The Other Side of Aircraft Maintenance Nobody Talks About

The life of a Licensed Aircraft Engineer (LAE) or aircraft maintenance technician is amazing, to say the least – which such a cool job, nobody can disagree! Working amongst manmade marvels is truly an experience like no other, and the fact that they get to admire magnificent aircraft all day is just so rewarding!

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However, there’s a side to working as an LAE or technician that is not often talked about. As with any job, it isn’t always a walk in the park. Challenges are bound to present themselves and some are not to be taken lightly – read on to find out!


The Massive Responsibility and Accountability

Time Lapse Photography of White Commercial Airplane


Being responsible for the safe operation of aircraft is, no doubt, a high-pressure and demanding aspect of the job. LAEs and technicians must ensure that their tasks pertaining the maintenance of an aircraft is properly carried out, so that it may safely transport hundreds of lives across vast distances. The complex nature of aircraft (and aircraft systems) means that a small error, or mismatch in parts, can cause grave consequences.

In the well-known case of British Airways Flight 5290 – popularly referred to as BA 111 – a cockpit windscreen panel, which was improperly installed, separated from its frame during the flight. The dislodged panel caused the plane’s captain to be blown partially out of the aircraft; he remained pinned against the window frame for 20 minutes! Investigations found that some of the bolts used to secure the windscreen panel were of the incorrect size. Thankfully, there were no fatalities as the first officer managed to land the plane.

This seemingly trivial mistake is just one of many cases in which small slips and lapses have led to unimaginable situations.


The Odd Hours, Long Days (Nights), and Unforeseen Circumstances

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Aircraft maintenance often revolves around shift work. This is because airlines have a flight schedule to follow, as well as a maintenance schedule to uphold. Inevitably, LAEs and technicians will experience their share of extremely early mornings, late nights, and ‘back of the clock’ work. Sometimes, an issue with the aircraft may arise, which requires extra time for inspection and rectification. And there are instances when an operator may call for an emergency repair caused by unforeseen circumstances.

Yet, LAEs and technicians are always on their toes, ready to take on any challenge. And the beauty of working in a team is that they are never alone. A team of LAEs and technicians always have each other’s backs – making those odd hours, long days and nights, and unforeseen circumstances nothing they can’t handle!


The Working Conditions

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Now, judging from that heading, you might wonder whether LAEs and technicians have poor working conditions – of course not, they don’t! However, mother nature isn’t always so predictable! This is especially true for those working in Line Maintenance, which is carried out whilst the aircraft remains in the operating environment; in other words, on the apron, in the outdoors.

In the summer months, or for those working in the equatorial region, work is carried out in the sweltering heat. And in the cooler months, there may be chilly winds or even snow (to a maximum permissible amount, before the runway is shut).

But, not to worry: LAEs and technicians are not out on the apron all day, as they often have an indoor office where they will be stationed.  Plus, one of the many wonderful things about working out there is you get an up-close view of aircraft taking off and landing – which is just spectacular! Who else can say their ‘office’ has that view!


So, what do you reckon? Are these really challenges you can’t handle? If you think you have what it takes to be an LAE or technician, head over here to get started! Or if you already have a background in aviation, click here to find out how you can join us!



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