What do ex-military aircraft engineers think of their civvy job?
Hi, I'm sorry if this has been done before.
I am just wondering how working in civvy aircraft engineering compares to RAF TG1 and 2?
Would you recommend it over the RAF?
Can you please dispel some myths, we blue suits hear a lot of horror stories... 1. The civvy aircraft industry is mostly contract work with little job security. 2. Even guys with JAR66 have difficulty in finding jobs. 3. The accountants run airlines not engineers. It's all cut throat penny pinching. 4. Airlines are now looking at maintenance been done by some peasants in Eastern Europe to save a few pennys. 5. Experience in the RAF doesn't mean much in the civvy aircraft industry.
Rather bizarrely, most aircraft techies I know in the raf want to work off-shore in oil and gas rather than plunge into the civvy aircraft engineer world. I find this worrying as I know more about aircraft engineering than anything else.
Speaking of big jets and commercial transport - although the technology on the aircraft is similar, the jobs are miles different. There are different ways of making the same tasks work and some methods are totally alien to the military frame of mind. (Tool control for instance...)
Each mechanic/engineer has responsibilities for what they do and what is recorded. There is possibly four people between you on the Line and the largest boss in the company. Your name and reputation can grow quickly - in either direction...
If you can start with a basic Licence that makes life much easier - but you still need a type rating to make it the best possible option. Studying for Part 66 before you get out is essential, not something to take on lightly. Getting a T/R is about getting on with your job and with those that can put your name forward for a course. I believe that is why most TG1/2 decide to go the Windfarm/off-shore/rail routes - easier qualifications for possibly better returns. "They" also make a clean sweep of moving out of the mob - new life, completely new job and possibly a new location too.
Having said that - ex-mil people who put their hearts in to their work do quite well.
There is no "promotion" in civvy street so you either make do with where you are - or you move on to other jobs. There is no-one to make decisions for you and no-one, apart from your family, to help make those decisions.
I got to being a Part 145 Quality Manager within 7 years of getting out moving to three jobs to get there - but I had (and used) CAA licences well before leaving the mob.
Can you please dispel some myths, we blue suits hear a lot of horror stories... 1. The civvy aircraft industry is mostly contract work with little job security. Depends on how you are employed - Connnie or Permie. There is as much security as there is in ANY job at the moment 2. Even guys with JAR66 have difficulty in finding jobs. Depends mainly on what Types/licences you have, but there is a smaller amount of employees too. 3. The accountants run airlines not engineers. It's all cut throat penny pinching. If you don't make/save money where you can - there is no job! The MOD is the same nowadays. 4. Airlines are now looking at maintenance been done by some peasants in Eastern Europe to save a few pennys. See Q3 - even the RAF contracts out...but some aircraft are too small to fly across the EU for a cost saving excercise 5. Experience in the RAF doesn't mean much in the civvy aircraft industry. All experience counts - but some doesn't count towards a Licence
Having left the RAF in the last year, and done my B1 & B2 licence modules, I am currently contracting as a mech for my years experience.
I find the Civvy world a MUCH better working enviroment than the RAF. Sadly I have to say the quality of the standard of engineering I have seen is much higher than in the RAF, where the airforce has cut and cut the skillbase of the general aircraft tech, the average civvy is adept at everything from deep structural repairs to stripping engines.
The working ethic is pretty similar, and you actually get ASKED if you want to do overtime rarther than get told, and you get the nice bonus of being paid for your overtime!
The other major difference is that lack of skill & knowledge can no longer be hidden behind a rank, I have seen a number of people in the RAF with a very poor understanding of the job they are paid to do, as Rigga says, you will get found out VERY quickly in the real world if you don't know what you are doing.
I have found it quite a steep learning curve to be honest, but if you ask questions & use the experience around you, you will be fine.
Would I go back in the RAF ( I did 12 years)... Not a chance, it is amazing how much the system holds back excellent engineers who are no good at politics or sucking up to the right people .... Incidently there have been a couple of ex-forces guys I have worked with who still thought they had a rank, and were above the normal "mech" work, both got shown the door rarther quickly!!
Totally agree with the above, the RAF in my time you got to broaden you horizons, in my case Wessex, Puma, Chinook, Jaguar, little engine bay (couple of months, enough to learn avoid that job) VC10..
I was lucky, I had a wide range of experience to draw on, today the RAF seems to be more blinkered in you seem to get one type and that's you.. With the various types I worked on it gave me a wider understanding and knowledge..
As said you tend to do more in depth than the RAF would, which is a benefit, myself having done jets, VIP etc.. I do the lighter side of the industry these days and on the whole it is fine, though you will deal with owners etc that think they know more than they actually do... Might suprise you but my licences have several hundred types on them, from DC 6 through to stuff I don't even know what they look like, such is group ratings... Also I an quite happy resparing wings or pulling cylinders, something in the RAF would entail specialised repair teams.
have to agree with most of the above. after my time in the RAF i have definatly not looked back and now a B1.3 on the offshore support helicopters in Aberdeen. I get paid more than a Sqn leader, and I control my own life and destiny. the job is hard work at times, but its certainly not anything like being in the RAF! get a trip away somewhere on OT and you can earn yourself a nice little wad of cash. like £3k for a week away is by no means difficult to achieve. lots of time off if you are on shift.
Also from an operational point of view. i can take an aircraft away and i dont need a team of Cpl, SGT, F/S, WO or J/SEngO to cover and Reds and greens etc. i can do all that myself. a lot less layers of wasted manpower.
Location: A civilised little County..with a bit of eccentricity to boot
As others have said, there's a world of difference between the two operating regimes.
Equally, you make the choice as to where you want to work eg, airlines / biz jets / GA / helicopters / product support for OEM's to name but a few examples. Don't get fixated on the airline world alone.
You will find the standards do vary in the civilian world from company to company however, but overall tend to be higher( this comes as as shock to many in the RAF when they make the transition although it is not to denigrate the RAF in any way) with the emphasis on yourself in contrast to the "chain of command" to make the often protracted decision process for you.
As for promotion, well that's up to you and whether you wish to move around. If, for example, you are on an outstation on the line, then it's usually dead mans shoes in contrast to being on a base where there are more Depts eg Quality / Maintrol / Tech services / Commercial.
Frankly, once you are out, just keep your eyes, ears and mind open, forget the RAF and it's rank structure but do remember the basics and the experience you have gained.
The general knowledge of LAEs and Mechanics is higher that the military, not surprising as knowledge on any type is earned by experience, and many LAEs are time served civilian apprenctices of 20+ years experience.. Then again many are ex RAF! However the health and safety ascepts of some companies is a joke compared to the RAF, but hey, that costs money! (not as much as the compensation claim later mind!) Its getting use to the differing terminology, practices that are mandatory, the fact that the LAE has the last shout if a job is good enough or not, commericial pressures to get the job done in time, although safety and quality should never be compromised, etc, etc.. AMM, IPC and SRM are similar to Topic 1, 3 & 6, but ATA 100 format is the order of the game.. forget chap 15 is airframe! Many RAF people have made the jump, helpful if you have done some EASA modules, because you will have some idea what the differences are, but you are classed as time served.. Agencies don't mind that, however you need a valid HF/FTS2/EWIS cert to get into connying...Plus the basic tool kit!
Can I put a word in for the other types of aircraft engineers that didnít go for the licence but instead went for the Design/development side of aviation (not maintenance)?
There are amazing amounts on this side of the fence that are not form the commissioned either. Just like the B1 &2ís we have had to get our academics up to scratch. The companies in this field do look at those with HNC,D or BEng/BSc over those without and in my experience its ex-service people doing a lot of the deciding. There are a lot of jobs out here for this type of engineering BUT even though, I get the impression that there arenít enough people to fill all the tasks they are still being choosy. So coming out armed with some form of academic qualification to back you r decades of experience will tend to give you the competitive edge.
On that note listen-up; RAF types are up against it. There are a large amount of Navy and Army who at the end of their ĎTiffs course go on to do a top up degree that is accredited by a professional body; e.g. RAeS. Should you choose to go into this side of things then be prepared for a fight with the other services... they are very good with their aircraft knowledge and skills! (plan to leave years before you leave by getting qualified) There are loads of contractors but here you have to have prerequisite skill to get a job that a company wonít pay a permíy to do. So things like benefits and training donít always come with the job.
That said there are lots of jobs associated to both military and civil sectors around this country. One of the things that I have found is that the larger company s have a core of people and invite in lots of smaller contracting companies so if you are looking for a job donít just look at the big manufacture/design organisation, look for the smaller associated suppliers that place people on long term contracts inside companies. This will tend to give you greater flexibility and choice in what you do in all cases and these companies may pay for further/continued professional development.
As for pay you are going to have to fight for it! Itís not impossible to get what youíre on now you just have to know how sell yourself Ė itís true that some companies take into account your pension but think about this:
ē You earned that with the last outfit you were in and itís nothing to do with them!
ē If they are going to quibble with your pension then I take it they are going to quibble with the new CEO Ďs golden hand shake from their last organisation?
ē A company has to appeal with you as much as you have to appeal to them...are they worth it?
In short Iím loving it on the outside - but there again the military life had run its course with me so I jumped a few years back, just as the banks started to collapse. I still found plenty of opportunities at the time and I am having plenty more put in front of me now as my experience increases.
As Sumps says - it takes two to get a Job: The employer has to offer it to you - but you decide whether to accept it or not.
Just because you've been offered a Job does not mean you should take it!
Just recently I turned down the "perfect job" that I've spent years deciding would be the perfect scenario - just a cycle ride from my house and 20% increase on my pay - but it was going under (and has since)
I think a lot of the posts in here answer your questions. I'm doing the same as ironcheffley, and I left as a TG1 sootie four years ago. I did my B1.3 License and I haven't looked back since. I get paid well, but my company expects me to earn this, most of the time . All management want is a serviceable aircraft at 6am on a monday morning, ready for the first rig trip of the day. It's big boy rules on the outside and you have to be ready to make the decisions that matter. There is no rank structure, you're on your own, or if you're lucky, a couple of apprentices to tag along and clean things for you!! It is different, but the basic stuff of taking an aircraft apart and rebuilding it are the same. Once you get your head round being an LAE and not being in the mob anymore, it is a far better life, with a common sense approach to things being much more prevalent. If you are going to make the step, do it sooner, rather than later. The step isn't that big and your RAF experience does count for a lot, just don't talk about it all the time and you'll get on fine.