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5 fascinating facts you must know about an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer

Amritpreet Singh, an alumnus of Apeejay School, Rama Mandi, works with Indigo as Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME). He carries out aircraft maintenance crucial for airline safety. In an interview, Amritpreet lists 5 key things you need to know about his profession.



1. We refer to the Aircraft Maintenance Manual to troubleshoot a problem

An Aircraft Maintenance Engineer is responsible for ensuring a glitch-free travel experience by certifying that the aircraft is operating in a fully accurate manner. Before take-off and after landing, we inspect the plane to ensure there are no problems. We have to conduct regular inspections of the aircraft to ensure appropriate functioning of each part and troubleshoot the snags. The engineers fix a problem by referring to the Aircraft Maintenance Manual (AMM) which is developed by the plane manufacturer. It provides detailed technical maintenance instructions for a specific type of Aircraft.

2. There are different types of aircraft maintenance engineers

There are two types of maintenance: Line duties such as pre-flight checks, refuelling and minor avionics, electrical and mechanical tasks. I deal with mechanical tasks. Mechanical engineers work on aircraft engines and aircraft systems such as electrical flight controls, undercarriage and braking systems, fuel, hydraulics, cabin pressurisation and more. On an average four people – two engineers and two technicians — attend to an aircraft.  The time taken to resolve an issue depends on the nature of the problem. Some issues require us to work all night. For example, Borescope inspection of the aircraft engine consumes a lot of time. This method involves inserting a small camera inside the engine body to get the live image of all the inaccessible components inside the engine on an LCD screen.

3. Technical snags are divided into 4 categories

Based on the complexity, the technical snags are divided into four categories. Category A problems need to be rectified on an urgent basis. For Category B problems we get a window of three days and for Category C and D, we get 10 days and 120 days respectively, to fix an issue. You would be surprised to know that issues related to Aircraft brakes come under the C Category. For some complex faults, such as Bleed Air Leak, we have to ground the aircraft. An aircraft Bleed Air Leak refers to the uncontrolled loss of bleed air (compressed air which is taken from within the engine) from any part of the aircraft pneumatic system or from the services which utilise bleed air. Aircraft use engine bleed air for a variety of purposes, ranging from engine starting to cabin pressure to anti-icing. If the issue is not fixed it could lead to damage to aircraft wiring, components to overheat, damage to aircraft structures or inflight fire.

4. Not a 9 to 5 job!

You have to deal with rotating shifts which are more difficult than fixed shifts because they require workers to readjust their schedule every week or month. My day shifts last for 8 hours and night shifts are 12 hours long. Two consecutive night shifts are followed by two successive days of rest. It’s a fast-paced environment where things are always happening at a rapid pace. You have to be on your toes and finish the inspection or troubleshoot a problem within a stipulated time period.

5. It’s tough to break into this field

After class 12, I either wanted to become a pilot or an Aircraft Engineer. Pilot training was expensive so I joined the JRN Institute of Aviation Technology, Delhi in 2010 to pursue Aircraft Maintenance Engineering. It was a three-year programme, but due to lack of guidance, I didn’t know that it’s a certification, not a degree course. I took a big risk. A student also has to clear the modules (exams) conducted by Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the regulatory body for civil aviation in the country, to get the AME licence. There are a total of 17 modules, but candidates have to clear the modules depending upon the chosen stream. After completion of my course, I worked as an apprentice in Air India for six months. I had to cough up Rs 35,000 for it. After that, I didn’t find any work for some time. It’s a highly competitive field. Finally, I got a call from Indigo and joined as a Trainee Technician. After numerous promotions, I am now an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer. Enter this field only if you are passionate about aircraft.

Dheeraj Sharma is Asst. Editor (Newsroom). He covers events, webinars, conducts interviews and brings you exciting news snippets. He has over 10 years' of experience in prominent media organizations. He takes pleasure in the small things in life and believes a healthy work-life balance is key to happiness. You can reach him at [email protected]