A flight engineer is a vital team member in ensuring the safety of passengers and a fully working aircraft, engineers conduct crucial checks and testing before the aircraft is deemed worthy for travel. The role of a flight engineer is a rewarding and challenging career and can offer a lucrative salary.
Below you will find a description of the responsibilities of a trained flight engineer, as well as details including; working environment, expected wages, progression opportunities and required skills & qualifications.
What does a flight engineer do?
A flight engineer’s responsibilities range from detailed checks, to on the spot maintenance and providing assistance to the pilots.
The general duties of a flight engineer include:
- Responsible for component checks, ensuring everything is in working order.
- Completing repair work if any mechanical issues are identified.
- Assists in interpreting flight-related gauges and instruments.
- Assists with pre-flight navigation preparations.
What qualifications do you need to become a flight engineer?
A bachelor’s degree is typically required to become a flight engineer, with subjects such as; Aircraft Engineering with Pilot Studies, Aviation Engineering & Aeronautical Technology the most applicable to the role. Although it is not a foregone conclusion that you will be overlooked without having a degree which is directly related to the industry, candidates who have degrees in a relevant discipline are likely to stand a better chance when submitting an application.
In addition to this, candidates who hold a professional pilot’s license will be more sought after than those without.
Individuals who can display a high level of mathematical and technical ability will also strengthen their application.
What skills do you need to become a flight engineer?
Flight engineers must be capable of working under pressure and be able to make quick & accurate decisions, with extremely high attention to detail. Strong communication skills are also vital within this fast-paced working environment, with the ability to lead a team and work as part of one.
Experience of flying an airplane is also very advantageous, as this shows capability in reading instruments and dials, as well as a familiarity with the tools used on an aircraft.
A high level of fitness will also be needed for the role as carrying out duties will entail lots of walking from site to site, climbing of ladders and heavy lifting.
There is no set working schedule for this role and applicants must be willing to work any day of the year, including nights, weekends, bank holidays and Christmas. Long shifts are to be expected when working on long haul flights and engineers can sometimes spend lengthy periods away from home.
Jet lag could be an issue for some engineers and in extreme cases, health issues such as depression have been known. Exposure to radiation is also common which can increase the risk of cancer and lead to fertility problems.
How much does a flight engineer earn?
The average salary for a flight engineer based in the UK can range between £45,000 – £97,000 per year. The average salary recorded by Aviation Job Search in 2019 is £60,277.78.
The average salary for a flight engineer in the US, more specifically Florida can be around $148940, according to Recruiter.com.
Engineer salaries can earn similar salaries to those of pilots and rank amongst the best paying jobs in the UK.
Salaries can differ from via region and airline, with the higher salaries typically found in and around London. Experience, qualifications and seniority will also generally result in pay rises and open up more opportunities for flight engineers.
What are your career prospects as a flight engineer?
Many flight engineers are employed by the military and companies which use larger aircrafts which use new technology. The introduction of computerised assistance on aircrafts has limited opportunities on small, commercial airlines but more advanced aircrafts use different systems and are more prone to problems, requiring the expertise of trained engineers.
Some countries also state that planes with three or four engines must carry a licensed flight engineer, by law.
If you feel you are suitably qualified to become a flight engineer and are not phased by the working hours and environment then you can find the latest flight engineer vacancies here.