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 commercial roles available aimed at increasing their customer base, winning new business and enhancing their relationships with existing customers.
The RAF also offers excellent engineering training and roles working on state-of-the-art technology. School leavers can enter as Mechanical specialists in the General Technician trade who work on everything from heavy plant machinery to hydraulic lifts for aircraft. The RAF’s technician training earns you a National Engineering Certificate at Level 3 and an Advanced Apprenticeship, including an NVQ Level 3. Qualifications required are 3 GCSEs/SCEs at Grade C/3 minimum or equivalent in English language, Maths and an approved science/technology-based subject. Joining age is usually between 16-29.
Graduates can apply for the RAF’s Engineer Officer route for which other professional qualifications are also considered (GCSE English grade C/3 minimum also required).
Many RAF technicians and engineering officers move into civil aircraft maintenance when they leave the armed services, with training grants often available for licensed engineering qualifications.
However, many airlines have slimmed down their aircraft maintenance divisions, transferring their engineering to work to other airlines or specialist maintenance companies, resulting in an overall decrease in apprenticeship opportunities. However, there are now seveal university courses which offer an alternative route into aircraft maintenance.
Kingston University has designed a series of academic courses from introductory to honours degree level combined with professional qualifications, working with KLM Engineering, BA Engineering, the Newcastle Aviation Academy and City of Bristol College.
The University of South Wales offers a three-year full-time BSc Aircraft Maintenance Engineering which also leads to an EASA Part-66 aircraft engineer licence. Both universities incorporate relevant work experience, an essential element of the qualification route for certified engineers.
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