Aircraft maintenance engineers inspect, service,
repair and overhaul civil aircraft . Most
engineers specialise in either mechanical or avionics
Mechanical engineering includes engines and airframes. Airframes cover the structure and fabric of an aircraft. Some specialise in either engines or airframes, while others work on both.
Avionics engineering covers instruments, electrical and electronic equipment, automatic flight control systems, radar and radio navigation/communication systems. Avionics engineers may work on all these areas or may specialise.
All aircraft have to undergo a set of checks between flights. Engineers carry out these checks using meters and testing equipment. They also follow up and fix any problems that aircrew may have reported with the aircraft.
Aircraft also have to be maintained and overhauled after a set number of flying hours. Engineers undertake this through line maintenance, which consists of relatively quick inspections and repairs of an aircraft. Base maintenance consists of in-depth checks and major modifications to the aircraft.
Some engineers are licensed. They check and inspect aircraft maintenance work and certify it as correct and also supervise other engineers’ work.
The basic working week is 37 to 40 hours, however engineers often work longer hours as work must be finished on time. Most engineers work shifts that include weekends to cover all flying hours.
checks take place outdoors in all weather conditions.
Other work takes place indoors in hangars or
workshops. Work inside an aircraft often takes place in
cramped and awkward positions and can include
kneeling and bending. Some work can be at heights.
Workshop-based work can be light.
To be an aircraft maintenance engineer you should:
Airlines and independent companies that specialise in
aircraft maintenance are the major employers of aircraft
maintenance engineers. Others work for small employers
in general aviation, including business aviation, air taxis,
the police, air ambulance, surveying, agriculture and pilot
training. Flying clubs also employ engineers. Some
engineers work freelance.
Many small organisations only recruit trained engineers. It is usually large employers that offer training schemes, but competition for entry is intense. There is a shortage of trained aircraft maintenance engineers. Holders of licences are particularly in demand, especially avionics specialists.
Some engineers work abroad for UK airlines. There are some openings abroad working for overseas airlines, but such opportunities are decreasing.
Progression to senior and supervisor positions may be possible, particularly if licensed. Further progression is possible to management positions. Some experienced engineers may seek work with aircraft manufacturers in production fitting or in design and development. Others may apply to the Armed Forces as fitters.
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