By Laura Cronin 02 Dec 2022 7 min read

What does an aircraft engineering apprenticeship consist of?

Apprenticeships in aircraft engineering provide opportunities for students to combine their work with studies and receive a salary while continuing with the learning experience. The aspiring candidates learn not only the theoretical aspects of aircraft engineering, but also get hands-on practical training from industry experts and engineering professionals during the apprenticeship. 

For those who are interested in taking a vocational approach to gain qualifications and experience in aircraft engineering, an engineering apprenticeship is an ideal option. 


Role and responsibilities 

Aircraft engineering apprentices are trained to be fully competent to perform assigned tasks on an actual aircraft. They also learn to acquire both practical and theoretical techniques and skills to become qualified aircraft mechanics as they get to work within the hangars at base maintenance. 

They are provided all the safety equipment to continue with daily aircraft inspection and maintenance. Additionally, they are taught to uphold security and safety procedures as per the regulations of the CAA. 

Apprentices get to work with industry professionals to hone their engineering skills and learn the repair and maintenance tasks in both the hangar and ramp environments. They are able to develop different skills through work rotation and learn to handle sophisticated aircraft equipment. 

Since they work alongside highly skilled engineers, they also perform unscheduled aircraft rectifications and respond to quick changes in demand over the day. 


Apprenticeship programs of different airlines

A number of exciting new opportunities are available for those passionate about aircraft engineering. Many airlines offer their own apprenticeship programme, varying in level and duration. Here are a few apprenticeship programs offered by some of the top airlines in the UK.


1.       British Airways
British Airways offers a salary of £13,200 per year to those qualifying as Aircraft Maintenance apprentices. During the program, apprentices get to work with the best talent over the job rotation. It’s a three year program, so during the first year, the candidates receive the qualification for Level 2 – Diploma in Aerospace and Aviation Engineering along with CAA approved Part-66 A Licence Modules They study and work on all the aircraft fleet used by the British Airways. In the next two years, they attain their Level 3 Engineering Technician and achieve a Diploma in Aviation Maintenance (level 3).

2.       Virgin Atlantic
Along with providing a formal qualification, Virgin Atlantic’s apprenticeship programme gives you the opportunity to work and learn through on-the-job training, online courses, and classroom-based learning. Their apprenticeship scheme includes Level 3 Engineering Technician – offering the candidates to work on the greenest and cleanest fleet from Boeing 787 to Airbus A350 and A330, along with getting a Cat A licence in aircraft maintenance. It’s a two year program that involves all aspects of operation of an aircraft. They offer a structured programme with enhanced learning experience.

3.       TUI
TUI offers a starting salary of £15,357 per year along with an incremental salary and a fantastic progression. Their apprenticeship programme does not include visa sponsorship. TUI’s Aircraft Engineering Apprenticeship is a four year programme that gives candidates a chance to work on real aircrafts. Through this programme, candidates can achieve a Level 3 Engineering Technician apprenticeship – that helps you specialise in Aircraft Maintenance Technician. You can also receive a Level 3 Diploma in Aircraft Maintenance, thus developing a financially rewarding career in TUI’s Engineering & Maintenance department.

4.       Ryanair
Aimed at those who have studied an aviation or mechanical discipline, Ryanair's Apprentice Programme is run each year in Dublin, Stansted & Prestwick. No practical aviation experience is required to be an apprentice with Ryanair

Recruitment in aircraft engineering apprenticeships

There are very few work placements that lead you to apprenticeship programs in aircraft engineering. Many of the apprenticeship openings help candidates receive an engineering licence. Here are a few organisations that can uplift your career in aircraft engineering. 

BAE Systems
The organisation offers degree apprenticeship job openings to candidates interested in the engineering program. They accept applications at different development stages, from intermediate to degree level. The program typically lasts for five years –Level 2 diploma in aviation and aerospace is completed in the first six months of the program. Then, a Level 4 diploma is completed in advanced manufacturing after which a bachelor’s degree is conferred to the students. 

Thales Group
An international firm, it offers services in various fields including defence and aerospace. They offer on-the-job learning experience to the aspiring engineers.

One of the business divisions of Babcock includes the aviation sector. To pursue a career path in the aviation industry, the best sectors to apply for apprenticeships include aviation and marine. 

Royal Air Force apprenticeships
The RAF currently offers 23 different roles that come with apprenticeships rated Outstanding by Ofsted. These are available in a wide range of careers including aviation operations, engineering and IT. The range of qualifications that can be earned in the RAF range from a level 2 (equivalent to 5 GCSEs), a level 3 (equivalent to 2 ‘A’ levels), to a level 7, equivalent to a Masters degree.

QinetiQ apprenticeships
The company works in defence technology and has an apprenticeship training school. It offers numerous opportunities for candidates aspiring to learn engineering courses along with achieving technical development as well as some non-technical skills. 

A renowned international company, Boeing offers apprenticeship programs to train students in aircraft maintenance, flight services, aircraft fabrication, and HR services. Their programs last from six months to two years. 


Airbus invests in their apprenticeship programme to bring the best talent forward. Since young students are the future of the aerospace industry, they are offered apprenticeships with salaries. They receive hands-on training as well as academic qualification in order to contribute to the company. 


Frequently asked questions 

What is the work of aircraft engineering?

Aircraft engineers are specialised in the technological and scientific aspects of an aircraft. They are involved in research, designing, and development of devices and components that operate air vehicles. Aircraft engineers demonstrate their software and engineering expertise by using computer-operated systems to design effective solutions. 

What are the skills required for aircraft maintenance engineer?

Aircraft maintenance engineers possess both the technical and soft skills to perform routine tasks. They need to exhibit great interpersonal skills to consult and assist other departments in the aviation industry for design and testing of the aircraft. They must have great problem-solving skills to not only identify problems but also provide effective solutions. They must also focus on attention to detail so that not even a single issue is overlooked. Additionally, they need to work as part of a team and tackle challenges through their critical thinking abilities. 

Are aircraft engineers in demand?

The simple answer is yes. With the aviation industry expanding worldwide and air travel being prioritised by governments all over the world, it is not uncommon to say that there is a shortage of maintenance engineers, and airlines and other businesses are looking for skilled and licensed aircraft maintenance professionals. 

Browse the latest aircraft engineering roles here.