Getting the qualifications
Although a few universities or colleges offer suitable foundation engineering degrees “That will only get you so far,” when it comes to finding a job in the aviation industry, says David Ross, ALAE executive committee member.
A degree in aeronautical engineering, for example, will make you eligible for roles such as maintenance planners or development engineers. But they are not a gateway to ‘hands-on’ engineering roles actually maintaining aircraft.
Airline engineering departments are ideally looking for engineers with a Part 66 licence, which authorises a person to release an aircraft to service. They may take on engineers without a Part 66, but their work will have to be inspected by a suitably-qualified engineer before the aircraft can fly, which makes them less attractive to employers.
“A lot of people take a Part 66, then take a degree,” says Ross.
In the UK gaining a Part 66 means approaching the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and demonstrating that you have sufficient experience to be a meaningful candidate for licenced status. Forms are available on the CAA Safety Regulation Group website. If the CAA agrees, it will allow you to sit the relevant examinations.
The CAA website (www.caa.co.uk ) also carries the syllabus to which applicants wanting to take a Part 66 have to adhere. Look for the ‘Engineers Licensing Guidance Document’, which gives details of what is required (http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/33/ELGDbook_07_webversion.pdf ) The Part 66 is split into several sections; the ‘A category’ licence allows an engineer to carry out relatively simple tasks such as oil changes, while Categories B1 and B2 give an engineer the authority to release an aircraft to service.
A few establishments in the UK provide this specialist training and these can be found on the Flightglobal training site.
Getting the job
Established engineers looking for airline positions generally apply for vacancies on individual carriers’ websites, sending in a CV, their Part 66 and details of the type ratings they hold. Understandably, companies will check an engineer’s qualifications very carefully.
There will then be an interview at the airline, says Ross. “I’ve interviewed people for jobs and it comes down to two things: you know their trade background because they hold a licence , so you need to know that they understand the procedure and you want to know what they know about the company. Do they really want to come here?”
It may sound obvious, but doing some basic internet research on a company’s recent history, financial results and future plans is important. It shows interest, both in the company and that you’re giving some thought as to how the company’s future intentions may affect your role within it.