Students who wish to work in the aviation industry can study aerospace or aeronautical engineering at the B.Tech. level or study aircraft maintenance engineering (AME).

Aeronautical or aerospace engineering deals with the design and manufacture of aircraft while AME trains one for servicing the aircraft.

In the aviation industry, aeronautical engineers, aircraft maintenance engineers and pilots are indispensable, though their duties are different.

The industry has three main areas—aircraft design and manufacturing, maintenance and flying. Aeronautical or aerospace engineering involves the application of engineering principles and technical know-how to design, construct and operate an aircraft. Aircraft maintenance engineers are responsible for keeping the aircraft in perfect flying conditions. They are involved in the repair and maintenance of aircraft.

Four-year B.Tech. and five-year M.Tech. dual degree programmes are available in aerospace or aeronautical engineering for Plus Two students with mathematics, physics, chemistry, biotechnology or computer science or biology as subjects.

AME

Aircraft maintenance engineering is not a degree or a diploma course, but a training programme. On completion of the training, a licence is issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

During the training, lessons are imparted for service and maintenance of aircraft so as to ensure flight safety. A three-year aircraft maintenance engineering licence training course is being offered by several institutes approved by the DGCA.

Those who have passed the Plus Two examinations with 50 per cent marks in aggregate in physics, chemistry and mathematics or a three-year diploma course in any branch of engineering or B.Sc. degree holders after Plus Two with maths, physics and chemistry are eligible for admission to AME training courses. There is no gender discrimination in admission. Boys and girls can seek admission. This training course in rigorous and only a few institutes offer training on heavy aircraft and jet engines. Total training cost will be around Rs.1.5 lakh.

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 equipments 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.

Apart from this, trainees are required to undergo structural aircraft type courses in mechanical or avionics stream. After successful completion of the training programme, the trainees will get a basic aircraft maintenance training certificate. This is followed by an examination conducted by the DGCA.

Those who qualify the examination will be awarded a licence. The three-year training is sufficient for a candidate to appear for the aircraft maintenance licensing examinations. After getting the DGCA- AME licence, one is required to obtain regulatory licence or approval on a type of aircraft. If it is an Airbus or Boeing, one has to obtain an individual licence to service that particular type of aircraft . Aircraft maintenance engineers are authorised to inspect the aircraft and certify its fitness.

Training facilities

Aircraft maintenance engineering courses can be pursued at the DGCA-approved institutes. In south India, the following institutes offer AME training. DGCA-approval of these institutes should be ensured before admission. AME covers mechanical stream which consists or heavy aircraft, jet engine, light aircraft, piston engines and avionics stream consists of electrical system, instrument system, radio navigation.

Rajiv Gandhi Aviation Academy, Bowenpally, Secundrabad – 500011 (AP)

Fly Tech Aviation Academy, Maredpally West, Hyderabad (AP)

Institute of Aircraft Maintenance Engineering, Old Airport Road, Gautam Nagar, Secunderabad (AP)

Andhra Pradesh Aviation Academy, Old Airport, Hyderabad- 500011

Hyderabad College of Aviation Technology, Hyder Nagar, Hyderabad

Sigma Aviation Academy, West Maredpally, Secunderabad- 500025

VSM Aerospace, Jakkur Layout, Bangalore

Hindustan Aviation Academy, Chinnappanahally, Bangalore – 560037

Hindustan Institute of Engineering Technology, GST Road, St. Thomas Mount, Chennai – 600016

Nehru College of Aeronautics and Applied Sciences, Kuniamuthur, Coimbatore – 641008

Coimbatore Aeronautical College, Coimbatore

Vinayaka Mission Aviation Academy, Salem – 636308

Southern College of Engineering and Technology, Chalakudy – 680307

Sha-Shib Aviation Academy, Nedumbassery, Cochin 683572

Regional Institute of Aviation, Pallichal, Vedivachan Kovil. P.O, Thiruvananthapuram – 695501

The list is only indicative. Details of more institutions can be obtained from the website www.dgca.nic.in.

Job opportunities

Those who successfully complete the training and obtain DGCA's licence 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.