Aircraft maintenance engineer

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Sue works at Luton airport as an avionics (electronic and electrical systems) maintenance engineer for Britannia Airways. She trained by doing a 4-year Apprenticeship with the airline.

Aircraft maintenance engineer job description

I maintain the avionics systems on Britannia's fleet of Boeing aircraft by carrying out different levels of service checks that are similar to those associated with motor vehicles.

For instance, the Heavy Check A is done after every 1,300 hours of flying time. C checks are more in-depth and the aircraft stays in the hangar for about two weeks, and I change parts, fix defects and test every avionics system.

Avionics engineers maintain anything on an aircraft to do with electrics, flight computer systems or radio systems, so I have a wide range of tasks.

What does an aircraft maintenance engineer do?

This depends on the aircraft. I could be running in cables to keep the aircraft up to date with the latest computer systems or I could be working on the autopilot system to ensure the aircraft will fly correctly.

Another thing I do is electrically connect the passenger seats to make sure there is music and video audio at each seat and that the whole in-flight entertainment system is working.

What tools does an aircraft maintenance engineer use?

I was trained to use lots of tools during my apprenticeship. I use hand tools like spanners, screwdrivers, cutters and pliers, as well as electrical meters to measure voltage, resistance and so on. I also use more advanced avionic test equipment, which tests the radio systems we use and sends out signals for the aircraft to receive and respond to.

What are an Aircraft maintenance engineers working hours?

How many hours does an Aircraft maintenance engineer work? I work on a four-week pattern of early and late shifts. Early shifts run from 7.00am to 5.30pm and late shifts from 3.30pm to 11.00pm. I work three weeks of early shifts, which can include weekend work, then one week of late shifts.

Where does an Aircraft maintenance engineer work?

I work in an aircraft hangar, which can hold two aircraft and equipment such as docking and staging equipment, which helps us to get on and around the aircraft. The hangar is large enough to fit more than 1,300 double-decker buses. It can be very noisy, as a number of people work on the aircraft. When the doors are open while aircraft are being moved in or out, it can get very cold in winter.

Who does an Aircraft maintenance engineer work with?

There are lots of small teams of engineers and at the head of each team is a team leader. The teams are told which aircraft to work on by a shift or group leader.

What do you need to become an Aircraft maintenance engineer?

I have to be keen, willing to learn and able to cope with a variety of duties, as there are many different jobs involved in getting the aircraft ready. I must be able to work well within a team and it's essential that I pay attention to detail, as the safety of the aircraft is critical.

What challenges does an Aircraft maintenance engineer face?

It's a challenge to work through aircraft systems to find the causes of problems. When aircraft are on their C checks, I have to work to a set schedule so that the aircraft are not out of service for too long, which is challenging but exciting at the same time.

Why did you choose this career?

I was interested in aircraft and wanted a hands-on job. I like the variety that this job offers – I get to work on many different aircraft systems.

What are an Aircraft maintenance engineers prospects?

I would like to move from hangar maintenance and work on aircraft maintenance between their flights. It means you have to deal very quickly with problems so you don't delay flights.

How to become an Aircraft maintenance engineer?

  • GCSEs.
  • Apprenticeship with Britannia Airways.

How do you become an Aircraft maintenance engineer tips

  • Apply to airlines running Apprenticeships before leaving school.
  • Most airlines ask for GCSEs in mathematics and physics and practical hand skills, so make sure you have these.

Aircraft maintenance engineer related jobs

  • Aerospace engineer
  • Electrical engineering technician
  • Electronic engineering technician
  • Engineering maintenance fitter
  • Engineering maintenance technician

How much is an Aircraft maintenance engineer salary?

  • Apprentices earn around £10,000 to £15,000 a year. With experience and qualifications, this will rise to £20,000.
  • Senior maintenance engineers can earn up to £35,000 a year.

Becoming an Aircraft maintenance engineer

  • Most people enter by doing an Apprenticeship (Skillseekers in Scotland) or a full-time course in engineering, in order to gain an aircraft maintenance engineer licence.
  • Entry to both routes is usually with four GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3), including mathematics and science or technology, or equivalent qualification.
  • With Apprenticeships, the more theoretical aspects of the work may be covered by study at a local college. Along with workplace assessments, this can lead to at least NVQ/SVQ Level 3 Aircraft Engineering Maintenance. If the training does not include NVQ/SVQ Level 3, an assessment will be carried out on the job.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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