Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME)
Career profile courtesy of SkillsCanada
I most enjoy walking into the hanger in the morning, and looking at all the really cool aeroplanes that I get to take care of on a day to day basis.
What is a typical day like for you?
A typical day for me is very busy. I get to the Hanger early in the morning (7 am), get my paperwork and toolbox prepared for the day. Throughout the day, I have aeroplanes, coming and going from our shop for types of routine inspections and maintenance. This involves taking apart the engine cowlings (which is like the hood of your car but for aeroplanes), wings, fuselage (body), and empennage (tail). Inspecting with my mirror and flashlight for any types of things that I may see wrong, I also perform tests required by the manufacturers of the aeroplanes to ensure that it fit and safe for flight. When the inspections and maintenance are complete I need to finish all the paperwork associated with the work I carried out. The maintenance that happens with aircraft, requires a lot of documentation to be filled out.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
I most enjoy walking into the hanger in the morning, and looking at all the really cool aeroplanes that I get to take care of on a day to day basis. Nothing beats sitting outside watching them taking off on an early summer’s morning when the sun is rising. I love that my job keeps me on my feet at all times, and there is never a time that I am not amazed by the types of defects I find when inspecting aeroplanes.
What is the least enjoyable part of your job?
The least enjoyable part of my job is the stress associated with it. Maintaining aeroplanes is a very stressful job that comes with a lot of responsibility. If something goes wrong, an airplane can’t pull over to the side of the road like a car. I always need to make sure that I am at the top of my game and that my 100 percent undivided attention goes into the tasks that I am trying to perform.
Explain the path you took to get to this job (education, internships, etc.).
In order to become an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer, you require Academic English, and Grade 12 (College/University Math), after graduating high school, I was accepted into Centennial College, Ashtonbee Campus in Scarborough Ontario. There I took the Aircraft Maintenance Technician course which was 2 years. After graduating from Centennial College, I was then considered an “Aircraft Maintenance Technician”. This allows me to work on aircraft but not sign what is called a Maintenance Release, which says the aircraft is fit and safe for flight. After 2 and a half years of working as a Aircraft Maintenance Technician and completing tasks in an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer logbook (a book of certain mechanical tasks that must be completed before you can become an AME) I was able to write my AME Licence through Transport Canada. Once that test is passed, I was an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer.
Who or what was the greatest influence that set you on this path?
I first started my career choice working as a car mechanic; I was unhappy and found that working as an everyday car mechanic did not give me the satisfaction that I was looking for in a career. I had always really been fascinated with the principles of aircraft flight and wanted to learn more about how that worked. Before I went to college I took a year to work at a small shop that built Amateur Built Aircraft (an aircraft someone can build at home with a set of plans). I had been sucked into the world of Aviation and could not get enough of aeroplanes.
What advice would you give others seeking a similar job?
Go to your local Airport and find an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer on the field that is willing to just take you through their shop and show you around at all the different types of aeroplanes that they take care of. Speak to your school guidance councillor and find out what classes you need to take to get into an Approved Training Organization at a College for Aircraft Maintenance Technicians. The most important thing that I can say is be patient, and have fun, go to some airshows and see if the atmosphere is for you, and if you really enjoy just being around the aircraft, I’m sure that you’ll fit right in.
That being said, any Skilled Trade that you have any information about, you should try to get involved with, and check out your Provincial /National Skills competition which is a show case of all kinds of Skills Trades, which are a great career choice if you also like working with your hands and want to make a great salary doing so. There is lots of demands for Skill Trades workers, and the demand is only going to get high which means that they are a great means of doing what you love and being very successful.
How does your job make a difference?
My job makes a difference because every day I make sure that aircraft are maintenance in accordance with the applicable standards of maintenance so that they fly people around safely. Without Aircraft Maintenance Engineers, there wouldn’t be any one around that was qualified to take care of the sophisticated systems designed into the aircraft that are flying over your head as we speak. We prevent fatal accidents every day, and it makes me proud to know that we make a difference in aircraft safety.
How do you use science, math and technology in your job?
Science, math and technology surrounds me in my job daily. First of all, the principles in how an aircraft fly and work are the same way that a lot of systems in world work. For example, Bernoulli’s Principle of Dynamic and Static pressures are the basics of aircraft flight, and that of how a carburetor works. Lower static pressure on the top of the wing due to a higher static pressure causes the wing to lift the aircraft to lower pressure (which is up in the air). A carburetor works with the same principle, air being sucked into the carburetor passes through a venturi, which speeds the air up, causing a low static pressure and the fuel to be drawn out of the fuel bowl.
I use math daily to calculate things that pertain to aircraft maintenance, such as sheet metal dimensions for making repairs to parts. We need to calculate bend allowance for the thickness and length of metal that we are working with, in combination with the angle of the bend we can determine how we must cut the metal to fabricate the part.
Technology is the primary focus of my industry. We are always working with the latest and greatest in aircraft navigation system which mainly revolve around GPS these days, communication systems that use VHF system (Very High Frequency), and engine analyzing systems which monitor the temperatures and engine parameters that are important for flight.
Is there one course you wish you had taken in high school but didn’t? Why?
College/University level Math courses. I wish that I had taken it because it was required to get into my College course and I needed to later on take an Adult Learning Center course to acquire it to get into college.
What makes this job right for you?
This job is right for me because I am a very particular person and I like things to be done to the manual right down to the little detail. So the great thing about aircraft maintenance is that every things needs to be done to the correct applicable standards and I find that it is a perfect fit because I like to follow them exactly as they are written.
What's the most bizarre or silliest thing you’ve ever done in this job?
I would have to say that maybe this isn’t the silliest thing but the most fun I’ve ever had during this job has been going flying with my boss in his Vans RV-4 which is a small 2 seater aeroplane that is very fast and nimble. We have flown all over the place, going over 180 mph across the ground. We fly from Breslau, Ontario to Brantford, Ontario in 7 minutes.
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
I really enjoying doing web design outside of work, and have a little business that I build webpages for companies.
I enjoy taking my dog Oliver (he’s a Weimareiner) to the park and going for walks with him around my neighbourhood with my Fiancé Valerie. I also like to tinker with motorcycles, cars, and anything mechanical that I can get my hands on. I like to spend time with my friends, and play Playstation 3.
You just won $10 million! What’s the first thing you’d do?
I would go out and buy myself a Cirrus SR22, a really, really nice small piston engine powered aeroplane. I would fly all around and try out restaurants around the country. I would pay off my house and buy a bigger, nicer one with some property and have a couple horses.
I think like anyone else, if I had ten million dollars, I would retire early, and keep the rest in the bank (after giving some to friends and family) and live off the interest until I got old!