The Aim of the Aircraft Maintenance Engineer
By ensuring that all maintenance work and all maintenance engineers are fully trained and regulated, the Aviation Industry (and its governing bodies) aims to maintain;
"the safety of the aircraft and all passengers"
This aim is not simple to achieve. Aircraft are a complex mixture of systems maintained by an equally complex workforce. For this reason, it is worth your while taking time to understand the licensing process for certifying Aircraft Engineers and the training that you will undertake if you choose Aircraft Engineering as your career.
Qualifications for Aircraft Engineering
What type of Engineer do you want to be? What qualification will you require?
To help you choose, you will first need to understand something of the process of certification.
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is the organisation that regulates all aviation activity within Europe and it delegates authority for implementation of its regulations to National Aviation Authorities; in our case the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
To ensure safety within the industry, engineering personnel are licensed in the same way as pilots and air traffic controllers. If suitably licensed an engineer can certify the work that has been carried out on an aircraft and return it to service.
There are several categories of licence which cover different levels and disciplines and, as in other professions, a variety of routes exist to achieve them. Let us deal with the type of work and the licences required first.
A Ramp or Line Maintenance Certifying Mechanic is a person who is qualified to work on operational aircraft performing relatively minor maintenance tasks and replacement of parts that are required between major service overhauls and to subsequently certify these tasks; this work is generally done while the aircraft is in service, during turnarounds or overnight. A Category A Licence is required for this. It is attained after graduation from a 6 month approved course and after 1 year of appropriate certified experience. The alternative route to this licence is the self-improver, which can be achieved by self-study or attending a modular course. In this case 3 years of appropriate experience is required.
AST primarily provides training for the higher level Category B License.
A Base Maintenance Certifying Technician is a person who is qualified to work on aircraft that require more complex maintenance tasks or have been withdrawn from service for routine periodic servicing or major overhauls and re-fits and who can then subsequently certify his/her own and other work. A Category B Licence is required for this. It is attained after graduation from a 2 year approved course and after 2 years of appropriate certified experience. Category B licences are further divided into specialist skills such as mechanical or avionic. The alternative route to this licence is the self-improver, which can be achieved by self-study or attending a modular course. In this case 5 years of appropriate experience is required.
What Disciplines Do the Licences Cover?
If you decide that you would like to be aspecialising in scheduled maintenance, restoration and re-fit of airframes, power plants, fuel systems and associated pneumatic, hydraulic and air-conditioning systems then you can select from both licence routes. The licence issued will show which category of aircraft it applies to - which will be one of the following:
- A1 Fixed Wing: Aeroplanes with Turbine Engines
Line maintenance of Turbine Engine aircraft (often referred to as jet engines) and also called combustion turbines, are rotary engines that extract energy from a flow of combustion gas. It has an upstream compressor coupled to a downstream turbine, and a combustion chamber in-between. Turbine aircraft may be propeller or jet driven.
- A2 Fixed Wing: Aeroplanes with Piston Engines
Line maintenance of Piston Engines (otherwise known as reciprocating engines) use fundamentally similar technology to those used by cars and motorcycles where pistons in cylinders are used to generate motive force for propulsion by turning pressure into a rotating motion. These engines always drive a propeller.
- A3 Rotary Wing: Helicopters with Turbine Engines
Line Maintenance of helicopters with one or more Turbine Engines and all associated systems including power plants, fuel systems and associated pneumatic, hydraulic and air-conditioning systems.
- A4 Rotary Wing: Helicopters with Piston Engines
Line Maintenance of helicopters with a Piston Engine and all associated systems including power plants, fuel systems and associated pneumatic, hydraulic and air-conditioning systems.
- B1.1 Fixed Wing: Aeroplanes with Turbine Engines
Turbine Engines: (often referred to as jet engines) and also called combustion turbines, are rotary engines that extract energy from a flow of combustion gas. It has an upstream compressor coupled to a downstream turbine, and a combustion chamber in-between. Turbine aircraft may be propeller or jet driven.
- B1.2 Fixed Wing: Aeroplanes with Piston Engines
Piston Engines: (otherwise known as reciprocating engines) use fundamentally similar technology to those used by cars and motorcycles where pistons in cylinders are used to generate motive force for propulsion by turning pressure into a rotating motion. These engines always drive a propeller.
- B1.3 Rotary Wing: Helicopters with Turbine Engines
This licence category will allow the mechanical engineer to service to base maintenance level, helicopters with one or more Turbine Engines and all associated systems including power plants, fuel systems and associated pneumatic, hydraulic and air-conditioning systems.
- B1.4 Rotary Wing: Helicopters with Piston Engines
This licence category will allow the mechanical engineer to service to base maintenance level, helicopters with a Piston Engine and all associated systems including power plants, fuel systems and associated pneumatic, hydraulic and air-conditioning systems.
- B2 Avionic: Electronic systems fitted to all aircraft
If you are more electronically orientated and decide that you would like to be an Avionics Engineer specialising in scheduled maintenance, restoration and modification of communication, navigation, radar equipment; guidance and control systems including auto-pilot/auto-land and cabin entertainment then this license is the one to choose, Note: this qualification is only licensed at category B level.
To achieve the category you have chosen refer to the license path below which indicate timescales for comparison.
Category B License Path
Here is a pictorial view of the path to achieving your Category B License.
Training to Be an Engineer With AST
AST has 90 years experience of training Aircraft Engineers to the highest standards using teaching and training methods that are as current as the aircraft our students will be working on when they qualify.
Throughout that time, it has successfully tailored its courses, or designed new ones to meet the specific and changing needs of the industry.
If you decide to train as an Aircraft Engineer with AST you can be sure of the highest quality training, by professionally qualified lecturers, using the latest teaching technology in modern classrooms and training facilities.
Although AST is a UKCAA and EASA approved training provider, it also meets the wider needs of the industry by providing a broad range of courses covering the skills and knowledge required for all levels of engineering training from introductory to fully licensed.
The following is a list of the course offered by AST:
- Part 66 Aircraft Maintenance Licence Category B1.1, B1.2,B1.3 & B2, (Aeroplanes Piston or & Turbine, Helicopters Turbine; and Avionics)
Additionally, AST can offer articulation to Degree courses with Perth College UHI.
Courses for Certifying Staff
AST (UK.147.0002, EASA.UK.147.0174, CAAN.147.001) is approved by the UKCAA, EASA and Nepalese Civil Aviation Authority under Part 147 for training and examination to meet the knowledge requirements of the Part 66, Aircraft Maintenance Licence (AML) in Categories A1, A2, A3, B1.1, B1.2, B1.3, & B2. Further details of these courses are given below.
To become a Licensed Aircraft Engineer, there are two licensing routes that candidates may follow, all of which have both basic knowledge and experience requirements that must be met before the regulating authority will issue a licence.
- must be taught by a training provider holding Part 147 approval issued by the relevant National Aviation Authority. AST is approved by the UKCAA and EASA.
- must provide a minimum number of training hours, 800 for Category A and 2400 for category B.
- must provide the required percentage of training hours for the development of practical skills on representative aircraft and systems, This includes Aircraft Maintenance Environment Training (AMET), at a Part 145 approved maintenance organisation. AST organises and supervises such AMET as well as providing basic skills training in its Hangar teaching facility.
EASA approved training providers such as AST provide examination of all Part 66 modules and formal assessment of practical competence during the course.
On successful completion graduates are issued a Certificate of Recognition of Approved Training. The Certificate of Recognition certifies that the holder has passed all the requirements of the course including each module examination and has also been assessed practically to be competent and safe when working with aircraft.
The benefit of undertaking an approved course is that the students are given a thorough knowledge of aircraft operation, structures and systems, Successful completion of the Basic Part 66 Approved Course offered by AST reduces the experience requirement from five years to two years for the Category 'B' Licences.
The Self-Improver Route
This route to licensing is for those people with appropriate experience in the industry, possibly through service with the Armed Forces or in civil aviation in a non-certifying role and who have no previous relevant technical training. Individuals folowing the Self-Improver route require to have passed all relevant examinations in the desired license category and provide evidence of 5 years appropriate experience, The candidate must meet both the knowledge and experience requirements within a maximum period of ten years. This route is also known as the modular route.