In the world of aviation there are many factors involved regarding the operation, maintenance and upkeep of aircraft. Maybe none are more important than the role of aircraft maintenance engineers.
To understand an aircraft maintenance engineer's job and responsibility, it is also important to understand the basic role and definition of an engineer as it applies to avionics.
The definition of an aircraft engineer is 'To plan, manage, and put through skillful acts of aircraft design, planning, construction and operation'. To be more precise in describing role of aircraft maintenance engineers, would be to say that they oversee any problems, issues or defects regarding the integrity of an aircraft.
It is because of this important job description that the aviation industry constantly seeks to find newly trained engineers in order to maintain and support their respective aviation fleets. This presents a great opportunity to those willing to take it.
There are two classifications of aircraft maintenance engineers. The first is what is known as a Line Aircraft Maintenance Engineer. A Line Engineer oversees the operational integrity while the aircraft is in use...such as traveling from destination to destination. They will make inspections in a very timely manner as needed when an aircraft is waiting or soon to be departing
The other main classification is a Base Aircraft Maintenance Engineer. A Base Engineer will attend to aircraft inspections and oversee repairs typically while the aircraft is not operating and is sitting in an airplane hanger for instance.
Aircraft maintenance engineers can often focus on a certain sub-section of aviation engineering. Some of these categories are airframe and powerplant, hydraulics, electrical and aerodynamics. Due to the complexity of most aircraft and the fact that their safe and proper operation is paramount to the safety of the people who fly in them, specific maintenance focused on one avionics discipline is very common in today's industry.
Maintenance engineers in military aviation play a particularly important role. They of course perform similar duties that commercial aircraft maintenance engineers carry out but in addition they have the responsibility of overseeing and maintaining the most advanced aircraft in the world. Because of this added responsibility, they typically have more advanced training to be able to perform their functions, such as diagnosing and maintaining advanced weapon systems. In fact, some of the training and skill that military aircraft engineers possess and perform aren't even known to the public due to highly classified planes and procedures.
Aircraft maintenance engineers typically have to complete a 4 year undergraduate study curriculum and usually 2-4 more years of specialized avionics study and training in order to become a licensed aviation engineer.