What they do
Mechanical aircraft maintenance engineers inspect, maintain and repair the mechanical components of aircraft. They work on all parts of the aircraft, except instruments and radio systems. They may focus on a specific section of the aircraft, or on one particular maintenance process. They conduct pre-flight checks of aircraft systems to detect and diagnose defective equipment in order to 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.
Specialisations include: Aircraft maintenance engineer (airframes), Aircraft maintenance engineer (engines), Aircraft maintenance engineer (structural), Aircraft technician (air force, army), Aviation technician aircraft (navy), Licensed aircraft maintenance engineer (airframes), Licensed aircraft maintenance engineer (engines)
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.
Tools and technologies
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.
How do I become one?
Education and training
To become an aircraft maintenance engineer specialising in mechanics, you need to undertake an apprenticeship in aircraft maintenance engineer (mechanical). The apprenticeship usually takes 48 months to complete and is available as a school-based apprenticeship.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.
You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
Required registration and licensing
To become a Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (LAME) in Western Australia, you will need to undertake exams set by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority or by an approved Maintenance Training Organisation or be enrolled in a A, B1 or B2 license training course.