Young, female and engineering the F-35

Chery Bernadina - Maintenance Technician

As we mentioned before, the F-35 maintenance facility was already good to go at our facility in Woensdrecht. Now, we have taken another step closer to the actual start by establishing our ‘F-35 base team’- and an important member of this team is Chery Bernadina,our first maintenance technician. Young, ambitious and… a woman. Although that should no longer be unusual, our industry still is largely a man’s world. Still, our location in Woensdrecht and the great progress we’re making over there is to us simply another example of how we’ve got the right people for the right challenges. Let’s dive into this subject by talking to Chery about her role and ambitions, and to Gerard Jansen, General Manager Aeronamic Services, about his challenges and vision for our F-35 maintenance team.

In a previous blog, we already talked about Chery’s career at Aeronamic. Back then she told us: “I’m the type of person who embraces challenge, believing that there is always a solution for everything.” Well, that hasn’t changed in the past two years. Quite the contrary! Chery is committed to continuous personal development and embracing new challenges. “I’m glad to have Aeronamic’s fully support on this. They were the ones who asked me to join the F-35 maintenance team. This project is bigger, more complicated, and therefore more exciting than my present job, so I immediately said yes! The fact that I had to move to the south of the Netherlands is not an issue for me.” Chery is now preparing for this new position. “I need to acquire a lot of knowledge and attend training courses to update my skills. I’m already working in Woensdrecht two days a week.”


Last year, Aeronamic made great progress in Woensdrecht and the facility is 80 percent ready. Gerard Janssen: “This year, we’re focusing on training our team and getting the right qualifications, so that in 2023 we are ready to go.” The F-35 maintenance contract is for a very long-term period. “We are only at the beginning and we see this as a pioneering phase. This includes several sub-projects and discussions about the scope and systems we are going to activate. The key to all these projects is to get the commitment of our team members, as well as other parties like the Royal Netherlands Air Force, Honeywell and Lockheed Martin.” Gerard emphasized: “F-35 maintenance is definitely  a team effort.” Aeronamic benefited greatly from the knowledge and experience it gained in Almelo (our main facility in the Netherlands) and Sibiu (our production facility in Romania). Chery’s experience was also extremely helpful. Chery: “In my present job in Almelo, I’m also working on the Forward Module which is part of the Power Thermal Management System we are maintaining. But I still have a lot to learn. For example, I need additional knowledge when it comes to the system in its entirety and special processes.”

Way of working

In addition to her skills and knowledge, Chery brings Aeronamic’s way of working to Woensdrecht. Gerard: “This includes organizational structure, culture and technical skills. She can use her experience to become a torchbearer who lights the way in Woensdrecht. The facility in Woensdrecht can therefore also be clearly recognizable as an Aeronamic facility.” Gerard underlines the importance of investing in young talent and female talent as an addition to more experienced hands, although a woman in technology should no longer be unusual. “Diversity should be the standard and we don’t just preach it, we practice it. We have experienced how truly beneficial it is to have the  right combination of people. The work we do as Aeronamic has everything to do with our people’s expertise and the company culture.” Chery will play an important role in onboarding and training new employees. She says: “I hope we are able to build a successful team and work at a great production facility together. I’m really looking forward to that and can’t wait to start the actual maintenance work!” For now, Aeronamic still has some steps to take in Woensdrecht, from the pioneering phase to the development of further structure, making it a stronger organization. Gerard: “Looking at my age, I won’t be experiencing the end of this 40-year trajectory at Aeronamic. But Chery might!”

Are you also interested in joining the F-35 maintenance team? Then please stay tuned. We’ll be looking for several young (female) employees as well as experienced aircraft maintenance technicians in the coming years! 

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