Aircraft maintenance engineer

aircraft technician aircraft maintenance mechanic
Engineering
Produce

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

Aircraft maintenance engineers or mechanics are responsible for checking the systems on aeroplanes and helicopters in between flights to ensure the aircraft is safe to fly. To work in aircraft maintenance, you will need specific qualifications and certification.

Just as pilots are trained and then licensed to fly, aircraft maintenance engineers are trained and licensed to maintain the aircraft to industry standard.

There are two types of maintenance:

  • Line duties such as pre-flight checks, refuelling and minor avionics, electrical and mechanical tasks.
  • Base maintenance in an aircraft hangar, when you’d do more stringent checks, fault diagnosis and repairs.

If you work in mechanics, you’d service the fuselage, engines, landing gear and airframe systems including any electrics associated with those systems.

If you focus on avionics, you’d check the electrical and electronic systems used for navigation, communications and flight control.

You would need to check the parts and systems, find any faults and decide if they can be fixed. You’d then organise or carry out the repairs.

It’s a responsible job; you’d need to check the aircraft carefully and be meticulous with your repairs.

 You could work on commercial or private aircraft or work on military aircraft for the Royal Air Force, the Royal Navy or the Army.

Working conditions

Travel

Engineers and mechanics often have to work abroad to support airline operations at overseas airports. You may be asked to support in an aircraft on the ground (AOG) situation, when an aircraft is stranded due to technical problems. If you work for the Royal Air Force, the Royal Navy or the Army you could be posted abroad.

Hours

Your hours might include weekends and may include work at night time, so rotating shift patterns tend to be the norm.

Environment

Your tasks would be both indoors and outdoors. Depending on the area of maintenance (base or line) that you are employed in and the nature of the task. These may be carried out within a maintenance hangar or on an airport ramp.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Explaining things
  • Working as part of a team
  • Following instructions
  • Accuracy
  • Working with your hands
  • Repairing and fixing
  • Finding solutions to problems
  • Time management
  • Paying attention to detail

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

Keep track of your skills in your account and find the jobs, opportunities and courses that suit you.

Click here to view / add your skills

Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on Apprenticeships.scot.

Qualifications

You could complete an aircraft maintenance apprenticeship leading to a relevant qualifications such as the Scottish Vocational Qualification in Aeronautical Engineering(SVQ Level 3).

Entry for this varies from employer however most look for a minimum of four to five subjects at SCQF level 4-5. To undertake an apprenticeship you will normally have to complete aptitude tests. 

Or you can apply after undertaking a full time course such as a National Certificate or National Qualification (SCQF level 6), or with a relevant Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7), Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8) or a degree (SCQF level 9/10) in areas like: 

  • Aircraft Engineering
  • Aero-Mechanical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering technologies
  • Maintenance Engineering technologies
  • Engineering

Alternatively you may be able to move into this role if you are already qualified and working in other engineering fields.

Alternatively you can train for this role within the RAF (see RAF Profiles).

Entry is very competitive so many employers will look for National 5 (SCQF level 5) and Higher (SCQF level 6) qualifications or above.

You can enter Aircraft Engineering Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma courses (SCQF level 8) with National 4/5 qualifications and one to two Highers or equivalent qualifications.

To enter a degree (SCQF level 9/10) usually requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of four Highers at B or above or a relevant HNC/HND. 

Useful subjects

  • Maths (required by most courses and employers) 
  • Science subjects, in particular physics (required by most courses and employers) 
  • English
  • Technologies subjects such as engineering science

You will also need

To become a fully qualified aircraft maintenance engineer you must acquire an EASA-approved ‘Part 66’ maintenance licence. In the UK this is awarded by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). 

You may have to pass a medical.

Certain colour vision requirements may apply.

Helpful to have

Qualifications that show understanding and experience of the industry such as Skills for Work Engineering Skills (SCFQ level 4).