Aircraft Maintenance Engineering & Management

Aircraft maintenance engineering (AME) could well be the job some brilliant minds with bent attitude towards higher technology based activities. This is one job that will allow one to tinker with planes and even take test rides on them. And what’s more, the pilot can never take off unless AME give him the nod.

Who is an aircraft maintenance engineer or AME?

He or she is the person who inspects an aircraft and certifies it fit to fly. The AME have a checklist of weekly, monthly and pre-flight technicalities to be checked. The AME has to check parts and systems of an aircraft and in case of a fault rectify it and then allow the flight to take off. It is thus clear that this job entails a lot of responsibility, and the engineer needs to have an eye for detail. Depending on their area of specialization, an aircraft maintenance engineer will inspect, maintain and/or repair the airframe and engine systems, the electrical and instrument systems, or the body of the aircraft. Alternatively, they may choose to work on sections of the aircraft only (rather than on the aircraft itself) in overhauling or repairing.

Many institutes offering this course take an entry exam for students, while some offer direct admission. The DGCA has no stringent norms with regards to that. The course is usually for three years, though six month diplomas are also offered by some institutes. However, for a career in the field, a full time three year course would be the right option. The first two and half years are spent primarily on theoretical training, while the last six months are spent with airlines, a flying club, or the institute’s own maintenance hangar, even as they learn the job hands on. There are a number of institutes across the Country that offers aircraft maintenance engineering courses. However, in the absence of a proper rating system for these institutes, it’s best to go for a thorough background check before choosing the institute. There are about 55 institutes offering this course in India. After completion of the course, the student has to appear for the final exam, and is issued the all-important license by the DGCA. Though one can land a trainee’s job even without clearing the test, the remuneration is likely to be lot less than that of a licensed AME.

So, how difficult is it to get this license? It could be very easy, depending on how well the teachers are conducting the course. But, while teaching techniques are important, the student also needs to have a knack for technical studies. Many students may be forced into the course by parents, and might find it difficult to clear their exams, declares Deb. But according to teachers, in a class of 30, at least 20 students are technically inclined and manage to cope with the curriculum. Even if the student is unable to clear the exam in the first attempt, he can take any number of attempts till he clears the exam, confirms Ray, who was in charge of granting licenses to pilots and AMEs while he worked with DGCA.

The aviation industry in India is growing rapidly. In fact, it has overtaken China as Asia’s aviation industry mainstay.

The aviation industry in India is growing rapidly. In fact, it has overtaken China as Asia’s aviation industry mainstay. In 2006, the number of flights to and from China was up by 5%, while that from India was up by 19%. Reports suggest that airline passenger traffic in India grew by 50% last year and the civil aviation ministry projects a growth of at least 20% every year for the next decade. Over the next decade, international and domestic air traffic is expected to grow from the present levels of 42 million to close to 90 million. This growing demand in the industry will prompt recruitment of 7,500 to 8,000 pilots by 2010, reports suggest for every two pilots who will be absorbed for single aircraft, five AMEs will be employed. Since, that’s the criteria set by the DGCA, no airline company can flout it. Opening salary for an AME is usually between Rs 25,000 and Rs 40,000.