How to become an aircraft engineer


How to become an aircraft engineer

If you are looking to become an aircraft engineer, the likelihood is that you already have some experience in the aviation industry.  Aircraft engineer jobs are highly skilled positions and hold a huge amount of responsibility.  Typically responsible for a team of Aircraft Mechanics or Aircraft Fitters, certified aircraft engineers are the people who sign off an aircraft before it becomes air bound.  Highly trained and experienced in the maintenance and repair of aircraft, an aircraft engineer role is varied and rewarding.  Positions are commonly offered on a contract basis, but there are still permanent positions to be had for good candidates.  But if becoming an aircraft engineer is your dream, the big question is: how do you achieve it?

Becoming and staying an aircraft engineer is a relatively complex process.  The first step on the route to success in a career in aviation engineering jobs, be it in the UK, the UAE, the middle east or Europe is the gathering of a comprehensive range of skills.  Once you have the basic skills required, you will need to equip yourself with the theoretical element of this career path and then you will need to obtain a basic license. This initial part of the process involves months of study, backed by sometimes years of experience, which is then followed by further study that is typically offered at an approved centre.  After that, you need to get exposure to practical experience in order to get company approval.  And even once you have the status of certified aircraft engineer, you can’t sit back, because you need to keep your skills and your knowledge up to date in order to remain certified. 

Aircraft engineering knowledge is deemed to be out of date if you haven’t used it for over 2 years, so the need to keep up to date is clear for all to see.  However, if you find yourself in a situation where circumstances outwith your control have led you to have more than a 2-year gap in your aircraft engineering career, you can always take a familiarisation course to bring your knowledge up to date. 

Category B licenses are the most common choice should you want to bag yourself an aircraft engineering position and are available from a number of training providers.  Generally speaking, the route to success is much the same, whichever training provider you select.  Offered under European Aviation Safety Agency or EASA regulation, Category B licenses are split into two types: B1 and B2.  B1 is the mechanical element of the training and covers aircraft structure, powerplant and mechanical and electrical systems.  B2 deals with avionics communication, navigation, radar, instrument and electrical systems. 

There are two different paths that could lead to an EASA license.  The first is the self-starter route and the second is the approved course route.  

In order to succeed in the self-starter route, you would need to study for the EASA exams relevant to your desired area of expertise.  There are a host of EASA approved exam centres offering both online and offline solutions, so it’s a case of shopping around for the best option for your unique needs.  Thereafter you will need five years of experience in addition to the exam qualifications in order to obtain a license.

The approved course route takes anywhere between 2 and 3 years but shortens the additional experience required to two years instead of five.  It’s for this reason, as well as the fact that you are generally considered more attractive to employers at the point where you’re looking for work experience that this route is so popular.  So, if you choose to go this route, you are likely to have an advantage over self-starters.

You can find further information here:  European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).


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