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Aircraft maintenance engineer (structural)

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Summary of occupation

​Structural aircraft maintenance engineers mainly focus on metal forming and joining processes, working on the frame of the aircraft. They are responsible for inspecting, maintaining and repairing the structural frame, the internal ribs, engine cowlings and checking for cracks in the wings, tail and fuselage. This involves pre-flight examinations and evaluations of aircraft systems to detect and diagnose faults and prevent malfunction. When changes are made, they put the aircraft through a series of tests to ensure it is functioning properly and in safe condition for flights.

ANZSCO description: Inspects, dismantles and reassembles aircraft structures, and repairs and replaces components of aircraft frames. Works with both metal and carbon fibre composite materials. Registration or licensing may be required.
Alternative names: Airframe specialist
Specialisations:
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

​A structural aircraft maintenance engineer needs:

  • technical capability and computer proficiency
  • a mathematical mind
  • good problem solving skills
  • to have a high attention to detail
  • strong communication skills
  • to be responsible
  • to work well in a team.
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Working conditions

​Structural aircraft maintenance engineers work in a range of environments such as indoors in workshops or the hangar, or on the flightline where aircraft await departure. Working conditions in the hangar are well ventilated and strict safety regulations ensure that risks are minimised.

Structural aircraft maintenance engineers can work long hours, do shiftwork, work on weekends and may be on call.

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Salary details

​On average, aircraft maintenance engineers can expect to earn between $1 500 and $1 999 per week ($78 000 and $103 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As an aircraft maintenance engineer develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

​Aircraft maintenance engineers (structural) focus on the structure or airframe of the craft, including wings, tail, control surfaces and fuselage. They work with sheet metals, hi-tech fibre reinforced materials and composites. They perform metal forming or joining processes, and will use power tools and specialised machinery to repair aircraft sheet metal.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

​To become an aircraft maintenance engineer specialising in structures, you need to complete an apprenticeship. The aircraft maintenance engineer (structures technician) apprenticeship usually takes 48 months to complete and is available as a school-based apprenticeship.

An aircraft maintenance engineer can only work on aircraft under the supervision of a Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (LAME).

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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