Career in Maintenance
Usha Albuquerque and Nidhi Prasad
If you are travelling by air and have arrived safely at your destination you have the Aircraft maintenance Engineers to thank. They are the professionals who work in the engineering and maintenance department of an airline and ensure the availability of safe and airworthy aircraft for the airline. Aircrafts of every kind need meticulous and consistent maintenance and grooming to ensure that they are safe and functional. The ground maintenance crew is the most essential component for any airline’s health.
India is one of the fastest developing countries in the world. Due to the liberalization policies of the government, there is tremendous growth in civil aviation. Many private airlines and corporations’ viz., Air India, Jet Airways, Indigo Airlines, Spice-jet, Vistara and others are operating today with very good operating revenues. To meet the growing need of the passenger airlines, cargo aircrafts, private air taxi operators, business and corporate jets, there exists an urgent need for aircraft maintenance engineers.
Aircraft Maintenance Engineers are trained to inspect an aircraft, diagnose problems, report the problems found and finally solve them.The job provides opportunities to work on sophisticated aircraft systems, such as commercial jets, military fighters or helicopters, and other types of aircraft.
While Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineers mainly deal with design, manufacturing and testing of aircraft, engines and components, AME professionals handle the maintenance of an aircraft, including its engines, electrical and navigation systems. Before a plane takes off, aircraft maintenance engineers, along with a team of engineers from different disciplines certify that it is airworthy, has been maintained well and is capable of proper functioning. Maintenance includes activities like overhauling the grounded aircraft at airports, hangars and workshops, replacing plane parts, treating corrosion and checking tyres, instruments, wheel flaps. There are also diagnostic and mechanical duties covering repair, maintenance, overhaul, troubleshooting, in addition to performing inspection and modification on the aircraft.
Aircraft Maintenance Engineering is a three-year training programme. Candidates who successfully complete the programme are issued license by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
AME has two major streams:
*Mechanical, which covers jet and piston engines, as well as light and heavy aircrafts.
*Avionics, which cover radio navigation, and electrical and instrument systems.
Mechanical stream focuses on engine, body and other mechanical systems of an aircraft so the mechanical engineer looks after the servicing and overhauling of engines. The Avionics stream focuses on electrical and electronic systems, instruments, radio system etc. and the avionics engineer handles the maintenance of electrical and electronic equipment.
The first year of AME training provides basic information about aircraft rules and regulations. In the second year, students learn general engineering and maintenance. The subjects taught include aerodynamics or theory of flight, metallurgy, electronics, handling sophisticated equipment’s and practical work in machine rooms and on aircraft engines. In the third year, the study focuses on specific areas like light aircraft, heavy aircraft, piston engines, jet engines or helicopters.
Those who qualify the examination will be awarded a license. At the end of the programme you are awarded the Basic Aircraft Maintenance Training Certificate. This is followed by the examination conducted by the Director General Civil Aviation (DGCA) after which you are issued a license to service the aircraft, or BAMEL. The examination conducted by DGCA covers the mechanical stream Category A and Category C of the aircraft maintenance engineering license examination. Avionics covers Category E (electrical), I (instrumentation), and R (radio). After getting the DGCA- AME license, one is required to obtain regulatory license or approval on a type of aircraft. If it is an Airbus or Boeing, one has to obtain an individual license to service that particular type of aircraft. Aircraft maintenance engineers are authorised to inspect the aircraft and certify its fitness.
Students of AME course can also appear and qualify as AMAeSI (Associate Membership of Aeronautical Society of India), which is considered equivalent to B.E. or B.Tech programme in Aeronautical Engineering by Government of India.
Candidates who want to pursue Aircraft Maintenance Engineering course should have completed 10+2 with at least 50 per cent marks in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. There is an upper age limit of 23 years to enter the programme. Upper age limit may be relaxed for those who have done three-year diploma course in engineering (in any stream) or B.Sc. after 10+2 with Physics, Chemistry and Math.
Those who successfully complete the training and obtain DGCA’s license are eligible to get jobs in airports and aircraft manufacturing or maintenance firms with an attractive salary. As more and more airlines start operations in the private sector, there will be an increase in demand for aircraft maintenance engineers and mechanics.
Aircraft maintenance engineers or aircraft mechanics readily find jobs in aircraft manufacturing or maintenance firms as well as airports. They can find jobs as engineers at Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), Air India, Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), BHEL, DRDO, Indian Air Force (IAF), Coast Guard and Airline Industries.
Candidates, who qualify as AMAeSI, are also eligible for M.Tech Admission in IITs through GATE, at Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi, and Madras Institute of Technology.
Some of the important AME training institutes are:
*School of Aviation Science & Technology- Delhi Flying club
*Indian Institute of Aeronautics, Delhi
*School of Aeronautics and Indian Institute of Aeronautical science,New Delhi
*Hindustan Aviation Academy, Bangalore
*Institute of Aircraft Maintenance Engineers, Hyderabad
*Rajiv Gandhi Aviation Academy, Secunderabad
(AIRCRAFT TRAFFIC CONTROLLER)-ATC
During peak hours through the night, Delhi’s international airport, is the busiest in India, with 200-300 planes landing or overflying the Capital’s airspace. Air traffic control officers (ATCOs) guide aircraft for safe take-off, landing and en- route navigation. They assist not only flights taking off from and landing in India, but also those flights between other countries which fly over Indian airspace. ATCs design the sequencing of air traffic in the air space and along pre-determined routes of arrival and departure to and from airports around the world.This involves monitoring all ground movements of aircraft, take-offs and landings, handling approach control monitors for approaching and departing traffic, and en route control by visual observation from the ATC tower’s windows and through radar. Every pilot depends heavily on the Air Traffic Controller (ATC), for directing the flight and on the ground for all manoeuvres right till the end of the journey.
An ATC complement comprises five units to help an aircraft fly. These are:
1. Clearance delivery unit (CDU): The aircraft calls this unit to provide all details, such as which route it is going to take, fuel requirement, number of passengers on board and so on. CDU will coordinate with area control unit, which conveys the go-head for clearance or alternative option for the aircraft, depending on the availability of the flight level (altitude).
2. Surface movement control (SMC): This unit issues start-up or push-back clearance for ground movement of aircraft. It is responsible for the plane’s movement and surveillance up to the ‘holding point’, the well-lit, well-marked portion close to the runway.
3. Aerodrome or tower controller: He gives the green signal for departure and landing of flights.
4. Approach control (or radar control): It guides the aircraft up to 60 miles from the airport, after which it hands it over to area control.
5. Area control unit: Area control has to give allocated altitude to the aircraft and take it to the designated route and finally hand it over to the neighbouring area control center (in another city). It has to ensure standard separation between the aircraft. High-pressure situations are common among the controllers, who need to wear headphones, concentrate hard on what the pilot is communicating, and focus on the computer and radar screen.
ATCOs are employed by Airports Authority of India, and known as a Junior Executive or Superintendent. Further, AAI imparts the air traffic controller training only after a successful recruitment.
As all the jobs for ATCs are with the Airports Authority of India, selection is made on the basis of the ATC entrance exam , a medical examination and an aptitude test.
You can apply for the entrance test after a degree in engineering, Electronics/ Telecommunication/ Radio Engg/ Electrical/ or a Master’s Degree in Electronicsor any discipline with electronics, telecom, radio physics, as specialization subjects, or Master’s with physics, maths or computer science with first division. Preference is sometimes given to CPL holders/candidates with basic knowledge of computers, keeping in view the technological changes that are taking place in the field of Air Traffic Management.
The written examination comprises of 4 papers from the concerned Engineering Branch, General English, General Knowledge, and a Numerical/Logic based test. Candidates also have to pass a Voice test, and go through the medical fitness test and a personal interview.
Those selected are sent to the Civil Aviation Training College, Allahabadand in Hyderabad, for a year long ab-initio training in subjects like Air Traffic Services, Aerodromes and Ground Aids, Air Legislation, Meteorology and so on. Once recruited, all the costs for training are borne by the Airports Authority of India.
SKILLS OF A SUCCESSFUL ATCO:
*High proficiency in English language
*Ability to concentrate in quiet and busy situations
*Logical thinking and analytical ability
*Ability to make decisions at jet speed and concentrate hard for hours at a stretch
Civil Aviation Training College, Allahabad and finalists are sent to Hyderabad, (for area control center training)
With a growing civil aviation sector, India needs more ATC controllers to service new and expanding airports. While the Airports Authority of India (AAI) is the main employer of civilian ATCs, in India, there are some jobs with companies such as Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, and some small private airports. The Indian Air Force also recruits Air Traffic Control Officers who are responsible for providing control and advisory services to Pilots of Military and Civil Aircrafts.
(Usha Albuquerque is Director and Nidhi Prasad is Senior Counseling Psychologist at Careers Smart Pvt. Ltd New Delhi. email: firstname.lastname@example.org)