Aircraft Maintenance Engineer Position Profile
Aircraft Maintenance Engineers may work on a variety of aircraft or work primarily on specific types of aircraft or aircraft systems. For example, they may work on engines, flight controls, landing gear, fuel systems, environmental control systems, pneumatic or hydraulic systems.
Duties and responsibilities therefore vary from one job to another but, in general, aircraft maintenance technicians:
- repair, replace, assemble and install aircraft parts;
- test the operation of aircraft systems to locate the source of malfunctions and trouble-shoot problems;
- inspect parts to ensure they are in proper working order;
- perform routine maintenance tasks such as changing oil and cleaning filters;
- conduct and record routine and special inspections as required by regulations, and;
- complete entries in log books (technical records).
Aircraft Maintenance Engineers work on aircraft indoors in hangars or shops, and outdoors in all weather conditions on airport ramps or in remote camp settings. They will need to observe all safety precautions as they may be exposed to fumes, noisy environments or other hazards requiring the use of safety equipment and a strict adherence to all policies, rules and regulations related to occupational safety and health. They also may be required to lift items weighing up to 20 kilograms or use hoists to move larger, heavier objects. Having to work quickly and observe safety standards at the same time can be stressful.
Aircraft Maintenance Engineers often work during the evening and night when aircraft are not in use or in remote camp settings on a rotational basis. Shift work, overtime, being on call and extended absences from home are common.
Before you decide to pursue a career as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer it is important that you do an honest appraisal of yourself to ensure you have the following personal characteristics:
- excellent mechanical aptitude;
- good eyesight and hearing;
- good eye-hand and muscle co-ordination;
- the physical fitness and agility required for reaching and climbing;
- the ability to work at heights;
- the desire and ability to be careful and accurate to the smallest detail;
- the ability to work well with others but also make decisions independently, often under pressure;
- the ability to select, interpret and follow instructions provided in written or blueprint form, and to interpret regulations;
- excellent organizational and time management skills;
- a commitment to working to the highest standards of safety, and;
- the dedication needed to spend several years in the mandatory apprenticeship program before becoming a licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineer as well as a commitment to live-long learning due to the constant training and recertification requirements needed to work safely and effectively in the industry.
People interested in pursuing a career in this field should also enjoy using tools, equipment and machinery to perform tasks requiring precision, analyzing information and troubleshooting problems, and having organized methods for their work.
Related High School Subjects
English Language Arts; Mathematics; Science; Trades (preferably in mechanics or something similar).
Aircraft Maintenance Engineers are high school graduates who have related post-secondary education approved by Transport Canada. Many companies provide ongoing compulsory and voluntary training courses to help employees upgrade and update their qualifications to become licensed aircraft maintenance engineers.
All maintenance on aircraft must be certified by licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineers. AME licenses are issued by Transport Canada in five different categories and are further divided into specific groups (endorsements) within each category. Training, experience and examination requirements vary with each license category and group but, in general, applicants for licensing must be:
- at least 21 years of age
- able to provide proof of citizenship
- able to read and answer examination questions in English or French, without assistance.
An Aircraft Maintenance Engineer – Category M (Maintenance) license authorizes the holder to certify work for the type of aircraft for which they are endorsed and trained (for example, helicopters, piston powered airplanes, turbo propelled airplanes). To qualify, applicants must:
- have successfully completed a Transport Canada approved or accepted maintenance training course;
- write an air regulations exam (passing grade is 70 per cent);
- have four years of satisfactory maintenance experience, six months of which must be on complete aircraft for the group for which the individual is endorsed;
- provide evidence of having completed at least 70 per cent of the tasks relevant to the category sought.
In Alberta, the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Calgary offers a two year Aircraft Maintenance Engineers Technology diploma program approved by Transport Canada. The entrance requirement is a high school diploma with English Language Arts 30-1 or 30-2 and Pure or Applied Math 30, or equivalents. This is a quota program so better than minimum specified qualifications may be required to gain admission.
For current information about programs, admission requirements and mature student admission policies, please check post-secondary calendars or websites.
Aircraft maintenance technicians are required to supply their own hand tools. Specialized tools and equipment usually are supplied by the employer.
Other Sources of Information
- Post-secondary institution calendars and websites (see Educational Requirements above)
- Canadian Aviation Maintenance Council website: www.camc.ca
- Careers in Transportation website: www.transpocity.ca
- Transport Canada website: www.tc.gc.ca
- The Helicopter Association of Canada website: http://www.h-a-c.ca/
- Great Slave Helicopters website: www.gsheli.com
- Air Tindi website: www.airtindi.com
- Northern Air Transportation Association website: http://dnn.nata-yzf.ca