By Laura Cronin 20 Apr 2023 5 min read

What does an airport engineer do?

Airports are complex infrastructures that require a wide range of professionals to ensure their smooth and safe operation. Among them are airport engineers, who are responsible for designing, building, and maintaining airport facilities, including runways, taxiways, terminal buildings, electronic systems, and other support structures. In this article, we will explore the main job responsibilities of an airport engineer, examples of the daily tasks that they do, and the skills and qualifications required to become one.

Airport Engineer job responsibilities

The primary role of an airport engineer is to ensure that the airport's infrastructure and systems are safe, efficient, and meets regulatory requirements. 

They monitor the condition of runways, taxiways, and other infrastructure, conduct inspections and tests, and recommend maintenance and repair actions when necessary. They also assess the impact of weather and other factors on airport operations and develop strategies to minimize disruptions. They work with other airport professionals, including planners, architects, and project managers, to ensure that new facilities are designed and constructed to meet the needs of the airport and its users.

Other responsibilities that an airport engineer can have include designing and implementing systems for air traffic control, baggage handling, passenger processing, and other critical functions of airport operations. They must ensure that these systems meet all relevant safety and security standards and keep them working efficiently.

In addition to designing and implementing airport systems, airport engineers are also responsible for managing the maintenance and repair of these systems, as well as identifying and addressing any issues or deficiencies that may arise. They must work closely with other departments within the airport, such as maintenance and operations, to ensure that these systems are functioning properly and that any issues are resolved as quickly as possible.


Daily tasks of an airport engineer

The daily tasks of an airport engineer vary depending on the airport's size and the stage of the project they are working on. However, some common tasks include:


  • Conducting site visits to inspect and assess airport facilities and infrastructure
  • Undertaking regular maintenance activities to ensure that all systems are functioning properly and complying with relevant safety and security standards.
  • Developing design plans and specifications for new construction or renovation projects
  • Maintaining records and documentation of all construction and maintenance activities
  • Communicating with other departments within the airport to ensure that all systems are functioning properly and addressing any issues that arise
  • Designing and implementing new systems to improve airport operations, such as automated baggage handling systems or advanced air traffic control technologies.
  • Working with contractors and other stakeholders to ensure that all construction and renovation projects are completed on time and within budget.

Skills and qualifications

Becoming an airport engineer requires a strong background in engineering and a range of skills and qualifications. In the UK, many airport engineers have a degree in civil, mechanical, or electrical engineering, although other related disciplines may also be acceptable. Some of the key skills and qualifications required include:

  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills and attention to detail
  • Great communication and interpersonal skills to work effectively with other airport colleagues and stakeholders
  • Time management skills, and the ability to work under pressure
  • Knowledge of relevant regulations and standards, such as those set by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
  • Experience with computer-aided design (CAD) software and other engineering tools
  • Project management skills to oversee construction projects from start to finish
  • Professional accreditation from a relevant industry body, such as the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) or the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE)

Airport engineers play a truly critical role in ensuring the safe and efficient operation of airports, helping keep things running smoothly behind the scenes so that thousands of flights can continue to take off every day.


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