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Why I Love Being an Aircraft Engineer

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Why I Love Being an Aircraft Engineer

Old 20th Nov 2020, 05:22
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Smile Why I Love Being an Aircraft Engineer

Hopefully not too 'corny'. Here I am in my 'twilight years', still in aviation after over 45 years, teaching at an A&P mechanic school in the US.

Attempting to motivate new students, I'm looking for input from folks on what has made them happy to be in aviation as an Aircraft Engineer - what type jobs. My aviation career has been mostly in the air - F/E and pilot, but began as an A&P (US Navy first). I know there are so many different jobs Engineers (A&P's in US) can hold. One of my 'favorites' is the job the guy that puts out VIP B777 youtube videos as (I am sure) a fly along mechanic has.

I am hoping to gather enough inputs from PPRuNe to copy and paste into a document to pass out to the students in an attempt to motivate them. It's a different world out there and I'm thinking if I was able to (easily) gather peoples inputs (about great aviation gigs) and motivate some folks, that would be wonderful.

Thanks for your positive inputs.

Last edited by slowto280; 17th Dec 2020 at 23:20. Reason: spell correct
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Old 21st Nov 2020, 11:29
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Originally Posted by slowto280 View Post
Hopefully not to 'corny'. Here I am in my 'twilight years', still in aviation after over 45 years, teaching at an A&P mechanic school in the US.

Attempting to motivate new students, I'm looking for input from folks on what has made them happy to be in aviation as an Aircraft Engineer - what type jobs. My aviation career has been mostly in the air - F/E and pilot, but began as an A&P (US Navy first). I know there are so many different jobs Engineers (A&P's in US) can hold. One of my 'favorites' is the job the guy that puts out VIP B777 youtube videos as (I am sure) a fly along mechanic has.

I am hoping to gather enough inputs from PPRuNe to copy and paste into a document to pass out to the students in an attempt to motivate them. It's a different world out there and I'm thinking if I was able to (easily) gather peoples inputs (about great aviation gigs) and motivate some folks, that would be wonderful.

Thanks for your positive inputs.
I don't suppose getting paid and going home is quite what you are looking for.

However, you've posed a very interesting question, one with a multitude of answers because we're all different and "one mans meat " etc. I think it's important, as a former trainer, to explain to the aspiring engineers just how much diversity there can be and in essence, to look at any element that really appeals.....then ask them... why ?

Given "over there " is a bit different to "over here ", in some respects, it's not a bad idea to try and illustrate the pro's and con's of say, the airline world. Biz jet, G.A. Vintage Rotary to name but a few...or component shops, although why anybody would willingly work in a bay is a mystery to me given the RAF kindly insisted I did....I wasn't entirely in agreement you understand.

As the F.E has now been replaced by a couple of television screens, the next best option would be a flying spanner with a cargo outfit. Personally, I always liked Line engineering, ( free international food and coffee ) but do stress Alaska, for example, gets a bit cool in the winter, whereas Florida doesn't in this respect.

I appreciate the above may seem a bit light hearted, but, as I say, you've posed a question with a multitude of potential responses so I hope this helps in some small way.
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Old 21st Nov 2020, 23:40
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Originally Posted by Krystal n chips View Post
I don't suppose getting paid and going home is quite what you are looking for.

However, you've posed a very interesting question, one with a multitude of answers because we're all different and "one mans meat " etc. I think it's important, as a former trainer, to explain to the aspiring engineers just how much diversity there can be and in essence, to look at any element that really appeals.....then ask them... why ?

Given "over there " is a bit different to "over here ", in some respects, it's not a bad idea to try and illustrate the pro's and con's of say, the airline world. Biz jet, G.A. Vintage Rotary to name but a few...or component shops, although why anybody would willingly work in a bay is a mystery to me given the RAF kindly insisted I did....I wasn't entirely in agreement you understand.

As the F.E has now been replaced by a couple of television screens, the next best option would be a flying spanner with a cargo outfit. Personally, I always liked Line engineering, ( free international food and coffee ) but do stress Alaska, for example, gets a bit cool in the winter, whereas Florida doesn't in this respect.

I appreciate the above may seem a bit light hearted, but, as I say, you've posed a question with a multitude of potential responses so I hope this helps in some small way.
Working in a bay gave you a better understanding of systems theory.
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Old 23rd Nov 2020, 23:52
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After my meagre training, I started working on Whirlwind Helicopters (S55T for A&Ps) on a Hangar “Rectification Team” and when found to be of sufficient standard, I was pushed out to do Line maintenance - a job I thoroughly enjoyed. However, because I’d been in the hangar for that short period I was the only person on the Line with experience of re-hanging cabin doors that had been erroneously ejected! Kudos from my seniors and superiors!
In a career of more than 45 years, I have done line, hangar and bay work (and now lots of office work too) to gain quite some depth as to how fixed wing and rotary aircraft work and how to manage them. In my view, any work on aircraft or their components is challenging purely because of its implications - and to complete any period without incident or accident is deserving of QUIET self-congratulation. But you’re still waiting for the next problem....
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Old 24th Nov 2020, 00:23
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Originally Posted by Rigga View Post
After my meagre training, I started working on Whirlwind Helicopters (S55T for A&Ps) on a Hangar “Rectification Team” and when found to be of sufficient standard, I was pushed out to do Line maintenance - a job I thoroughly enjoyed. However, because I’d been in the hangar for that short period I was the only person on the Line with experience of re-hanging cabin doors that had been erroneously ejected! Kudos from my seniors and superiors!
In a career of more than 45 years, I have done line, hangar and bay work (and now lots of office work too) to gain quite some depth as to how fixed wing and rotary aircraft work and how to manage them. In my view, any work on aircraft or their components is challenging purely because of its implications - and to complete any period without incident or accident is deserving of QUIET self-congratulation. But you’re still waiting for the next problem....
Do not disagree with that. Look at the problem. Is it a fault isolation lead or not. Sometimes it is not so if it doesn't fit the write up or not mentioned, do not guess. I have had problems where injects from others have added additional issues as they have gone for solutions that never fitted the original issue. If not sure, read up on the system operation again. All of us never remember everything. We are technicians, not the designers. However use common sense. Don't miss anything, record everything in the technical detail that makes it obvious. I have had things go off the overhaul, were a paper pusher has raised the RO on a pilot snag, not for the reason I removed the item as it was actually a fail on fit and was missed. You find D and B damage. Report it. If in SRM limits , recorded it! Some other person gets dumped with it or it will bite you later.
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Old 30th Nov 2020, 22:59
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The opportunities available to an LAE are numerous. Flying - obtaining a pilot's licence is facilitated, the theory is similar and the operational environment is already there. Having a pilot's licence made it easy in remote areas to get a maintenance job, load up tools and the apprentice and head out to carry out yearly inspections in the bush. In the airlines, I was offered a RH seat by several employers. Airlines both domestic and international, great way to travel and see the world.
Tech services - a bit of extra study and working in a design/development environment is extremely rewarding. Contracts - returning aircraft to lessors and the completion of contractual terms and conditions is very interesting. Acting as a tech rep for an airline provides an opportunity to travel and interact with manufacturers.
Expat employment - take the family and enjoy foreign cultures and be trained in leading edge aircraft and equipment.
Insurance assessor - extremely lucrative.
Government employment with the national regulator, airworthiness inspector or trainer.
Easy transition to quality and safety roles.
Instructor duties with airlines or move on to training organisations (EASA 147).
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Old 4th Dec 2020, 03:38
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I remember one Christmas I was at home at my mums on leave a couple of hundred miles from work and I used to look after the Chairman’s aircraft from an airline, my mum took a call that the aircraft was U/S and urgently needed a sig to enable it to fly, could she ask me if I would pop back and sign it for them, they would send an aircraft to collect me and then return me home afterwards... her jaw hit the floor lol.
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Old 5th Dec 2020, 12:38
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I took a different career path to most.

I was an MoD aircraft engineering apprentice, then did well enough to be sent to do a degree (and somehow ended up with a PhD a few years later). The formative moment for me was a placement with an aircraft manufacturer in the flight test department, which showed me that what I was really interested in was the overlap between engineering and flying, so I learned to fly as well.

A few highlights.

Seeing fitted the first modification I ever designed (nothing special, the anti-collision light under the nose of the Lynx 8, but hell, I was 19.)

Using a periscope at the back of a VC10 in flight to try and identify the reason the beaver tail between the adjacent podded Conways was fluttering, as Tornado pilots were refusing to fly behind it.

Making the first flight (as test pilot) on a homebuilt aeroplane that I had also overseen the full build on as an aircraft inspector.

Flying as a pilot, the first aeroplane design that I oversaw and approved as an engineer (tiny little low performance 2-seater, but it still counts).

Working with military test pilots and Rolls Royce airworthiness engineers to design and run the flight testing of a modified Dart turboprop on the HS780 Andover, and running the flight tests from the jumpseat.

Getting to the bottom of why a carbon fibre propeller had decided to spontaneously combust in flight, including scrounging a non-flight airframe, instrumenting it up, and running tests to determine the reason, then getting that circulated around the airworthiness community.

Finding a way to adapt military performance scheduling to civilian research aeroplanes, allowing them to fly more and better instrumentation, for longer, than ever before.

Visiting eastern European light aircraft factories not long after the end of the cold war to determine what types were, and which weren't, suitable for certification in the UK.

Identifying a fundamental design problem across a fleet that had caused fatal accidents, and getting it eliminated - coming back 5 years later and seeing the end point in the history of related fatalities.


Right now I'm leading a team who are designing, building, and will be testing two prototype all-electric aircraft, I expect to be creating the inspection schedule and training syllabus for one of the first electric powertrains, and likely training the first techs and inspectors on it as well. Yes, that is as hard work, and as exciting, as it sounds.

Yep, I'd be very happy to recommend aeronautical engineering, at least my oddball flavour of it, to anybody looking for an exciting career that can take you around the world doing stuff that for most people is pure fantasy.

G
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Old 5th Dec 2020, 13:46
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As I approach 50 years in aviation, being 3rd generation aviation and with 3 sons in aviation, it would be fair to say that aviation is in my family genes. Coming to the end of my career, I can look back with a smile on my face and feel extremely fortunate to have a vocation that I enjoy and has given me so many opportunities.

To have travelled extensively, to be pushed to the limits of your capability often in adverse conditions is what I have enjoyed the most. To be paid well for a job that you enjoy is a rare commodity and I am grateful to aviation to have provide me that opportunity. Aviation has more than its fair share of ‘good’ people. There are the ‘not so good’ as well, but they are in the minority. To be part of the camaraderie, teamwork and the ‘let’s get it done’ approach is great, and when you work with others of a similar mind, it is infectious and ‘yes’ you can move mountains.

The first aircraft I worked on was a Bristol Britannia and I am now involved with aircraft such as B787, NEO, MAX. An incredible advance in technology during my time in aviation. To those coming into the industry now you have such exciting times ahead. I envy you, but at the same time realise that it is time to step aside and pass the baton on to you.

Aviation is a vocation, it is not for people who think it is ‘just a job’.

To those starting their career in aviation:
1. Enjoy every minute
2. Avoid negative people
3. Every day is a school day, you will never stop learning
4. Never be frightened to ask questions
5. Take full advantage of every opportunity offered to you
6. Enjoy every minute (I know that I have said that twice)

Temps

Last edited by Tempsford; 5th Dec 2020 at 13:56.
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Old 5th Dec 2020, 13:55
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3. Every day is a school day, you will never stop learning

5. Take full advantage of every opportunity offered to you


Just emphasising these, as the theme of the thread is inspiration for young people - there is a price of all this fun we all have had, and it's the willingness to study, and to learn. Constantly, from the day you enter the professions, to the day you last walk away from an aircraft. I've paid that price willingly, but it's not a cheap price - in 32 years since I started as an engineer, there's probably the equivalent of about 9 years full time study in there.

G

Last edited by Genghis the Engineer; 5th Dec 2020 at 14:24.
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Old 6th Dec 2020, 21:26
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Snoop

Great replies and information. Of course, all quite different.

Don’t want to be ‘greedy’, but hope to see more. I am sure all readers/viewers here enjoy too.

So many years back, brand new F/E on the 707 (freighter as it were) had to operate the ‘hammer’ on a hammer start (JT3D’s) in the middle of the night with 2 newbie pilots - a/c ‘new’ to company. Learned about the start in classroom - ‘you can use a tool to open the start valve....’ Man, an eye opener for me......

Thanks to all and Happy Holidays.
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Old 7th Dec 2020, 09:37
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Originally Posted by slowto280 View Post
Great replies and information. Of course, all quite different.

Don’t want to be ‘greedy’, but hope to see more. I am sure all readers/viewers here enjoy too.

So many years back, brand new F/E on the 707 (freighter as it were) had to operate the ‘hammer’ on a hammer start (JT3D’s) in the middle of the night with 2 newbie pilots - a/c ‘new’ to company. Learned about the start in classroom - ‘you can use a tool to open the start valve....’ Man, an eye opener for me......

Thanks to all and Happy Holidays.
So were you also familiar with the, ahem, tools, used to reset the infamous JT3's T/R's......that could be fun !
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Old 7th Dec 2020, 10:54
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Thumbs up Best job in the world

Started in USAF came to the UK. 50 years loved it, hanger work was OK but line maintenance was great,no two days the same never boring but weather was hot in Saudi wet in Scotland so some days were better than others. Retired now but still look up when one goes over.
Keep them up boys
Peter
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Old 8th Dec 2020, 13:08
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Originally Posted by slowto280 View Post
Great replies and information. Of course, all quite different.

Don’t want to be ‘greedy’, but hope to see more. I am sure all readers/viewers here enjoy too.

So many years back, brand new F/E on the 707 (freighter as it were) had to operate the ‘hammer’ on a hammer start (JT3D’s) in the middle of the night with 2 newbie pilots - a/c ‘new’ to company. Learned about the start in classroom - ‘you can use a tool to open the start valve....’ Man, an eye opener for me......

Thanks to all and Happy Holidays.
Hahahaha..... Same on the VC10, air start valve stuck on number one, drag the safety raiser under the engine and jack it up, drop the cowl and taking the jacking handle from the safety raiser give the air start valve a couple of good whacks until you hear the satisfying ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz as the engine winds over, glancing to the left to see all these rearward facing ( RAF) passengers watching me at work out of the windows.. smile at them, shut the cowling back up and drag away the raiser... Often wondered what they thought.
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Old 8th Dec 2020, 13:23
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engineer tasks

During the war stationed in Guam we started engines on the B52s 33 of them at once
with shot gun cans two each plane the noise was ready something and one time the engine just blew up.
Keep them up boys
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Old 8th Dec 2020, 14:02
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Smile

Originally Posted by Krystal n chips View Post
So were you also familiar with the, ahem, tools, used to reset the infamous JT3's T/R's......that could be fun !
Land Rover and piece of 4 x 2?
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Old 9th Dec 2020, 05:01
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Originally Posted by dixi188 View Post
Land Rover and piece of 4 x 2?
Almost. no Land rover, but a sledge hammer, plus the F/E, me, and in one case a "very reluctant " F/O .....which amused me and the F/E.
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Old 16th Dec 2020, 09:33
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Seems I remember the TR’s on the 50 and 61 series 8’s being a problem. To include the ejectors on the 20 series 8’s. Capitol, Southern Air Transport, Evergreen; fond, fond memories stopping in Shannon for gas. Airplanes........my love.
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Old 16th Jan 2021, 17:07
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Folks, now that the year end holidays have passed, any more great 'Why I Love Being an Aircraft Engineer' inputs?

Any greatly appreciated. Wanted to put this post back in view.
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