Airport maintenance engineer
Mark is an airport maintenance engineer and it is his job to keep everything running smoothly, from escalators to conveyor belts and heating systems to ventilation units.
How would you outline your role?
It's a mixture of reactive and scheduled electrical work across the whole airport. It can range from mending a baggage handling system, to minor faults at a check in, or problems out on the apron (area around the runway) with the floodlights.
What are your main responsibilities?
The reactive work is about responding to operational problems and helping to keep everything up and running. The scheduled work is the planned maintenance we carry out on a regular basis, and involves fault finding and carrying out safety checks. I get allocated jobs daily. Some I can repair there and then, but with others I need to fill in a report, pass that back to the management and then repair it at a later date, often at night, because it involves shutting the equipment down.
The installation work can involve anything from a light fitting in the toilets, to airfield ground lighting systems. So as you can see, no two days are the same.
What hours do you work?
We work shifts, so there's always someone on hand if anything goes wrong. I work four days on, and four days off, either from 7.00am to 7.00pm, or 7.00pm to 7.00am. There is optional overtime too.
What is your working environment like?
It can vary as I work indoors as well as outdoors. I could be outside on the runway one minute, inside a hangar the next. There's also maintenance to be carried out on the control towers, the fire station and other outside buildings, as well as the terminal itself.
The work can be dangerous, which is why we go on health and safety courses to learn how to avoid accidents. Aircrafts generate a lot of noise, so you have to be alert all the time when you are working outside.
Who do you work with?
As well as other engineers, I work closely with air traffic control, security and safety officers, airline staff and airline handling companies.We also control outside contractors working at the airport.
What special skills or qualities do you need for your job?
It's a very demanding job and on some shifts I'm constantly on the go, so you need plenty of stamina. You need to be practical and good with your hands, and basic DIY skills are vital, such as how to use an electric drill properly and how to climb a ladder. Other skills, such as running cabling, you learn on courses. You need to be safety conscious too, and a driving licence is a bonus for travelling around the airport.
Why did you choose this type of work?
I have always been interested in electrical work. At school I worked with electrical contractors for my work experience. The work is also well paid.
What training have you done?
I've got a licence to work on airfield ground lighting (AGL 1). Other on-the-job courses I've completed include airport operations, first aid, and how to use abrasive wheels.
Do you use any tools or equipment?
There are certain things you use for most tasks, such as hand and power tools, and low voltage safety tools. I use hydraulic platforms, winches, ladders, scaffolding, and all kinds of other access equipment. We are also using more and more electrical testing equipment and computers. I also carry a walkie-talkie radio.
What do you like/dislike about your job?
I like most things, especially the responsibility and the fact that you get to use your own initiative. There's also a good sense of job satisfaction, and I like the fact I am always being tested by new faults that I've never come across before. Working outside in the winter when it's wet and cold isn't a lot of fun.
- Began work as a labourer, installing cabling on airfields.
- Electrical Apprenticeship.
- Achieved NVQ Levels 2 and 3 in Electrical Installation.
- Current job as an airport maintenance engineer.
- Talk to training organisations as they will be able to point you in the right direction.
- Apply for apprenticeships at as many companies as possible, even if they are not advertising.
Airport maintenance engineer related jobs
- Aerospace engineering technician
- Electrical engineer
- Mechanical engineer
- Railway fitter/electrician
Airport maintenance engineer salary information
- Pay for an apprentice starts at around £9,500, rising to nearer £22,000 with qualifications and experience.
- Supervisors can earn £26,000 plus.
Becoming an Airport maintenance engineer
- It is possible to gain employment as a trainee airport maintenance engineer straight from school and train on the job.
- Employers usually expect applicants to have three to five GCSE/S grades (A-E/1-5) preferably but not necessarily, in English, mathematics, science and technology or equivalent qualifications.
- Apprenticeships (Skillseekers in Scotland) may be available.
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