By Laura Cronin 14 Oct 2022 6 min read

What are the main challenges of being an aircraft engineer?

What are the main challenges of being an aircraft engineer?

An aircraft needs to be repaired and replaced over time, as it is subject to stress due to environmental factors including heavy turbulence, weather or pressure on airframes. There are also design limitations and human errors which can prove extremely dangerous, so the aeroplane must always be in the best working condition as the aviation industry is responsible for the safety of the crew and the passengers. The certification to approve that the aircraft is worthy of service is issued by aircraft maintenance engineers. In general, they are responsible for ensuring the physical safety of the aeroplane. 

Challenges faced by aircraft engineers

When considering the responsibilities of an aircraft engineer and the duties they perform, these personnel are absolutely essential for the industry as a whole. Since the lives of people are at stake in the aviation industry, there is an added pressure on them to fulfil their tasks correctly. As with any highly important job, there are often challenges that aircraft engineers may face during their career, some of which are listed below;

Demand fluctuations 

Depending on where in the world you are based, the number of job opportunities available can be quite varied. In certain regions, there are fewer job openings for maintenance engineers due to fewer MROs and airlines. So competition can be quite high and jobs can be limited, meaning engineers really have to stand out during the application process. In many European countries, for example, airports are busier with aircrafts landing and taking off in higher volumes, so job opportunities may be more widely available.

Disturbed work-life balance 

Since maintenance engineer jobs are located at different bases, they often have to stay away from their families. They also have non-typical hours of work which can lead to increased health risks including physical impairments and psychological disorders. Their work-life balance can deteriorate when there’s a project deadline nearby and they are working hard to complete the project. Additionally, there are destinations where there is no maintenance engineer, so the airline has to send their own maintenance engineer to check the aircraft when it lands at that destination. 

Safety risks 

Maintenance work on an aircraft is risky itself because of its non-linear shape. The equipment can even cause personal injury to the aircraft engineers docking and custom scaffolding is preferred to ensure safety of the employees. Effective and practical measures should be used to avoid any accidents. Maintenance engineers also often have to work through elevated work platforms to refinish the repair and replacement of aircraft and their components. It's critical that safety procedures are always followed when working in this role.

Aircraft safety

One of the main challenges faced by aircraft engineers is the critical nature of the work they do. They're responsible for ensuring that the aircraft is safe for flying, keeping the crew and passengers safe. Maintenance engineers must pay strict attention to detail to ensure that everything is in perfect working order, with little margin for error. 


Skills required to overcome the challenges faced


To carry out the responsibilities and duties assigned to the aircraft engineers, they are expected to acquire certain skills. These include;


  • Attention to detail – An aircraft engineer must have a good focus and should be concerned about minute details of the aircraft as even a tiny bit of damage could prove fatal.
  • Work flexibility – The job requires the maintenance engineers to keep flexible working hours as any issue can occur at unpredictable times.
  • Interpersonal skills – Since the aircraft engineer has to interact with various other departments in the aviation sector, they should be able to explain issues eloquently. A slight miscommunication can lead to bigger problems. 
  • Problem-solving skills – An aircraft engineer is expected to identify issues in the plane and get to the root cause of those problems. Besides this, they must be able to rectify the problem. 


Frequently asked questions 

What are some challenges aeronautical engineers face?

From tight scrutiny of regulations to lengthened sales processes, there are some challenges that pose risk to the job of aeronautical engineers. Some of these challenges include manufacturing digitalisation, weaker supply chains, cyber security, increase in passenger traffic, and rigorous modernisation of existing aircrafts. 

What are the hazards of aircraft mechanics?

Working on the maintenance of an aircraft isn’t an easy job. It requires employees to often lift heavy objects and operate high powered tools. They may also have to handle chemicals that are dangerous. Noise and vibration are typical issues that aircraft mechanics are exposed to. As precautionary measures, they often wear ear protection and bright coloured vests for others to see them. 

What do you do as a aircraft engineer?

Depending on your area of specialisation, your work could involve the designing, construction, performance or maintenance of an aircraft. An aircraft engineer is primarily involved in manufacturing, analysis, and research and development of an aircraft. Their aim is to ensure safety of the passengers and the crew. 

What are some of the hazards in aviation?

In the aviation industry, hazards occur either due to qualitative processes or quantitative methodology. In general, hazards in the aerospace industry can be grouped into three types: natural hazards, economic hazards, and technical hazards. The safety management system of the aviation sector ensures risk management of the airlines. 

What are the disadvantages of being an aerospace engineer?

There are a few cons of being an aerospace engineer. One disadvantage being that many aerospace engineers have to move out of their cities to find work as the majority of aerospace jobs are available in certain "hub" locations. So, they may have to uproot their families and start over. Additionally, there’s a lot of stress and pressure to finish off a project which can be a negative influence on these engineers. 


Want to learn more about a career as an aircraft engineer? Read more articles here!