Soaring unto skies

Soaring unto skies

Soaring unto skies

With Indian Government’s green signal to Foreign Direct Investments in aviation, Etihad’s inorganic growth attempts through its equity alliance with Jet Airways, Air Asia’s clearances to start its Indian operations, spendable income of Indian middle class growing steadily, and Airport Authority of India (AAI)’s robust performance in upgradation of airport infrastructure, especially in tier II and tier III cities, Indian Aviation Industry seems to be swooping past the mist into open and clear skies. 

Although Singapore currently holds its monopolistic stands, Indian metro cities are strategically positioned to act as regional gateway and transit hubs between Eurasia and Asia Pacific. AAI, through its PPPs and JVs, is continuously engaged in modernization of 125 airports it manages to upgrade and emulate them to world standards. These airports include 11 international airports, 8 custom airports, 81 domestic airports and 25 civil enclaves at defence airfields. 

With the entire eco-system taking its shape, both for domestic and international markets, cargo and passenger traffic are looking very promising in growth terms.There has been significant augmentation of capacities in airlines and airport infrastructure.Low cost carriers are demonstrating strategic edge to change the aviation dynamics especially in non-metro cities. However the caution point is that the upsurge of opportunities may perhaps lead to an unmanageable shortfall of skilled manpower in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering spaces since there are only very few institutes providing such specialized training courses. 

To build a career in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering (AME), one needs to have passed minimum 10+2 / Intermediate with Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics or its equivalent from any recognized board / university. Unlike 4 years engineering courses, which require approval from AICTE, Aircraft Maintenance Engineering – Technical Training License Courses span for 3 years and institutes offering such courses need approvals from Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Govt. of India. DGCA is the Indian regulatory body responsible for aviation safety issues and it coordinates all regulatory functions with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).  
Streams within AME

The period of training in the DGCA approved training institute is counted as maintenance experience for the purpose of computing total aeronautical experiences. These training courses are primarily differentiated in mechanical and avionics streams and broadly come under the following;

*Mechanical stream (aeroplane and powerplants), comprising of Light Aircraft (LA), Heavy Aircraft (HA), Piston Engine (PE) and Jet Engine (JE).

*Mechanical stream (helicopter and powerplants), comprising of Rotary Wing Aircraft (RA), Piston Engine (PE) and Jet Engine (JE). 

* Avionics stream, comprising of Electrical System (ES), Instrument System (IS) and Radio Navigation System (RN).

The AME training courses are designed to give students a comprehensive knowledge of aircraft, its systems and good maintenance practices, enabling them to become skilled and competent aircraft maintenance professionals. The syllabus covers;

*Knowledge of aircraft manual (India), civil aviation requirements, airworthiness advisory circulars, etc.

* Theoretical and practical technical knowledge of design, construction, maintenance and operation of aircraft, engines, systems and aircraft materials used in the construction of airframes, engines and accessories

* Knowledge of engineering practices and skill in the use of various equipments, general and special tools used in aircraft maintenance, and 

* Knowledge of good maintenance practices, human factors and human performance, necessary judgment and competence required to assess the airworthiness of aircraft and its equipment.
Identifying quality institutions

These are very specialized training courses and one needs to selectively choose an institution before enrolling. While DGCA approval is a mandate, the institute’s campus infrastructure becomes vital for all practical purposes. Institutes offering such courses should have their own set of aircrafts within the campus.

 The in-house on-the-Job training is usually provided on the aircrafts like Bonanza A-35, Heavy pressurized Aircraft Hawker HS-125, Learjet-24, Helicopter SA-318C, and Eurocopter EC-120B. Teaching faculty should be highly qualified with extensive work experience in various Airlines or within Air Forces to impart quality.

State of the art electrical and electronics infrastructure as OHP, CBT, LCD projectors, and laptops with audio amplifiers should be in reach to each individual student. The institute certainly should have a good library and adequate avionics lab, airframe shop and engine shop with latest indigenously built test equipment for checking and testing sophisticated avionics machinery in the latest aircrafts. 

An aircraft maintenance engineer is solely responsible for the maintenance and overhaul of aircraft, aero engine, instruments, electrical and radio equipment and their accessories. Aircraft maintenance engineer issues the certificate of flight release which declares the aircraft airworthy and fit for flying. The sector is promising and placements are never a problem after successful completion of such courses.

(The writer is the director of a group of institutions)