As well as hands-on technician and licensed engineer roles, aircraft maintenance also offers other interesting areas of work.
Airworthiness Engineers are particularly concerned with certification of aircraft to meet safety standards. For example, they may work for an aircraft manufacturer and be involved in the testing of new products such as composite structures used for a tailwing to achieve airworthiness certificates. Alternatively they may check that maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) work of existing parts also meets the requirements for certification for an MRO provider.They need to be aware of new regulations or changes to existing regulations imposed by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Airworthiness specialists can also be involved in evaluation of EASA and other international regulations as well as research into other areas which have an impact on aircraft maintenance and safety such as Human Factors and management and the introduction of new technologies.
Quality Assurance Engineers are also involved in ensuring that work is carried out to international quality standards such as ISO (International Standards Organisation) and overseeing quality audit procedures. They usually implement specialist software called Quality Management Systems (QMS) to monitor standards and ensure that work carried out by MRO technicians and engineers meets the standards, recording the processes involved. They may also work for an aerospace manufacturer ensuring that products meet manufacturing standards.
Other key areas for the smooth and safe running of MRO work include: materials inventories (ensuring that the right materials and tools are available to carry out the work); logistics (planning aircraft delivery, timing of deliveries of additional parts, replacements, the engineering expertise required in the right place at the right time); and health and safety - as aircraft hangars can pose many potential hazards for employees.
It is also important that the hands-on maintenance work is monitored around the clock for airlines so that if a problem occurs, such as an aircraft having its wings clipped by another while on the runway in Lanzarote ready for departure, staff can track what is happening, arrange for emergency engineers to get to the aircraft and carry out the repair work or plan alternative action if the flight is cancelled having a knock-on effect if it was due to pick up passengers for another flight later that day. These roles are often based in airlines' control centres, using the latest technology in database software to monitor maintenance issues throughout the airline's flight schedule and need people who are expert organisers, communicators and able to work under pressure.
MRO has also become a highly competitive market, especially as many low-cost airlines prefer to outsource their maintenance work rather than hire in-house technicians and engineers. Therefore, many maintenance firms will have commerical roles available aimed at increasing their customer base, winning new business and enhancing their relationships with existing customers.