By Laura Cronin 28 Nov 2022 6 min read

My path to receiving my category A maintenance licence

We recently spoke with Lutfullah Zahak, 'A' Licensed Engineering Apprentice at BA CityFlyer. He talked us through the path he's taken towards receiving his 'A' licence, what he's learned on his apprenticeship so far, and what his next steps are.


What made you decide to pursue a career in aircraft engineering?

I was always fascinated with mechanical systems within the Automotive and Aviation industry and how their components work together in making them the great machines they are today. I first started working with cars as a junior and made my way through to aircrafts in order to further develop my engineering knowledge.


What was it about the apprenticeship route that appealed to you?

The fact that you enrol just like you would for university. However what makes apprenticeships so great is due to the fact that all your course fees are covered by your employer and you are paid a salary as you learn and gain experience on aircrafts as a perk. Additionally once your course finishes you will usually get a contract letter that confirms your position in starting to work for your employer as a career progression should you wish to do so.


Did you have any role models or mentors who helped you early in your career?

I was fortunate enough to come across some amazing people in school and college, who understood the passion I had and slowly guided me to the right paths so I could find the right career route I was after.


What aspect of your role do you enjoy the most?

The fact that working on the line maintenance, you are always faced with different tasks which makes no day the same. A lot of technical thinking goes into rectifying aircraft problems and getting them up and running to operate safely in the sky. A lot of it involves troubleshooting which is the sort of field that really interests me the most. Additionally I have the privilege of working with some of the best engineers on my shift who are always supportive and assist me as much as they can so I can progress further in my career.


What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career so far?

The biggest challenge for me was moving away from home to carrying on with my training at an approved place. Being independent was almost a learning curve as well being quite tricky due the fact that I had to balance my lifestyle and studying at the same time far from home.


What has the experience of your apprenticeship been like over the last 3 years? Could you summarise what you studied each year?

My 3 Years was quite a compact course. In our first year we started doing college work for our qualifications in aviation maintenance followed by EASA module training study and gaining experience on live aircraft within a hangar facility. In our second year due to Covid-19 coming into effect during the early stages, we were furloughed and studied from home successfully completing all of our EASA modules. In our third year as restrictions eased off we then moved back to our home city and joined our employer to get as much experience in order to qualify for the end point assessment of our apprenticeship.


You recently received your A Licence, congratulations! How did it feel to qualify, and what are the next steps for you?

It is a feeling of joy that's very hard to describe, due to the fact that the past 3 years have been a roller coaster ride. You get a sense how much your knowledge and skills have developed since you started the apprenticeship. Additionally, getting the A license comes with many responsibilities as by company policy it's a recognition of competence level where you are trusted to have the authority to sign off aircraft minor tasks confirming you carried out the task In accordance with the appropriate legal documentation, and release aircraft to service making it a very important responsibility. 

My next step is to move up to the B1/B2 License stage where I will further develop my knowledge in Mechanical and Avionics parts of aircraft to a higher standard of degree which gives me the authority to sign off major aircraft tasks.

What advice would you give to any aspiring engineers out there who are planning their first career steps, or perhaps considering an apprenticeship?

The aim is to sell yourself out there by applying to companies in hope that an organisation can see the potential enthusiasm in you and hopefully offer such an opportunity. Searching and reading the field of specific apprenticeships you want to go into helps you determine whether it's the right career path for you or not. Moreover it's also beneficial to meet people from the industry and get their insight and what their career paths were like by following the apprenticeship route. This may benefit you in gaining an insight on the career field you may be interested in moving towards.


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