Flight engineers accompany the aircraft during a flight to carry out checks and make any the necessary adjustments or repairs that may become necessary while in the air. Whereas, aircraft engineers are technicians who ensure the safety of airplanes and that the maintenance of aircraft between flights is of high quality.
Most flight and aircraft engineers are based at airports and work for airline companies.
Some are also employed by aircraft manufacturers to assist test pilots and also to carry out final checks on an aircraft prior to its delivery. Other engineers work in the national air forces on defense-related duties, maintaining combat aircraft in a state of constant readiness.
Aircraft engineers are essentially technician engineers who receive reports from flight engineers and pilots at the end of each flight about any problems that may have arisen while the aircraft was in the air. Their job is to carry out a program of routine maintenance of aircrafts between flights, and also to use the reports from flight engineers and pilots to look for and solve specific problems. They make any repairs that may become necessary and ensure that the aircraft is airworthy and ready for its next flight.
When any new piece of equipment is introduced into an aircraft they must be fully aware with its operation and maintenance.
Each system within an aircraft is subject to checks. These include an inspection of the structural integrity of the plane to detect any cracks in the metal. All mechanical systems, including the undercarriage, brakes and tires, ailerons, flaps, and rudder, are also examined. Electronic systems, including those used for navigation, control of the aircraft, and communication with air traffic control must all be fully checked and operational.
Other aspects of the plane that are examined and maintained by these engineers include the fuel and fuel flow, the engines, and electrical power.
Flight engineers accompany an aircraft during a journey as a member of the flight crew. They assist the pilot with all the necessary pre-flight checks. Should any problem arise during a flight, they will give advice and, where possible, carry out emergency repairs.
The training of flight and aircraft engineers is usually a mixture of on-the job experience and academic study which takes between 2 and 4 years to complete. During training, each system within the aircraft is studied separately and in detail. Common faults that regularly occur are identified so that, in most cases, an early diagnosis can be made of what is wrong and the problem resolved.
Training includes gaining a thorough understanding of maintenance regimes, including the stripping down of many different parts and electronic checks on printed circuits. Trainees must achieve a clear understanding of the difference between normal flight conditions and situations in which serious problems could arise.
Academic studies, sometimes conducted on a part-time basis at a local college, include workshop training, mathematics, and the gaining of a thorough knowledge of the electronics and mechanics that are required for this type of work. The stripping down and reassembly to full working order of particular pieces of equipment are important abilities that all trainees must master.
Useful Qualifications to Have:
Useful subjects include mathematics, science, and physics.
The base salary range of a Field Service Engineer ranges from $55,609 to $77,617 annually, while the median salary for most Field Service Engineers is $66,325 annually. (US Base Pay)
Employment prospects for flight and aircraft engineers are generally good in most countries. The civil aviation industry continues to expand. The number of flights each year is highly dependent on the level of international business and the number of people taking holidays abroad. Both continue to increase each year.
The reliability of the electronic equipment is steadily improving, which leaves less work for engineers to do on the repair side. However, engineers are concerned with the whole aircraft and are not reliant on one system within it for their work.
The building of new aircraft is now so expensive that most are manufactured by multinational consortia of aerospace companies pooling their resources. This has reduced the number of opportunities to work within the aerospace industry. Employment with national air forces is entirely dependent on the need for air defense.
For further information, contact local airlines and airports and engineering institutions representing the interests of these engineers.