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Aircraft Maintenance

Love at first flight
Aircraft maintenance Engineering Does the roar of an airplane soaring in the blue skies get u all excited? Remember the last time you sat in an airplane? Did you wonder as to who the hell could dream of having a machine flying, while you just sit there in your seat, munching on free sweets, & watching the clouds go by.

Always dreamt of working for an airline? Think about it- living in style, traveling all around the world, getting postings at major cities and most of all being around the airplanes that you love so much. The aviation field offers two major careers to choose from : A pilot, and of an Engineer or Technician. (Yeah yeah controllers, air-hostesses, stewards…. also co-exist). Now a pilot obviously flies the aircraft, while the technician ‘maintains’ the big birds in order to prevent any sudden ‘snags’, that could even cause it to drop like a stone!!

Alright, so you gotta have real love, I mean REAL LOVE for aircrafts, to prepare yourself to get into aviation. Why? Coz that’s what keeps you ticking in case you get frustrated and feel like walking out on your career. Trust me, you’ll keep getting that feeling till you retire!

Gettin’ choosy
When it comes to getting into aviation, most people prefer to become pilots and rule the skies rather than stay onground and ‘clean up the mess’. Also, the pilots get paid much, much higher than a technician. But in the end, as I’ve repeated once too often, it’s what you love about airplanes that matters most.

Wassat’ you say?
Getting to become an AME is getting to know all the inside stuff as to how the whole system functions in order to get an aircraft to fly. And it’s not just learning the working, but also keeping the aircraft in peak operating condition. That is done by aircraft mechanics and service technicians who perform certain maintenance procedures which include the inspection of engines, landing gear, instruments, pressurized sections, accessories, brakes, valves, pumps, and air-conditioning systems, etc.

Some technicians work on one or many different types of aircraft, such as jets, propeller-driven airplanes, and helicopters. Others specialize in one section of a particular type of aircraft, such as the engine, hydraulics, or electrical system. Powerplant mechanics (‘P’ man) are authorized to work on engines and do limited work on propellers. Airframe mechanics (‘A’ man) are authorized to work on any part of the aircraft except the instruments, powerplants, and propellers. Combination Airframe-and-Powerplant mechanics called A & P mechanics work on all parts of the plane, except instruments. The majority of mechanics working on civilian aircraft today are A & P mechanics.

Basic qualification and course info:
To join a ‘Certificate Course’ in AME all you need to do is clear your 12th (or any equivalent exam) with a minimum of 55% (that’s surprising, isn’t it?), Science (Physics & Maths compulsory. But make sure it’s government approved. An entrance exam is held once a year for these qualified candidates and only a max of 30 students are recruited per year at each institute.

The course is of six semesters (3 years approx.) including practical training and workshop practice. Practical training is given to the students by the institute itself. The entire course would cost you around Rs.50 – 52 grand. It is very important to join a government approved, well-reputed institute to get proper training from experienced h institute. You can get all further information on other institutes, including those out of Bombay from the club itself.

Upside:
– Great Moolah : Once you get into a good airline (with a little pull, that is) you’ll soon be raking in the moolah. Technicians can be paid anywhere between Rs.4800-Rs.9600 per day!! Bigger the airline more the moolah.
– Almost Free Air Tickets : Airline technicians/mechanics and their immediate families receive reduced fare transportation.

Flipside:
– Work Conditions : AME’s usually work in hangars or indoor areas, though hey may have to work outdoors sometimes in unpleasant weather when the hangars are full or when repairs havta be made done quickly.

– High Stress levels : Mechanics often work under tremendous time pressure to maintain flight schedules or to keep from inconveniencing customers. At the same time, mechanics have a tremendous responsibility to maintain safety standards, and this can cause the job to be stressful. Besides the 40-hours-of-work-a-week on 8-hour shifts around the clock and overtime, you’ve also got to continue studying throughout your career.

Continuously touching up on changing technologies is part of the continuous strain you’ll face all round. You stand a good chance of completely losing your hearing if you show-off by standing near a jet-engine without your ears protected while everyone else has their ear-muffs on. Job opportunities Aircraft maintenance is a well-established area of aviation technology with continuing requirement for entry-level personnel. The outlook for aircraft mechanics should be favorable over the next 10 years, although things aren’t all that bright right now, what with so many private airlines shutting down.

– Job opportunities are likely to be the best at small commuter and regional airlines, repair stations, and in general aviation. Because wages in these companies tend to be relatively low, there are fewer applicants for these jobs than for jobs with the major airlines. But most jobs will become available as experienced mechanics leave for higher paying jobs with airlines or transfer to another occupation. AME’s and Technicians will face competition for large airline jobs, because the high wages and travel benefits for these jobs attract more qualified applicants than there are openings.

Prospects will be best for applicants with significant experience. So you know all you ever wanted to know (including some parts which you didn’t) about Aircraft Maintenance Engineering. It’s a real tough job with loads of responsibilities handed over (more like dumped), the most important being the safety of passengers on board. But it’s really worth all the hard work put in. So if you like greasy hands and dislike gravity, go ahead, you know exactly what you have to do because you definitely fit the bill! – Shirish Vallicha

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