Spotlight On… Mark Eccleston, Paint Shop Supervisor

Mark Eccleston – 2Excel’s Paint Shop Supervisor

Next up in the 2Excel Engineering Back Shop series, the spotlight is focusing on our Paint Shop, which plays an important role in the overall maintenance check of an aircraft. From aircraft snagging to complete livery overhauls, the Paint Shop’s expertise and attention to detail is essential to upholding the quality of aircraft checks.

One of 2Excel Engineering’s advantages is our ability to complete tasks in-house, as opposed to outsourcing to a third party. This gives us much greater control of our outputs. The Paint Shop orders in the materials for each individual job, as different checks require different amounts and types of materials. These are stored on site, alongside the different equipment required, such as sanders, hoovers, spray guns – to name a few.

Mark Eccleston, 2Excel’s Paint Shop Supervisor, tells us more about his role and 2EE’s Paint Shop department.

Why did you get into the aviation industry?

‘I did a four-year apprenticeship which involved painting cars when I left school and after that I got into the aircraft industry. I’ve never looked back.

‘When I first started in this industry, I loved working on vintage aeroplanes such as Hurricanes, Spitfires, the lot! Then I got into this game and I’ve been here at Lasham for 28 years or so.’

Tell us a little bit more about your role.

‘If there are snags found on the aircraft and the part can be taken off the aeroplane, like flying controls for example, then they come up to the paint shop. My job is to go through the maintenance manuals and use the appropriate paints and materials to do the job.’

The Paint Shop is essential throughout the whole check. Paint material provides sharp presentation but it also affects the weight and balance of the aeroplane, which means it needs to be completely accurate, making it a very important job.

‘Image is everything; an aircraft needs to look top quality otherwise people won’t want to get on-board. Paint is used on aeroplanes for protection and prevention of corrosion. Anything with bare metal on an aeroplane is an Airworthiness problem, it has to be covered with primer and topcoat for protection.’

What do you enjoy about your job?

‘I like all of it to be honest, I do different things every day which I enjoy. At the moment, I’m doing a few touch ups but the jobs do vary from day-to-day.’

Pictured – a project in which Mark was working on recently.

Meet our new Improver Mechanics


2Excel Engineering (2EE) opened the hangar doors to four apprentices in 2017, the year that the company’s Apprenticeship Scheme launched. Fast-forward to autumn this year and our hardworking apprentices graduated with offers of employment.  

With support from Fareham College, a total of 16 apprentices are going through the current training scheme, with four apprentices – Cameron, Bradley, Max and Callum – graduating in October this year.  

2Excel Engineering’s CEO, Chris Norton OBE DFC, said: All four of them haveworked very hard during their training over the past three years and, even as apprentices,they’ve had a hugely positive impact on our business. On behalf of thewhole 2EE family, I wish our graduates the best of luck in their careers with us.  They all have a bright future ahead of them.’’ 

Cameron Aldridge, Callum Jeffery, Bradley Hamilton and Max Wood are now permanent, full-time employees. We spoke to our new recruits about their 2Excel Engineering journey from Apprentice to Improver Mechanic.

 A Q&A with Cameron Aldridge 

Cameron, aged 22 and from Stubbington in Hampshire, heard of our Apprenticeship Scheme through his college course at CEMAST.

Why are you interested in aviation engineering?  

I’ve always had a passion for engineering and with a new engineering college opening in my area, I took the opportunity to study it. 

What was the most interesting task you have undertaken during your apprenticeship? 

I have been involved in many different types of tasks during my apprenticeship, however if I was to choose the most interesting, I would have to say sheet metal repair jobs. 

Have you enjoyed your time at 2Excel Engineering? If so, why?  

Yes, I have enjoyed my time here because I have gained experience in each area of the company and been heavily involved in heavy maintenance tasks, which for an apprenticeship, is very rare. 

What have been your main highlights during your time at 2EE?  

‘One of my main highlights was being involved so heavily on the shop floor. Getting stuck into engine removals/installations, component changes and so on. 

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?  

‘I’d like to be finishing my B1 licence and progressing within the company. 

Who is your biggest inspiration? Who do you look up to?  

I always look up to people with more experience who are willing to show me the way forward and the people at 2EE have done this.’ 

Congratulations on your new roleCameron!

A Q&A with Bradley Hamilton 

Bradley, aged 21 and from Portsmouth, also heard about the scheme through his work experience at CEMAST College.  

Why are you interested in aviation engineering?   

‘I have always been interested in aircraft in general and the practical aspect of the work. The most interesting task I’ve undertaken during this apprenticeship was the spray boom attachment modification on both of the Oil Spill Response aircraft. 

Have you enjoyed your time at 2Excel Engineering? If so, why?   

‘Yes, very much. The level and range of skillset is hard to beat and learning from everyone here has been a great experience.’ 

What have been your main highlights during your time at 2EE? 

‘I’ve loved being heavily involved in big jobs and trusted in the wider skillset areas such as sheet metal work and modification.’ 

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?   

‘I see myself having finished my B1 licence and gaining experience with different aircraft types.’ 

Who is your biggest inspiration? Who do you look up to?   

‘I look up to the mentors and Leadership Team that had the confidence in me as an apprentice to do work on the more technical jobs independently. I feel this has helped me massively and if I get the opportunity to become a mentor, I will teach in the same way that I have been taught.’ 

Congratulations on your new roleBradley! 

A Q&A with Max Wood 

Max, aged 21 and from Bishops Waltham, heard about the Apprenticeship Scheme whilst completing work experience at CEMAST College.  

How did you get into the aviation industry? 

Originally, I was interested in developing my understanding of how aircraft operate and over my time at 2Excel Engineering, this has developed into a desire to maintain them to allow them to fly safely. 

What has been the most interesting task you have carried out? 

‘The most interesting task I took part in during my apprenticeship was when I had the opportunity to help a team with an engine replacement on a Boeing 757. 

Have you enjoyed your time at 2Excel Engineering? Have you got any highlights? 

‘Very much so, I have been able to work on something that has always interested me and I feel I have gained a very good understanding of how the industry operates. The main highlight of my time at 2Excel has been working with a team of skilled engineers to better my skills and knowledge of the aircraft industry and how each aircraft operates. 

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? 

In five years’ time, I’m hoping to be well on my way to completing my modules, which will allow me to carry out large tasks with my own team of engineers. 

Congratulations on your new roleMax! 

A Q&A with Callum Jeffery 

Callum, aged 23 and from Camberley, was an employee at 2Excel Engineering and when he heard that an Apprenticeship Scheme was starting, he expressed his interest to join. Callum was the winner of our ‘Lasham Blade’ Award presented by the members of the 2Excel Leadership Team. This accolade was presented to him for his above-and-beyond commitment to his apprenticeship and to supporting the company.  

Why are you interested in aviation engineering? 

From a young age, I have always been interested in aviation and engineering. I’ve always enjoyed learning about engineering and how things work, and with my passion for aviation I knew aircraft maintenance was the career path for me. 

What was the most interesting task you have undertaken during your apprenticeship? 

The most interesting tasks I have undertaken at 2Excel are structural repairs. These tasks are so varied and unique, which has helped me gain a better understanding of aircraft structures and I’ve enjoyed carrying out these tasks. 

Have you enjoyed your time at 2Excel Engineering? 

I have really enjoyed my time at 2EE so far, I have worked with a great team of people who have supported me. 2Excel Engineering’s Apprenticeship Scheme has dedicated a lot of time and commitment to me to help me gain valuable skills, knowledge, and confidence to become an Aircraft Engineer.

My main highlights during my time at 2EE are the fun moments I’ve had working with my friends. 2Excel has a great team of people who create a fun, enjoyable work atmosphere.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? 

In five-years’ time, I’d like to progress to lead mechanic within the company and look to gain my B1 licence. 

Who is your biggest inspiration? Who do you look up to? 

I’ve always looked up to my grandad. He brought me into aviation from a young age and has always passed down lots of his aviation knowledge to me, inspiring me to follow a career path in the industry. 

Congratulations on your award and new role, Callum! 

To find out more about our Apprenticeship Scheme, visit our Careers Page.

Spotlight On… Ryan Langley, Calibration Engineer

Job role: Calibration Engineer Trainee

The 2Excel Engineering Calibration Back Shop is integral to supporting the engineers working on the hangar floor to ultimately ensure aircraft is released to customers on time. 

The Calibration team enables the engineers to have access to equipment and tools needed to complete repair and maintenance tasks. Crucially, the team oversees that this equipment is performing to the highest standard and reads the correct measurements to ensure that the engineers can do their job accurately.

 We caught up with Calibration Engineer Trainee, Ryan Langley, about his role and the department:

‘I joined 2Excel in November 2017, but I started with Calibration at the end of March this year. Recently, I’ve been busy with lifting and GSE (Ground Safety Equipment) inspections as well as Aircraft Jacks. Due to COVID-19, I’ve also been doing some online training, but I’m looking forward to attending training courses when permitted.  I enjoy learning on the job and I’m enjoying my role so far but there’s a lot to learn. I have great support from the Avionics team, and our COO Matt Caswell. 

‘Calibration, in our line of work, means measurement. For example, you have to make sure that the torque wrenches are reading exactly the same as what they are expected to be, gauges need to be incredibly accurate and we make sure they are not reading anything different to what they should be. As part of my role, I will check our equipment is reading correctly because for example, if someone over-tightens a bolt on an aircraft this could cause damage later on.

It’s only when we’re 100% satisfied with the tool that we will release it to the engineers. If a tool isn’t reading correctly, then it will be either fixed on site, sent off for repair or replaced by a new tool.’

The department is kept busy as an abundance of engineers will be in and out every day, therefore the Calibration team ensures that the tooling is prepped and ready to go, quickly and safely.

‘My day can be a mix of tasks. Most recently, I’ve been calibrating our crimp tools which is what the Avionics guys use for wiring modifications or loom manufacture. My job is to make sure that they’re performing as they should be. Given the different types of aircraft that we work on, the equipment is diverse and there’s lot of it. The process has to be meticulous.’

Find out about our current vacancies on our career page:

Spotlight On… Pete Dawson, 2Excel Engineer

Job role: B1 Aircraft Mechanic (airframe & engines)

I’ve always had a passion for aviation since I was a child so a career within the industry just made sense. I studied at Farnborough College before taking on a four-year Apprenticeship Scheme here at Lasham. I started with the company almost five years ago and I’ve enjoyed every moment and opportunity. I’ve seen the company grow and excel and it is an honour to be a part of the team at Lasham. As soon as 2EE began its journey at Lasham, I was on the phone wanting to continue my career in the aviation industry to further my skills, and I’m now a skilled Aircraft Mechanic.

In terms of my role and my average day, I conduct in-depth maintenance on narrow body aircraft. This can be everything from changing fasteners to departing aircraft after scheduled maintenance. The maintenance we perform is unique to any other maintenance organisation because of how heavy our checks can be.

There’s a lot that I enjoy about my work. I really enjoy how different and diverse the job can be. One day I could be changing an engine on an A320 and the next, I could be doing routine maintenance on a landing gear of a Boeing 757. The people you work with in aviation and especially at 2EE form a family environment and that makes the job even better. I’m a very motivated individual who is always striving to be better and I hope to move to the next stage in my career in the very near future.

 Pete, tell us something about your life outside of work.

I love the gym! I tend to work out 5-6 times a week to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I’ve also featured in a few films in previous years as part of my hobby of acting, so being asked to feature in a company video means a lot. For 2EE to showcase me and my role feels rewarding.

Find out about our current vacancies on our career page: 


2EE wins three-year easyJet maintenance contract

2Excel Engineering, the UK-based independent Maintenance and Repair Organisation (MRO), has signed a three-year Agreement with easyJet to perform base maintenance and end-of-lease checks on the airline’s fleet of Airbus A320 Series aircraft.

The work will be carried out at 2Excel’s base maintenance facility at Lasham in Hampshire, which boasts a proud 70-year history of engineering excellence and has been reconfigured for today’s new realities. 2Excel has invested heavily in building relevant capabilities and capacity since it took over the business in December 2015. This Agreement further establishes 2Excel as an Airbus MRO and heralds the start of the return on its significant investment in its Airbus base maintenance Approval.

Chris Norton, 2Excel Engineering’s Chief Executive and Accountable Manager, said: ‘easyJet tried us out with three small checks in late 2018 and this contract has grown out of our performance then and the capabilities and strength we have built since.

‘Our focus is to create robust and enduring relationships with operators and owners by being very flexible to their changing requirements and, by redelivering their aircraft on budget, on time and to a very high standard. We’ve accepted the airline’s first four aircraft already and we’re excited about forging a strong, resilient partnership with easyJet for the long term.’

Brendan McConnellogue, easyJet’s Director of Engineering and Maintenance said: ‘We’re delighted to be working with 2Excel Engineering again this year. We started working with the 2Excel’s maintenance team back in 2018 and we’re confident that this new contract will help us deliver a challenging base maintenance programme and continue focusing on cost efficiency, whilst maintaining safety as our number one priority.’

About 2Excel Engineering

2Excel Engineering is an MRO based at Lasham Airfield in Hampshire, UK. It delivers service-oriented base maintenance for narrow body Boeing 727, 737, 757 and Airbus A320 Series airliners to operators and owners, leasing companies and governments. The facility has four large aircraft bays, a dedicated workforce of highly-skilled and very experienced engineers, its own non-destructive testing Approval and a wide range of specialist tooling.

To find out more, please visit:

For further information, please contact:

Ben Griffiths

Head of Communications, 2Excel Engineering

+44 (0) 7753 464 637

Chris Norton, CEO and Accountable Manager

Building on more than 60 years of engineering excellence, 2Excel Engineering (2EE) has established itself as the partner of choice for Boeing and Airbus narrow-body aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul.

2EE has quickly cemented its reputation as a relevant, respected Maintenance and Repair Organisation (MRO) fit for the new reality. The business holds full Base Maintenance approvals for Boeing 727, 737 and 757 and all Airbus A320 family aircraft.

Chris Norton has led 2EE since taking over the business of ATC (Lasham) in late 2015. Before that he focused on strategic commercial development of sister company 2Excel Aviation since 2006, having previously served as a pilot in the Royal Air Force for 22 years.

We sat down with Chris to discuss his experiences and his outlook for the industry:

Tell us about yourself. How and why did you get into aviation?

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to fly. As a young boy in the 1970s, I avidly read books written by Second World War pilots. I went to air shows with my dad, who had a private pilot’s licence, and I did everything I could to go flying with him. At school, I joined the RAF section of the Combined Cadet Force (CCF). I learnt to glide and went solo as soon as I was able to (long before I could drive) and got my private pilot’s licence one month after my 17th birthday. I joined the RAF as a pilot aged 18 and served for 22 years before leaving the Service to set up 2Excel. I have been hugely lucky to be able to have a career which wholly embraces my passion for aviation.

What were you doing prior to joining 2Excel? And what did you enjoy most about the job?

‘I have had three (proper) jobs in my life. I was a motorcycle courier (dispatch rider) in London for nine months between school and university. I joined the RAF as soon as I arrived at university and did 22 years as a General Duties officer (pilot).  Since then, for over 15 years, I’ve been at 2Excel. 

I love flying and particularly being able to do things with aeroplanes at the limits of what they, and I, could do. I was particularly interested in how you could modify aircraft with technological innovations and use them to influence other peoples’ decision-making. As my RAF career developed, I enjoyed the challenges of leadership and, at the end of my career, strategic planning.  At 2Excel, in addition to being able to help to build a fantastic team of people, I’ve been able to take novel ideas and make them a reality, even when that’s really difficult to do.

What’s the best thing about your role within 2EE? What gets you out of the bed in the morning?

What gets me out of bed in the morning at Lasham is the challenge of making 2EE work as a business. My role is to make it commercially viable for the long-term, to build its reputation and to ensure that it is a rewarding place to work. The best thing about 2EE is the team which, as an integrated group of very capable people, can do really cool things with aeroplanes.

What do you think sets 2Excel apart within a highly-competitive MRO market?

The skills and experience of the 2EE staff set it apart from its competitors. No job is too difficult and, its great being able to say “yes” when everyone else says “no”. Our customers really appreciate that we deliver on our promises as well. We provide our services in a very open and honest way which builds trust and, in turn, strengthens our long-term relationships with them.

What’s your take on the challenging situation the whole aviation sector is facing post-Coronavirus?

Coronavirus is a strategic shock to the airline industry. In February 2020, there were 29,000 airliners in service. Two months later there were just 13,200 and nearly 16,000 airliners were parked up. At the end of this year perhaps 2,500 will be retired forever. As an independent MRO serving owners and airlines without, or with insufficient maintenance capacity themselves, our job is to attract enough customers to match our capacity. We fill our order book by offering better quality, flexibility, transparency and value for money than our competitors. 2EE has spent four-and-a-half years transforming itself to become relevant to the modern world.

We have become used to adapting to rapidly changing commercial realities. Every aircraft operator in the market is trying to make decisions on what is best for them, holding onto cash for as long as possible to be more resilient in the face of what might come next. Being comfortable with uncertainty is a natural position for 2Excel. Throughout the pandemic, we have responded well, and swiftly, to changing customer demands; we have provided a hugely flexible service and our customers are grateful for that. There was not enough capacity in the MRO market before the Coronavirus; now, perhaps there is too much. 2EE’s services need to be relevant to the new reality.

Where are the opportunities?

The vertical drop in passenger flying due to Coronavirus restrictions means many aircraft aren’t flying but they are still getting older by the day. Most maintenance is driven by calendar life so, it is still required and 2EE provides a flexible and capable MRO service to owners and operators across the sector. We support private individuals, governments, airlines and lessors and, while the amount of airline work has decreased, we know that that is translating into more work for the lessors.

Cargo capacity has dropped too (more than 40%) with the lack of hold space in passenger aircraft (because they are not flying). This has created even more demand for passenger to freighter aircraft conversions in the second hand aircraft market and 2EE has all the skills to help deliver that.

Tell us something about your life outside work.

I have four children in their 20s and I have to remain relevant to their changing needs too. Right now I am enjoying being their friend!

About 2Excel Engineering

2Excel Engineering (2EE) is a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul business based at Lasham Airfield in Hampshire. 2Excel Engineering delivers service-oriented narrow body Boeing and Airbus Maintenance to Operators and Owners, Leasing Companies and Governments. To find out more, please visit: 2EE is part of the 2Excel Group which also encompasses 2Excel Aviation, an innovative aviation services business, working across a range of industries including defence and security, engineering, events and disaster response

New maintenance head brings diverse experience to 2Excel Engineering

2Excel Engineering recently welcomed our new Chief Operating Officer and Head of Maintenance Matt Caswell to the company. He joined us from AirTanker, the company which operates the Voyager tankers based at RAF Brize Norton.

Matt’s an excellent hire for 2EE, with demonstrable senior management and Form 4 holder experience, gained from both the airlines and Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul organisations. Matt is a time-served apprentice and EASA B1 and C Rated engineer, with experience covering Boeing and Airbus fleets.

Having held Management positions within British Airways and bmi British Midland, in addition to his engineering knowledge, he brings with him the experience and skillset needed to lead 2Excel Engineering’s continued growth and success.

We sat down with Matt to find out more about his career and aspirations:

Tell us about yourself. How and why did you get into aviation?

‘My interest in aviation started at a young age. My Grandfather was a flight engineer, my father has been in the aviation sector his entire working life and my uncle is also a Licenced Engineer. You could say that it runs in the family.’

What were you doing prior to joining 2Excel? And what did you enjoy most about the job?

‘Prior to joining 2Excel I worked for AirTanker as the Base Maintenance Manager. AirTanker is a diverse organisation that embraces the Civil and Military side of aviation. The role was challenging due to the complexity of the Voyager Aircraft that they operate, this made it an exciting challenge which was wholly rewarding and provided an excellent experience in the Civil/Military sector.’

What’s the best thing about your new role? What are you most looking forward to?

‘In my new role one of the best things to make note of is the collaboration between the entire team at Lasham, business units work hand-in-hand to achieve the Customer’s expectations and even now whilst faced with a global pandemic they continue to do so. The thing that I am most looking forward to in my new role is forging a path in the evolving market, reaffirming the 2Excel brand and ultimately seeing 2Excel Engineering prosper in the future.’

What do you think sets 2Excel apart within a highly-competitive MRO market?

‘One of the key observations that I have made since taking up post is that 2Excel Engineering do difficult tasks and they do them well! Put quite simply the scope of work that is achieved is commendable. They approach work what some organisations may well shy away from in a safe, compliant and efficient way. The workforce at 2Excel Engineering is its unique selling point. It reiterates the proud history that surrounds Lasham as an MRO and is a shining example of how our highly-skilled workers are playing a part in the local economy.’

What’s your take on the challenging situation the whole aviation sector is facing post-Coronavirus?

With the future of Aviation looking uncertain in many aspects, it is key that we position ourselves as a business to adapt to this. One of the many sectors within Aviation that has prospered through these hard times has been Air Cargo, this is an avenue that I am very keen to engage with and will form part of our business strategy going forward. It is key that we continue to invest in our people, grow new talent through our already well-established apprenticeship programmes and adapt to the change in the market once flying recommences. 2Excel Engineering will continue to modernise and explore new ways of working to ensure we can offer our customers the best possible independent MRO solution for years to come.’

Tell us something about your life outside work.

‘Outside of work I coach children between the ages of 4-16 years old to ride motocross bikes for one of the only all children motorcycle display team called The Rockets. Both of my children ride for the display team and this sees us travel the length of the country performing at shows throughout the summer.’

About 2Excel Engineering

2Excel Engineering (2EE) is a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul business based at Lasham Airfield in Hampshire. 2Excel Engineering delivers service-oriented narrow body Boeing and Airbus Maintenance to Operators and Owners, Leasing Companies and Governments. To find out more, please visit: 2EE is part of the 2Excel Group which also encompasses 2Excel Aviation, an innovative aviation services business, working across a range of industries including defence and security, engineering, events and disaster response

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