#BeAnAwesome: Aircraft Maintenance Engineer

Kunalan Marimuthu Marumuthu Kunalan, Head of the Aircraft Maintenance Engineer Training Programme at Nilai University College talks to coursesmalaysia.com about three rules in the aerospace industry: safety, safety, and safety.
Kunalan Marimuthu Marumuthu Kunalan
Head of Aircraft Maintenance Engineer Training Programme, Nilai University College

In view of the fact that AMEs must have good technical, scientific, mathematical and inventive minds, they must demonstrate patience, motivation, determination, perseverance and strong problem-solving skills. Apart from that they must be excellent communicators and 'team players', since aircraft maintenance requires the work of a number of people working together. They should be able to visualise problems in three dimensions and work well on computers.

What will I do?

All aircraft (with the exception of ultralights) must have a valid Certificate of Airworthiness to fly. An aircraft maintenance engineer (AME)'s task is to ensure that the aircraft in his or her charge keep (or obtain) these certificates via a series of detailed inspections and repairs. These range from routine inspections to emergency repairs to an aircraft waiting to take off.

Aircraft are complex machines and need to be properly maintained. Pre-flight inspections will include routine checks, plus checking any non-essential faults. Similarly, post-flight inspection will include regular checks and maintenance, as well as anything reported by the crew. In addition to this, during an aircraft's lifespan it will undergo numerous scheduled checks, at various flight-hour (FH) intervals (depending upon requirements) which could be anything from simple maintenance of a light aircraft to major overhaul of an airliner.

In essence, this is an extremely important job. The lives of crew and passengers alike are dependent on you. People entrust their lives to you in the hope that you maintain and repair the aircraft properly.

Is it for me?

If you are considering becoming an AME, here are some things you should ask yourself:

  • Do I enjoy repairing things?
  • Can I function in a wide variety of working conditions?
  • Am I thorough and meticulous in nature?
  • Do I have a good head for numbers?
  • Can I work well under pressure?

How much will I earn?

Aircraft maintenance engineering has a reasonably structured pay scale. Starting salaries will look something like this:

  • Mechanic: RM1,600
  • Technician: RM2,000 
  • Engineer without type rating: RM3,500
  • Engineer with type rating: RM5,000.

Who will employ me?

This is a profession in demand, in a global multibillion-dollar industry. There are literally thousands of companies worldwide that employ AMEs. These range from small maintenance companies servicing private single-engine aircraft to major airlines like MAS and international lease operators like ILFC, which operate Boeing 787s and Airbus A380s. You could also join one of the Malaysian armed forces: the army, navy and (of course) the air force which operate numerous types of aircraft, such as F/A-18 Hornets, MiG-29s and the latest Sukhoi Su-30 multirole fighter.