Airline Pilot: Job Description

Airline Pilot: Job Description

‘Pilot’ is the term used to describe an individual with the qualifications and skills necessary to fly a plane or helicopter. More specifically, an airline pilot is responsible for flying passengers and cargo on long-haul or short-haul flights. This can be for a number of purposes, such as leisure or business trips. There will usually be two pilots on board an aircraft; a captain and a supporting first officer. They will share the responsibility of the directional controls of the aircraft but the captain is responsible for the overall safety of the passengers and crew. On longer flights there may be more pilots on board and they will work in shifts to command the aircraft.

If you are well organised, prepared to study and train hard, have quick reactions and can keep a cool head under pressure, you may have what it takes to become an airline pilot.

What does a pilot do?

The day-to-day schedule of pilots can vary greatly depending on whether they fly regular short-haul flights or travel longer distances. Examples of tasks that a pilot will encounter are:

  • Checking that logistical information has been received, such as the flight path or route information, the forecasted weather conditions, the details of the aircraft that is flying and the passengers or cargo that are on board.
  • Once these details have been acquired, the pilot must plan the journey, which not only includes the route, but takes the amount of fuel and level of altitude that is needed when taking passengers and weather into account.
  • Run routine checks of all the safety equipment on board in case of an emergency.
  • Brief the cabin crew so that they can efficiently prepare the cabin for take-off and keep in contact with them throughout the flight.
  • Make contact with air traffic control to coordinate take-off. They should maintain this contact throughout the entire flight process.
  • Use the on-board controls to analyse flight data and make any necessary changes.
  • React to changing weather conditions and adjust the flight plan accordingly.
  • Must make sure that the aircraft complies with noise regulations during both take-off and landing.
  • Write reports in the aircraft’s log book after every flight, informing the management team of the quality of the flight, picking out any issues that arose during the flight, or any difficulties with the aircraft.

 

What qualifications do you need to become an airline pilot?

In order qualify as an airline pilot, you will need to gain an Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL). This can be achieved through any course approved by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), but a series of steps must be followed to start a course.

To begin with, you will need four GCSEs at grade A*-C (9-4). Recommended subjects include English, Maths and Science. If you can achieve a grade in a second language, this can also boost your chances over other candidates. You will also need at least two A-levels in similar subjects.

You must then pass several checks which are carried out by the CAA, to determine your suitability for flying. These will include a background check, a security check, and an Authority Class 1 Medical. These check whether you have a criminal record and ensure that your physical fitness, vision and hearing are appropriate for controlling an aircraft.

There are also advanced courses that you can take to boost your skills before gaining an ATPL which could improve your employment chances. Some universities offer a degree in Aviation which could make you a very strong candidate, however, these can be very expensive on top of an ATPL course. Another great way to gain experience is through a Professional Aviation Pilot Practice apprenticeship. This can be of little cost if you are still in education and is a great way to familiarise yourself with key skills before seeking further training.

Above all, it is wise to know whether a career as an airline pilot is for you. The Honourable Company of Air Pilots offers tests to inexperienced people, which aim to determine whether you are a suitable figure to become a pilot. This is an important thing to discover before spending money on course fees.

Once you have the necessary background to begin an ATPL course, you need to choose what type of course you wish to do. You must be at least 21 to achieve a license. The course can be completed in an ‘Integrated’ or ‘Modular’ format. An integrated course is a sustained period of training that lasts around 18 months. This is a combination of practical elements and theory work and requires no prior flying experience as this is an inclusive scheme that aims to give participants the necessary flying time to warrant an ATPL. This is an expensive option, with most courses costing in the region of £87,000-£89,000.

Another option is the modular training scheme. This method gives you the option to take training in chunks so that you can achieve specific modules at chosen times, letting you train when you want to. This is a popular method as it allows you to earn in between modules and reduces the overall stress of the course. As this course is more intermittent, you might need to have a private pilot’s license with 100-200 hours flying experience to allow you to complete the practical modules.

Airlines will sometimes offer sponsorship to participants in order to complete their course. This is a helpful way to fund your training which can be offered if pilots are in serious demand by airlines. This is something to look into early on as the contest for sponsorship is heavy.

If you are a qualified pilot in the armed forces, you can complete a civil aviation course to become a commercial pilot.

Throughout your career as an airline pilot, you will need to undergo regular training in order to maintain your license.

 

What skills do you need to become an airline pilot?

A career as a pilot is a very technical job and there are several skills that will help you become successful:

  • You need to show competence in working with technical data and engineering. Understanding how an aircraft operates and how the changes you make will affect the flight is vital for safety and efficiency.
  • This ties in with your knowledge of maths and physics, which need to be of a level that allows you to make educated decisions on flight paths and energy outputs.
  • The ability to communicate with others is key, as each pilot needs to be sure of the tasks they have to do, the cabin crew will need to know of any changes to the flight plan, and the passengers will want to know regular updates of their journey. All of these require you to explain yourself clearly to others so that they have the best experience possible.
  • Leadership skills are important as you will be responsible for a team of cabin crew and maybe even other pilots. It is important that you can work efficiently with others in order to maintain high levels of service and safety for everyone on board.
  • Teamwork is as important as leadership as you need to respect the rest of your crew in order for them to perform. Building a good relationship with your team will make operations more efficient and higher quality.
  • Having good coordination is extremely important when flying an aircraft because you will often have to do several things at once as well as complete precise manoeuvres for take-off and landing. This also involves things like spatial awareness when understanding the size of the aircraft you are flying.
  • Quick thinking is important as there will be plenty of times when you will have to make decisions in order to protect the aircraft from risks or potential hazards. The quicker you can react in situations such as sudden weather fluctuations, the easier it will be to avoid catastrophe.
  • Should any incidents occur, it is crucial that you have the ability to remain calm under pressure. A cool head will make far more sensible decisions and could be the difference between safety and disaster.

 

How much does an airline pilot earn?*

The factors that determine your salary as an airline pilot are detailed and can make the earnings range very wide. Most sources state that the range can be anywhere from £24,000 to £150,000+. Flying time, flying experience, aircraft type and airline can all be factors that affect your salary. For example, a first officer who operates a smaller aircraft for a small airline may only earn about £24,000 in a year. However, if you are captain of a long-haul Airbus for a major airline, you could be earning in excess of £140,000.

Experience is everything as a pilot. As you gain experience year on year, you will be worth more to an airline and your salary will continue to rise. You are likely to develop sets of benefits with your airlines as you move on.

Starting salary: £20,000 to £30,000

Experienced co-pilot or captain: £38,000 to £90,000

Experienced captain: £140,000+

Figures taken from the National Careers Service.

 

What are your career prospects as an airline pilot?

When you begin work with an airline you will start as a first officer and work under the captain’s orders. There will also be restrictions for where you can fly to and what conditions you can fly in. This allows you to gain experience before you progress. First officers will work towards becoming a senior first officer before being promoted to captain.

There are additional training courses that you must take before becoming a captain. You are more likely to move up to captain faster with a smaller airline which has a higher demand for talented pilots.

There are more progression goals you can set as a pilot, such as upgrading the size of aircraft you fly and transitioning to long-haul flights. You can also start to train other pilots to get their license or take a role as an examiner. More experienced pilots may want to take on management roles but this reduces the amount of flying time you get.

Read our guide to find out more about working as an airline captain.

*Salaries are meant as a guide and may vary depending on a number of factors.

Tim Peake set to open Futures Day at Farnborough

It’s that time of year again as everyone is preparing for one of the biggest dates in the aerospace calendar. From the 16th July, the Farnborough International Airshow will once again open its doors to the trade to do business, and the public for an unforgettable...

Pilot Careers Live flies into Manchester this weekend

England might be bringing it home but if you’re thinking about a career as a professional pilot, Manchester is the place you need to be tomorrow. Pilot Careers Live arrives at the Concorde Conference Centre at Manchester Airport between 9am and 4pm, with flight...

Win a Mosaiqe watch of your choice!

As we're a lovely bunch over here at Aviation Job Search, we've teamed up with Mosaiqe to bring you the chance to win your very own watch! Why Mosaiqe? When you choose Mosaiqe, you choose a watch that doesn't cost the earth, literally. As a sustainable watch brand...

Cabin Crew: Job Description

Cabin Crew: Job Description

Cabin crew jobs involve a lot of hard work and commitment but the rewards can be excellent. The leading airlines such as British Airways, Qatar Airways, Emirates, Thomas Cook, and KLM recruit large numbers of cabin crew and are often seeking individuals with customer service experience and language skills.

Cabin Crew are a vital part of commercial aviation for a number of reasons. Their role is to provide a high standard of customer care, but equally, they are responsible for ensuring that all the passengers are safe and secure before, during and after a flight.

What do cabin crew do?

The day-to-day tasks of cabin crew can vary depending on whether you are working as part of a long-haul or short-haul team. General duties include:

  • Taking part in pre-flight briefings about the flight, the passengers and the schedule.
  • Performing pre-flight checks to ensure that security equipment is working properly and that the plane is stocked with enough food for the flight.
  • Greeting passengers as they board and directing them to their seats.
  • Making sure that passengers are aware of safety procedures and demonstrating how to use emergency equipment.
  • Ensuring that hand-luggage is securely stowed.
  • Making announcements on behalf of the captain.
  • Serving food and drink.
  • Selling duty-free items.
  • Performing first aid if necessary.
  • Ensuring that passengers follow safety procedures in an emergency.
  • Making sure that passengers leave the plane safely.
  • Completing flight reports after the journey.

 

What qualifications do you need to become a cabin crew member?

You will need a good secondary education with a minimum of GCSEs in English and maths (grades A*-C or 9-4). Further study, such as A-levels, a foundation degree or even a degree in subjects such as languages, leisure and tourism, and hospitality management may make your CV more attractive to employers.

If you want to prove your commitment to the role, it may be a good idea to take a vocational qualification such as an NVQ or a BTEC. City & Guilds offer Level 2 and 3 qualifications in Air Cabin Crew.

Being able to speak another language is a particularly attractive asset as you will be coming into contact with customers from all over the world on a daily basis. Airlines will also value customer service experience very highly.

Airlines usually have their own list of requirements for cabin crew. These are likely to include:

  • A good level of general fitness and the ability to swim at least 25 metres
  • A valid passport without restrictions
  • Clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service.
  • A minimum height restriction as you will need to be able to reach all the safety equipment in the aircraft
  • A minimum age restriction which is usually 18  

 

What skills do you need to become a cabin crew member?

  • You will need excellent communication skills in order to understand and see to your customers’ needs, especially in the case of an emergency.
  • Cabin crew need to be dedicated to excellent customer service as their main role is to provide a comfortable and safe experience for their passengers.
  • Cabin crew members need to work together as a team to make sure that all passengers are looked after and comfortable.
  • Numeracy skills are useful for handling money.
  • In the case of an emergency, it is essential that cabin crew have the ability to remain calm.
  • The ability to deal with a range of people in a polite but firm way is important in such a confined working environment.

 

How much do cabin crew earn?*

Cabin crew tend to earn a base rate to which an hourly payment will be added for hours spent on flights. The following figures are the base rate. Some airlines will even offer additional allowances if more than one language is spoken fluently. Many airlines have additional benefits for their staff, such as discounted or free flights.

Starting salary: £12,000 to £14,000 (Take home salary will be closer to £20,000 with hourly payment)

Experienced: £15,000 to £18,000

Senior: £20,000+

Figures from Prospects.

 

What are your career prospects as a cabin crew member?

There are opportunities for cabin crew to progress into more senior roles. After you have gained some experience and demonstrated your commitment to the role, you will usually be promoted to the position of purser or chief purser. These roles come with the added management responsibilities of certain cabins, such as economy or business class.

The next step is usually to become a senior cabin crew member. The senior cabin crew manage all cabin crew on board a flight and it is their responsibility to ensure that the correct paperwork has been completed at the end of each journey.

If you have proven the ability to provide exceptional service in first class or business class cabins, there are opportunities to become VVIP cabin crew. These roles are usually on private aircraft and look after important private clients, such as government officials or members of royal families.

The skills that you learn working as cabin crew will help in training, sales, HR, and marketing roles and many cabin crew move on to such careers.

*Salaries are meant as a guide and can vary depending on a number of factors.

Tim Peake set to open Futures Day at Farnborough

It’s that time of year again as everyone is preparing for one of the biggest dates in the aerospace calendar. From the 16th July, the Farnborough International Airshow will once again open its doors to the trade to do business, and the public for an unforgettable...

Pilot Careers Live flies into Manchester this weekend

England might be bringing it home but if you’re thinking about a career as a professional pilot, Manchester is the place you need to be tomorrow. Pilot Careers Live arrives at the Concorde Conference Centre at Manchester Airport between 9am and 4pm, with flight...

Win a Mosaiqe watch of your choice!

As we're a lovely bunch over here at Aviation Job Search, we've teamed up with Mosaiqe to bring you the chance to win your very own watch! Why Mosaiqe? When you choose Mosaiqe, you choose a watch that doesn't cost the earth, literally. As a sustainable watch brand...

Flight dispatcher: Job Description

Flight dispatcher: Job Description

Airlines could not function efficiently without highly skilled people on the ground, ensuring aircraft are where they need to be at the right time. A vital part of airport life is the task of making sure that departures are on schedule – the individuals who take responsibility for this are known as flight dispatchers or aviation schedulers.

In airport operations, the airline captain and the dispatcher are held jointly responsible for the safety of the flight. Working with the pilot, the flight dispatcher creates a flight plan that enables the aircraft to arrive at its destination on schedule with the lowest operating cost. A job as a flight dispatcher or aviation scheduler involves a lot of pressure, but it’s a career that can be hugely rewarding.

The flight dispatcher must take into account the weather – both during the journey and at the final destination. That means studying winds, thinking about alternative destinations, fuel requirements, altitudes, and general traffic flow. The dispatcher’s signature, along with that of the pilot, releases the aircraft for flight. In this role, he is the go-between for the pilot and ground service personnel and keeps all personnel concerned with the flight informed about its status.

It’s also important for the dispatcher to fully understand navigation facilities, airline routes and landing characteristics of all aircraft operated by the airline. The flight dispatcher sometimes rides in the cockpit with the flight crew while the plane is taxiing to observe flight routes, conditions, and airports.

These employees are surrounded by people, teletype machines, telephones, and intercom systems in a noisy, busy atmosphere. Those who work for a small airline, carry on the duties of a meteorologist and schedule coordinator.

If you have excellent communication skills, high attention to detail and the ability to perform under pressure, a career as a flight dispatcher could be the right choice for you. Read on for more information on what a flight dispatcher does and how you can qualify.

What does a flight dispatcher do?

  • Performs the pre-flight duties as the cabin crew prepare for the flight
  • Provides the pilot with the advised route for an individual flight
  • Assesses weather reports and informing the pilot of any hazards
  • Makes checks on aircraft maintenance issues
  • Reviews aircraft weight, fuel loads and cargo loads
  • General duties to ensure the aircraft is safe and ready to fly
  • Reports to air traffic control and airport staff about departure times, and after departure, providing reports on aircraft status and predicted arrival times.

 

What qualifications do you need to become a flight dispatcher?

Although the entry requirements vary between employers, you will at least need a good set of GCSE’s before you begin training. Subjects such as English and maths at grade A* – C (9-4) are important.

A-levels will help your CV become more attractive to employers and there are some relevant subjects available, such as Travel and Tourism. Alternatively, you could study for a BTEC or Diploma in aviation operations. If you move on to study at university, there are degrees in travel or airline management.

Once you have been recruited, there is more training specific to the role. This will coach you in areas such as flight planning and scheduling, aviation regulations, and in how to use airline systems. Industry qualifications include NVQs in aviation operations on the ground and Level 2 Awards in aircraft dispatch and support flight operations.

 

What skills do you need to become a flight dispatcher?

  • You will need to be able to work under pressure in a fast-paced environment especially when flying weather is bad.
  • You will need to be decisive as flight dispatchers must make many rapid decisions concerning safety, flight regulations, and the economy of operations.
  • As day-to-day tasks rely heavily on computer software systems, calculators, weather charts, and loading reports, competence with technology is very important.
  • Good analytical skills are important to help with the interpretation of information and applying this to flight plans.
  • You will need to work closely with other flight dispatchers, pilots, and air traffic controllers, so the ability to work well in a team is very important.
  • This is a high pressure role which is responsible for the safety of aircraft and passengers so the ability to concentrate for long periods of time is essential.
  • As you will be relaying instructions to pilots and other flight dispatchers, you will need excellent communication skills to make sure you are clearly understood.

 

How much does a flight dispatcher earn?*

Trainee: £14,000

Experienced: £20,000

Managerial positions: £25,000 to £50,000

 

What are your career prospects as a flight dispatcher?

Flight dispatchers have the opportunity to progress to managerial positions and supervise others.

Some decide to take the qualifications necessary to retrain as air traffic controllers who help pilots navigate the airspace safely.

Each airport needs a team of flight dispatchers in order to function efficiently. As English is the international language of air control, there may be opportunities for work at airports across the world.

Search for the latest flight dispatcher roles on Aviation Job Search.

*Salaries are meant as a guide and can vary depending on a number of factors.

Tim Peake set to open Futures Day at Farnborough

It’s that time of year again as everyone is preparing for one of the biggest dates in the aerospace calendar. From the 16th July, the Farnborough International Airshow will once again open its doors to the trade to do business, and the public for an unforgettable...

Pilot Careers Live flies into Manchester this weekend

England might be bringing it home but if you’re thinking about a career as a professional pilot, Manchester is the place you need to be tomorrow. Pilot Careers Live arrives at the Concorde Conference Centre at Manchester Airport between 9am and 4pm, with flight...

Win a Mosaiqe watch of your choice!

As we're a lovely bunch over here at Aviation Job Search, we've teamed up with Mosaiqe to bring you the chance to win your very own watch! Why Mosaiqe? When you choose Mosaiqe, you choose a watch that doesn't cost the earth, literally. As a sustainable watch brand...

Aircraft Engineering: Job Description

Aircraft Engineering: Job Description

The role of an aircraft engineer involves the application of scientific and technological principles to the research, development and design of aircraft and their components.

Aircraft engineers research design specifications for aircraft and the relevant support equipment. The role sometimes involves the assembly, testing and modification of these components.

There are also aircraft maintenance jobs under the umbrella of aeronautical engineering jobs. These roles involve making inspections, overseeing maintenance, and servicing aircraft. This work is generally carried out in offices, factory production hangars or aeronautical laboratories.

Aircraft engineering also involves performance testing. Engineers aim to improve safety features and minimise fuel consumption and pollution. In fact, aeronautical engineering has an increasing focus on the environmental impact of aircraft.

Engineers may need to use aircraft computer-aided-design (CAD) software such as DOORs and NASTRAN, so there is often a call for software specialists and IT skills.

If you have an interest in the aviation industry, have a technical mind, and want to work at the cutting edge of technology, a career as an aviation engineer might be for you.

For a closer look at some of the more specialist roles in aviation engineering, take a look at our other guides:

What does an aircraft engineer do?

There are certain areas that an engineer might specialise in, such as systems, aerodynamics, avionics, or materials. The tasks that they might carry out include:

  • Supervising the assembly of aircraft systems and engines
  • Testing aircraft to measure performance and identify areas for improvement
  • Developing design specifications for aircraft systems
  • Applying scientific principles to improve the performance of aircraft
  • Researching the environmental impact of aircraft and taking action to minimise this
  • Investigating problems with aircraft or the causes of accidents
  • Creating reports for clients and providing technical advice
  • Maintaining aircraft and carrying out regular inspections

What qualifications do you need to become an aircraft engineer?

The tried and tested way to get an engineering job in the aviation industry is with a degree in aeronautical or aerospace engineering. Degrees that might also impress employers include mechanical engineering, electronic engineering, applied physics, manufacturing, mathematics and computer science.

A postgraduate qualification is desirable, and an appropriate Masters degree, or other education to Masters-level, is necessary to register as a Chartered Engineer (CEng). An MSc in aeronautical/aerospace engineering is useful if your first degree is in a different subject.

Postgraduate study may be the best way to progress and gives individuals a means of focusing on a specific area of aeronautical engineering. It’s recommended that job seekers gain some pre-entry work experience, either while studying on an aeronautical engineering degree course, or once qualified.

You may need to undergo psychometric testing, an eyesight test, and a physical. A security check is usually required before aeronautical engineers can start work.

There is also on-going training for aircraft engineers to keep up with technological developments.

Most large companies offer structured training for newly-recruited engineers and encourage professional ‘chartered’ status. This Chartered Engineer (CENG) status is granted by the UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC).

Some company training schemes are accredited by professional bodies, such as the Royal Aeronautical Society(RAES) or are provided with the input of universities.

Companies usually offer in-service training and short courses to meet specific training needs. Marshall Aerospace recruits up to 20 new engineering apprentices each year in a variety of specialist areas. These include airframe, avionics and electrical engineering, manufacturing, and mechanical/electrical/avionics design.

Schemes like this offer young aircraft engineers the chance to expand their skills and gain highly-regarded industry qualifications.

What skills do you need to become an aircraft engineer?

  • A technical mind with the ability to understand complex systems is very important because of scientific nature of the work.
  • A creative attitude to design and problem solving as this work is often at the cutting edge of technology.
  • The ability to interpret and analyse complicated information and put your findings into practice.
  • A desire to keep up with the latest technological advances in the field.
  • The ability to work in a team is important as you will be working with a wide range of people. You will need to be able to work with suppliers, clients and managers on a daily basis.
  • When overseeing the assembly of aircraft and their systems, project management skills will be valuable.
  • Excellent communication skills will help when giving technical and regulatory advice to clients and suppliers within the industry.

How much does an aircraft engineer earn?*

Starting salary: £22,000 – £28,000

Experienced: £28,000 – £40,000

Senior: £45,000 – £60,000+

Engineers with a Masters or research qualification can earn higher salaries. It’s also worth considering that the big employers will usually pay more.

Figures from Prospects.

What are your career prospects as an aircraft engineer?

For budding aircraft engineers hoping to find employment in the aviation industry, the good news is that prospects are excellent. This is a dynamic and growing engineering specialism across Europe, the Middle East and the US.

Many commercial airlines are expanding their fleets of aircraft to satisfy customer demand for global and domestic air travel. The defence industry also provides opportunities. Scientific research organisations and regulators such as the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) employ talented aero technicians and engineers.

Thanks to the expansion of global air travel today, and the demands of national security, there’s much activity in UK aero engineering. Large numbers of aeronautical engineers are required by commercial companies operating in the UK, including Boeing, Bombardier, BAE, Marshall Aerospace and Rolls-Royce. Across the Ministry of Defence and armed forces engineers are needed, particularly within the Royal Air Force.

*Salaries are a guide and can vary depending on several factors.

Tim Peake set to open Futures Day at Farnborough

It’s that time of year again as everyone is preparing for one of the biggest dates in the aerospace calendar. From the 16th July, the Farnborough International Airshow will once again open its doors to the trade to do business, and the public for an unforgettable...

Pilot Careers Live flies into Manchester this weekend

England might be bringing it home but if you’re thinking about a career as a professional pilot, Manchester is the place you need to be tomorrow. Pilot Careers Live arrives at the Concorde Conference Centre at Manchester Airport between 9am and 4pm, with flight...

Win a Mosaiqe watch of your choice!

As we're a lovely bunch over here at Aviation Job Search, we've teamed up with Mosaiqe to bring you the chance to win your very own watch! Why Mosaiqe? When you choose Mosaiqe, you choose a watch that doesn't cost the earth, literally. As a sustainable watch brand...

Aviation Apprenticeships

Aviation Apprenticeships

Going to university isn’t the only route to a job in aviation engineering, operations or maintenance. Apprenticeships give you the chance to complete a UK-recognised trade qualification while you’re working within an organization and earning a wage. Apprenticeship programmes combine college or university studies with practical training, so companies work closely with partnership colleges and universities. Government-approved aviation engineering apprenticeships are available through the RAF, Virgin Atlantic, Airbus and Rolls Royce to name just a few.

RAF Apprenticeships

The RAF offers engineering and technical apprenticeships through its Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering. The Aeronautical Apprenticeship is set up so that learning takes place during training in the classroom, and then in a practical work environment, so those on the course get all-round experience. The RAF offers a three-year Advanced Apprenticeship in Aeronautical Engineering, and an Aircraft Technician Apprenticeship (Mechanical) as well as an Aircraft Technician (Avionics) Apprenticeship. RAF Apprenticeships are appealing because they offer attractive pay and benefits, and there is the chance to also benefit from accelerated pay, on going training and worldwide travel.

Airbus Apprenticeships

Airbus offers apprenticeships at both UK sites – Broughton, North Wales and Filton, near Bristol. All apprenticeship programmes run for three years taking place in partnership with colleges or universities. Airbus also offers an enhanced Higher or ‘Undergraduate Apprenticeship’ in Engineering, which leads to a BEng with Honours (Aeronautical Engineering Manufacture) in the third year. This programme provides a real alternative to university, combining vocational and academic training, together with on-the-job experience.

Airline Apprenticeships

Virgin Atlantic runs an award-winning apprenticeship, which aims to produce highly competent technicians who will have great career prospects. Intakes are recruited annually every March via the Virgin Careers website. The Virgin Atlantic Academy of Engineering Training (AET) is an EASA Part-147 approved training organisation, providing Basic License, Type and Specialised courses in Aircraft Maintenance and Safety & Equipment. The academy serves Virgin Atlantic Airways and the wider aviation industry, including major and independent airlines, aircraft operators, maintenance companies, training companies requiring specialist support, and independent contractors.

Virgin Atlantic also offers an Aviation Operations on the Ground Apprenticeship which covers some of the main jobs involved in supporting the ‘taking off and landing’ part of what happens at an airport. This includes everything from maintaining runways to ensuring passengers receive their luggage at their destination.

British Airways offer apprenticeships in three key areas: Customer, Operations, and Business Support. If you choose Operations, you can specialise in Aircraft Maintenance, Heathrow Operations, or IAG Cargo Operations. The Business Support stream gives you the opportunity to work at the British Airways Head Office, in Project Management, or in IAG Revenue Management. If you would prefer a more customer orientated career, you can choose the Customer stream which has options to specialise in Customer Service or Customer Contact.

Browse our aviation apprenticeship jobs today.

Tim Peake set to open Futures Day at Farnborough

It’s that time of year again as everyone is preparing for one of the biggest dates in the aerospace calendar. From the 16th July, the Farnborough International Airshow will once again open its doors to the trade to do business, and the public for an unforgettable...

Pilot Careers Live flies into Manchester this weekend

England might be bringing it home but if you’re thinking about a career as a professional pilot, Manchester is the place you need to be tomorrow. Pilot Careers Live arrives at the Concorde Conference Centre at Manchester Airport between 9am and 4pm, with flight...

Win a Mosaiqe watch of your choice!

As we're a lovely bunch over here at Aviation Job Search, we've teamed up with Mosaiqe to bring you the chance to win your very own watch! Why Mosaiqe? When you choose Mosaiqe, you choose a watch that doesn't cost the earth, literally. As a sustainable watch brand...

Aircraft Mechanic: Job Description

Aircraft Mechanic: Job Description

Aircraft mechanics play an essential role in the repair and maintenance of aircraft and their components. They are responsible for performing routine checks on aircraft systems, such as electrical, communications, and hydraulic systems. They are also on-hand to help repair aircraft that have experienced problems or damage.

As there are many different types of aircraft used in the aviation industry, many aircraft mechanics specialise in particular areas. For example, those who specialise in avionics will focus on electrical systems and structural mechanics will work on airframe components.

Read on to find out how to become an aviation mechanic.

What does an aircraft mechanic do?

The following should give you a good idea of the duties and responsibilities of an aircraft mechanic on a day-to-day basis.

  • Making repairs to aircraft that have been damaged
  • Inspecting electronic and structural elements of aircraft on a regular basis
  • Diagnosing issues with aircraft and determining how to fix these
  • Making reports on the work done and any components that need replacing
  • Using specialist equipment to check aircraft systems are in working order

 

What qualifications do you need to become an aircraft mechanic?

In terms of aircraft mechanic education requirements, it is advisable to have a strong foundation in technical subjects such as maths and science. Although you don’t need a license to work as an aircraft mechanic, it is highly recommended to become fully qualified. Mechanics working without a license can only do so under supervision.

As mechanics are usually employed by an airline, they will specialise in the type of aircraft operated by that airline. Some airlines will, therefore, offer apprenticeships which will provide you with the relevant qualifications for the aircraft and components you will be working with. For example, the Virgin Atlantic apprenticeship scheme will leave you with two Level 3 National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) in Aeronautical Engineering and On-Aircraft Maintenance and an EASA Part 66 in the required categories for your role.

 

What skills do you need to become an aircraft mechanic?

  • You will need a strong sense of responsibility as the safety of aircraft and their passengers rely on your work.  
  • Due to the nature of the role, you will need to be able to understand scientific and technical principles.  
  • The majority of the work, such as testing and repairs will require you to have a methodical and systematic approach.
  • You will be working closely with engineering drawings so you will need to ability to understand and interpret these.
  • Should any unexpected issues arise with the aircraft, you will need good problem solving skills to help find a solution.
  • You will need high levels of concentration and an eye for detail to make sure that you haven’t missed any potential issues with the aircraft.
  • The role can be quite physically demanding, so a good level of agility and a head for heights are important.
  • You will need to take health and safety regulations seriously.
  • Your employer will need to be able to rely on your commitment to your role and your ability to work with colleagues.

 

How much do aircraft mechanics earn?*

The following figures should give you a good idea as to the typical aircraft mechanic salary in the UK.

Starting salary: £18,000 – £22,000

Experienced: £30,000 – £40,000

Senior: £50,000 – £60,000+

 

What are your career prospects as an aircraft mechanic?

With the aviation industry expected to continue growing over the next few years, the need for aircraft mechanics will also increase. Employment prospects are therefore looking good for the near future.

Aircraft mechanics have the opportunity to progress in their careers to supervisory positions where they can manage other mechanics and oversee operations in a hanger. Depending on the airline employing them, the earnings at this stage in a mechanic’s career can be high.

Search for the latest aircraft mechanic roles on Aviation Job Search.

*Salaries are meant as a guide and can vary depending on a number of factors.

Tim Peake set to open Futures Day at Farnborough

It’s that time of year again as everyone is preparing for one of the biggest dates in the aerospace calendar. From the 16th July, the Farnborough International Airshow will once again open its doors to the trade to do business, and the public for an unforgettable...

Pilot Careers Live flies into Manchester this weekend

England might be bringing it home but if you’re thinking about a career as a professional pilot, Manchester is the place you need to be tomorrow. Pilot Careers Live arrives at the Concorde Conference Centre at Manchester Airport between 9am and 4pm, with flight...

Win a Mosaiqe watch of your choice!

As we're a lovely bunch over here at Aviation Job Search, we've teamed up with Mosaiqe to bring you the chance to win your very own watch! Why Mosaiqe? When you choose Mosaiqe, you choose a watch that doesn't cost the earth, literally. As a sustainable watch brand...