The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Right Degree

Does the roar of an aeroplane excite you? Do you ever wonder what makes the plane work? If you’re interested in the mechanics of an aircraft, aircraft maintenance engineering could be right up your alley.

The most important aspect in the aviation industry is safety and it is the responsibility of aircraft maintenance engineers (AMEs) to check the aircraft and issue a certificate regarding its airworthiness. In order to become an AME, one should obtain a licence from the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA).

What do I have to do?

AMEs are responsible for keeping the aircraft in perfect flying condition. To ensure the safety of aircraft operation, AMEs carry out maintenance, repair, overhauling and modification of planes. They rectify defects reported by pilots, cabin crew or maintenance personnel. AMEs shoulder considerable legal responsibility for ensuring that work has been performed in accordance with the applicable standards of airworthiness.

Maintenance procedures include inspection of engines, landing gear, instruments, pressurised sections, accessories, brakes, valves, pumps and air-conditioning systems. Some engineers work on one or many different types of aircraft, such as jets, propeller-driven aeroplanes and helicopters. Others specialise in one section of a particular type of aircraft, such as the engine, hydraulics or electrical system. Power plant engineers are authorised to work on engines and do limited work on propellers. Airframe engineers are authorised to work on any part of the aircraft except the instruments, power plants and propellers. Airframe and power plant engineers work on all parts of the plane, except instruments.

AMEs usually work in hangars or indoor areas, though they may have to work outdoors in unpleasant weather when the hangars are full or when repairs have to be carried out quickly.

They have to work under tremendous pressure to maintain flight schedules. AMEs are also responsible for maintaining safety standards and this can be stressful. Continuously staying updated on changing technologies is part of the challenge they face.

What should I study?

A three-year aircraft maintenance engineering licence training is offered by a few institutes approved by the DGCA. Those who have passed Plus Two with physics, chemistry and mathematics as well as diploma holders in any branch of engineering are eligible for admission. Three years’ training is necessary for appearing for the aircraft maintenance licensing examination conducted by the DGCA. The minimum age is 17.

What next?

The Indian aviation industry has witnessed a boom with the implementation of the open sky policy by the Indian government. Almost all private airlines in the country have plans to augment their passenger capacity vis-a-vis the number of aircraft. This would in turn generate enormous job opportunities for aviation professionals, such as pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers. There is no dearth of opportunities for the best in the profession. Besides foreign airlines, there is a plethora of opportunities in national carriers, private airlines and training establishments.

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