What they do
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.
Specialisations include: Aircraft maintenance engineer (airframes), Aircraft maintenance engineer (engines), Aircraft maintenance engineer (mechanical), Aircraft technician (air force, army), Aviation technician aircraft (navy), Licensed aircraft maintenance engineer (airframes), Licensed aircraft maintenance engineer (engines)
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.
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.
How do I become one?
Education and training
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).
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.