When we are in the airport, a lot of times we can see the pilots and cabin crew walking by us and begin admiring their glamorous career on board the aircraft, but do we know who is the one responsible for the maintenance aspect of the aircraft that they working on? That person is Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineers, he is the one responsible to make sure that an aircraft is save to fly, to carry passengers or cargo's from one point to another point.
All aircraft maintenance engineer must have a license from local aviation authority to exercise his privilege which is to certify that an aircraft the he had inspected is fit for release to service.
How to become an engineer? Well, first of all you must have an interest on the aircraft itself because if you do not like it or feel that there is nothing special about an aircraft then it will be more likely that you will not pass the exam or test to get the license. Practical knowledge is essential as it will make it easier to answer the questions in the license exam.
There is a lot of aircraft maintenance engineer training school that offering course to become an aircraft maintenance engineer, in fact Malaysia Airlines as well as Air Asia does have their own training department to recruit new aircraft maintenance engineers.
Training normally will took around 4 to 5 years, Malaysia Airlines for instance will provide an allowances to the trainees that join their training program however they will be bonded for few years once the trainee succeed his training program and established as licensed aircraft maintenance engineer.
Aircraft maintenance engineer can be divided into few categories, it can be Line Aircraft Maintenance Engineer or Base Aircraft Maintenance Engineer, apart from that they furthermore can be divided into trades that they are rated which is either Airframe Maintenance Engineers, Engines Maintenance Engineer, Avionics, Electrical or Radio. Aircraft Maintenance Engineer can be multiple trade as well. Normally Airframe Engineer will hold Engine license. Electrical, Avionic and Radio Aircraft maintenance engineer normally has all 3 rating with them.
Line Aircraft Maintenance Engineer normally attached in front line of service as they handle the aircraft for departure or in transit in the airport terminal while Base Aircraft Maintenance Engineer is the person who will inspect an aircraft when it is in the hangar for major inspection.
For trade classification, Airframe Maintenance Engineer will responsible to the defect or inspection related to the airframe part of an aircraft which is the fuselage, flight control, hydraulic, air conditioning system, including the passenger seats and so on. Engine Maintenance Engineer for the engine and auxiliary power unit of an aircraft, same goes for other trade. However only Airframe and Engine rated aircraft maintenance engineer has the privilege to release an aircraft back to service (flight) as a whole, for instance if there is a defect of electrical component, electrical maintenance engineer will rectify it however he will only certifying whatever job he did, before the aircraft can fly, the airframe and engine engineer then inspect the aircraft base on the inspection procedure laid down by the manufacturer and then certify that the aircraft is safe to fly. Certification will be in a form of signature plus the approval number from authority or company, stamped or be wrote down on the aircraft legal document which will be on board. One copy of the signed document will be leave on the ground before the door of the aircraft close for departure.
Once he put his signature in that document, he is responsible for the safety of the aircraft, the passengers, the cargo as well as the crews. Anything happen to the aircraft, licensed maintenance engineer that released the aircraft for flight will be the one that will be called by the aviation authority for an investigation. Base on this information I'm sure know the readers will realize who has the biggest responsibility once the aircraft lift off from the ground.