In today’s generation of air travel, there is an inevitable upsurge in demand for more aircrafts in the industry. This means that there will be more opportunities for aircraft mechanics and that this job will be in high demand as well. More commonly known as Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME), this job will present a great deal of challenges and responsibilities but the rewards are beyond fulfilling.
What an Aircraft Mechanic Does
To be an aircraft mechanic is one of the world’s most rewarding and exciting jobs. Despite the stress and challenges associated with the job, it is a profession that requires an immense amount of responsibility. Hundreds of thousands of lives will depend on you for their safety. If you are interested in becoming an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer, you might have started to think about what an AME does.
An AME is responsible for ensuring that an aircraft is airworthy and ultimately safe for any person who is involved with the operation of the aircraft. From a more specific point of view however, an AME’s day-to-day tasks would involve diagnosing the aircraft for potential mechanical problems and making the appropriate repairs to prepare the airplane for its next flight. In addition, they are also responsible for making technical adjustments on aircraft and for conducting overhauls to maintain the safety standards of an airplane. Aircraft mechanics are trained to work with every component, parts and system that an aircraft has such as its Pneumatic System, Hydraulic System and Electrical System.
Aircraft mechanics also check and maintain repair logs to make sure that everything is up-to-date and current. These checks are essential to helping a mechanic determine corrective and preventative measures for the airplanes. As part of a daily routine, aircraft mechanics may also do regular inspections to follow the regulations and safety standards. Aircraft Maintenance Engineers also inspect the aircraft parts for any faulty components and carefully examine which parts or systems require attention.
Requirements to become an Aircraft Mechanic
An Aircraft Maintenance Engineer career is usually divided into different types. Each type usually has a specialized set of skills with regards to the different aircraft components and systems. Such examples would include an Airframe Mechanic, Powerplant Mechanic and Avionics Technician. Each specialization requires a specialized set of trainings as well, however, there are common things that each aircraft mechanic is required to have to perform his or her job successfully. Regardless of the specialization, an aircraft mechanic is required to be accurate and must take on a methodological approach when it comes to solving problems. A good aircraft mechanic can make good observations and concentrate during high-stress/high-pressure scenarios. Mechanics are also required to understand and interpret blueprints and engineering sketches. On top of all these requirements, the most important requirement and asset a mechanic can have is a solid understanding of responsibility and a safe approach to his or her work.
Aircraft mechanics can work anywhere from airport hangars, the ramp, flight schools and maintenance repair or overhaul facilities. Being able to work in groups and individually is essential to being productive and making the most out of the job. It is crucial that an AME can adapt to different work environments quickly as the job is very dynamic and often, the job can be very physically and mentally demanding.
Training and Certification
Given the immense amount of responsibility, knowledge and skills required to become an AME, it is obvious that rigorous training and learning will have to be done before you can start working as an aircraft mechanic. There are always many ways to get from point A to point B but to be as efficient as possible, you will need a structured plan. Different countries offer and require different standards. However, since The College of Aeronautics is based in Montreal, Canada, this article will focus more on the requirements needed to be an aircraft mechanic in Canada.
According to Transport Canada, to become an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer there are three main steps to follow: obtain basic training, acquire experience and successfully complete written exams. From a very general perspective here are the things you will need to do:
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Complete a Transport Canada-approved AME basic training program (or one that is acceptable to Transport Canada)
- Get the total amount of applicable civil aviation maintenance experience
- Gain skills by doing a number of specific maintenance tasks
- Successfully complete the technical (if required) and regulatory exams
- Submit an application with the correct form and all other required documentation
The first step in becoming an aircraft mechanic is to go through basic training which you can do at several approved schools listed on the Transport Canada website. This training usually takes around two years to complete. During your time at training, you will go through extensive theoretical knowledge and hands-on training. You will learn about maintaining the aircraft, avionics, structures and more. An example of the syllabus for basic training may also be found on the Transport Canada website. Training will begin from the basic concepts of aircraft mechanics and progress to more advanced topics.
After completing basic training, you should be equipped with the knowledge and skill required to start working as a non-licenced mechanic. During this time, students that finish basic training are usually off to find a job at an airline, not necessarily the major players, to gain the specific experience required to sit the Transport Canada exams and become a licenced mechanic. This stage usually takes another two to four years depending on the aircraft type you wish to work on. More specifically, it would take two years of specific experience to become a licenced AME to work on light aircraft such as C172 or PA34 and four years on a wide body aircraft such as B737 or A320. Note that your time as a non-licenced AME is a job that you will get paid for, leading up to higher salaries depending on your experience and skill once you become a licenced AME. The main difference between an aircraft mechanic who is licenced and who is not is the level of responsibility and authority.
In addition to gaining specific experiences required by Transport Canada, you may also have to “gain skills by doing several specific maintenance tasks”. Over the period of gaining your experience, you will also be performing several specific tasks which are listed here.
Ultimately, once you have completed all the basic training and gathered all the experience and specific skill requirements, you will be able to sit the Transport Canada exam. Student mechanics by this time would be well prepared for the exam however, Transport Canada also provides a study guide which helps the applicant narrow down the references and materials that will require more knowledge for the exam. Once the applicant successfully completes the exam, they will become eligible to apply for the Aircraft Maintenance Engineer Licence which is issued by Transport Canada.
Becoming an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer will provide you with an opportunity to follow a career high in demand and with the right dedication and determination you will succeed! Fortunately, the College of Aeronautics provides you with the chance to realize your passion.