A mechanical 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.
Mechanical aircraft maintenance engineers work in a range of environments such as indoors in workshops or the hangar, outdoors on the airfield, 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.
Mechanical aircraft maintenance engineers can work long hours, do shift work, work on weekends and may be on call.
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.
Aircraft maintenance engineers (mechanical) inspect and work on engines and landing gear, and accessories such as brakes, hydraulic systems, pneumatic devices, fuel control pumps, valves and air conditioning systems. Hoists are used to remove engines, which can then be dismantled and tested to check for corrosion. In some cases components may be X-rayed or checked using magnetic inspection equipment to look for unnoticeable cracks.
To become an aircraft maintenance engineer specialising in mechanics, you need to complete an apprenticeship. The aircraft maintenance engineer (mechanical) 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).
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.
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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.