin panels of aft flaps, to ensure no delamination before re-installation

What does a typical week of work look like for a Responsible Level 3 in Malaysia like yourself?

In a typical week, I review customers’ written practices and their in-house NDT work instructions before approving them. At times, I will be on customer’s site to perform audits on their NDT facility and system, and also conduct on-site NDT personnel proficiency review.

My job also includes giving technical guidance and approval on the usage of alternate NDT tools / materials to perform an inspection. Supporting customers during the aviation authority audit related to NDT is common, too.

Being qualified as a trainer and examiner, I also conduct NDT Level 2 and Level 3 training and qualification examinations for customers based on the EN 4179 requirements. Furthermore, holding various level 2 certifications allows me to perform and certify inspections.

Malaysia is your main area of activity – what does traveling and working in the country mean to you? And do you also work abroad?

Testia Asia-Pacific is currently supporting both component and airframe MRO customers, and many of these are international companies based in Malaysia. There are also a number of aero-structure manufacturers in Malaysia, whom we can support better now thanks to our local presence.

What I like about my job is that I can use my knowledge and experience to help the aviation industry to uphold the high standards of NDT by ensuring the right system, procedure and personnel are in place. My job allows me to continually grow my technical knowledge, to keep up with the latest inspection techniques, to meet and work with different people at different places in Malaysia and other countries such as Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam and Dubai.

I had one interesting encounter while being the NDT Level 3 for another company: Two auditors of a foreign national aviation authority met with our quality assurance engineer and had a rather long discussion with me regarding the NDT qualification and certification requirements under EN 4179 / NAS 410. That encounter allows me to see the greater need to share my knowledge and experience to benefit the aviation industry, especially in NDT.

Thanks for taking the time for this interview!

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