Job: Aircraft Maintenance

By , March 22, 2010

Job Description: Aircraft Maintenance Engineers

You may have heard your parents complain when they have to take the car into the service station for repairs: “It’ll cost an arm and a leg,” they groan. Well, imagine if it were something even bigger, more complex, and more costly -like an airplane or other aircraft.

Those “big birds in the sky” need maintenance and repairs too. Instead of a garage, airplanes are wheeled into an aircraft repair shop called a hangar. And the people who fix them are called aircraft mechanics. Aircraft inspectors check mechanics’ work to make sure everything is done right and according to safety standards.

The Flight Path

Aircraft inspectors and mechanics must understand exactly how the aircraft is built and how it works. They often have to take apart an entire system, such as the engine, and put it back together. A large part of their work involves “troubleshooting”: searching for small problems–such as cracks, splits and warping–that can cause major problems if not identified and repaired early.

The skill level required has increased, as aircraft mechanical and control systems become more and more complex and increasingly computerized. Therefore, an understanding of computerized machinery as well as good communication and analysis skills are very important. Because they need to perform repairs and inspections to match statutory or regulatory requirements – the tracking and logging of the activities is an integral part of this trade. Aircraft mechanics usually specialize in working on specific aircraft systems such as engines, engine accessories, airframes, propellers, mechanical components or hydraulic systems and specific kinds of aircraft, such as light aircraft, jet transports and helicopters.

A growing number of helicopters are being used in the logging and forestry sector to enable loggers to cut trees selectively. According to industry sources, this is increasing the demand for workers trained in helicopter maintenance.

Because so much safety is at stake, AME’s are required to have good vision, be physically and mentally fit, no serious allergies to petroleum products, and capable of climbing ladders and work stands to gain access to all parts of an aircraft.

Specific Duties

Aircraft mechanics perform the following tasks:

  • Evaluate, repair and overhaul an aircraft’s structural, mechanical or hydraulic systems.
  • Install or modify aircraft engines or other aircraft systems.
  • Dismantle airframes, aircraft engines or other systems for repair and overhaul. (Of course, they have to put them back together again!)
  • Work on specific aircraft systems such as engines, engine accessories or airframes.

Getting Your Wings (Education & Training)

  • Grade 12 education is preferred
  • Northern Lights College as well as many other Canadian institutions offers Transport Canada approved training to become an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer.
  • To become a certified Aircraft Maintenance Engineer you must complete the training, required work experience hours, and a Federal Regulations exam.
  • Aircraft mechanics and inspectors who sign maintenance releases and certify airworthiness require an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer’s (AME) licence issued by Transport Canada. Transport Canada certifies 5 different kinds of AME’s: M1-non-turbojet aircraft ; M2 -all aircraft not included in M1; E-Aircraft electronic systems; S-Aircraft structures; Balloons.
  • Industry certification from the Canadian Aviation Maintenance Council for some occupations in this unit group is available, but voluntary.
  • Upgrading to stay abreast of technological change is crucial for those who wish to succeed.
  • Check out the Aircraft Maintenance Career Flowchart
  • Employer Workplace

    • Aircraft and parts manufacturers
    • Federal government
    • Airline companies
    • Aircraft maintenance and overhaul companies
    • Service firms to air transport companies
    • Defense services

    Work Environment

    They most often work at airports or repair yards, mainly indoors, in repair shops, plants and other buildings, but many will work outside at least part of the time. An aircraft mechanic can not be afraid of heights, as they may work on the top of jet wings and fuselages. A five-day, 40-hour workweek is normal, but sometimes shift work, or overtime, is required.

    Job Titles

  • Aircraft Inspector
  • Aircraft Maintenance Engineer
  • Aircraft Mechanic–Engine Overhaul
  • Aircraft Systems Inspector
  • Certified Aircraft Technician
  • Flight Test Inspector
  • Hydraulics Mechanic
  • Mechanic–Aircraft Maintenance
  • Repair and Overhaul Inspector
  • Shop Inspector–Aircraft Repair
  • Career Path

    With lots of experience under their belts, aircraft mechanics can move into supervisory positions. To become an inspector, you need several years of experience as an aircraft mechanic first. Once you have earned your Aircraft Maintenance Engineer’s (AME) licence, you’ll be qualified to inspect a certain type of aircraft. Eventually, you may apply for an advanced licence that allows you to inspect more than one type of aircraft or aircraft system. Upgrading to stay abreast of technological change is important for aircraft mechanics who wish to succeed and remain knowledgeable about their field.

    Dollars and Sense

    Generally, apprentices earn at least 50 percent of the prevailing journeyperson’s wage in the first period, 60 percent in the second, 70 percent in the third and 80 percent in the fourth. The average wage for a qualified Aircraft Maintenance Engineer journeyperson is between $24-30 an hour.

    Get a head start through Northern Opportunities!

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