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flyinback
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Airline Engineers

Fri Oct 20, 2006 11:53 am

This may sound like a silly question, but could someone explain to me what airline engineers do? As in, if you're say a mechanical engineer employed by an airline, what do you do? Are you stuck at a desk all day, do you spend time in the hangers with the mechanics? I'm a junior ME and obviously have a huge interest in the field, but I am unsure of what engineers employed by airlines do. Is anyone here a mechanic or engineer at IAD or ATL? Thanks for all of your input!

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fr8mech
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RE: Airline Engineers

Fri Oct 20, 2006 12:11 pm

Aircraft engineer duties vary by the department. An engineer assigned to assist maintenance will very likely be in close contact with the mechanics and the aircraft.

An engineer assigned to a reliability group will basically be desk bound and looking at trends in order to identify reliability issues and build plans to deal with adverse trends.
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EMBQA
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RE: Airline Engineers

Fri Oct 20, 2006 12:11 pm

Quoting FlyInBack (Thread starter):
This may sound like a silly question, but could someone explain to me what airline engineers do?

It actually has a lot to do with where in the world your talking... In Europe many airlines call mechanics Aircraft Engineers. In other parts of the world an Aircraft Engineer will be college educated and do design work with modifications, repairs and the like. They may work at Boeing, Airbus or Embraer and actually design the aircraft.
"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog"
 
flyinback
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RE: Airline Engineers

Fri Oct 20, 2006 12:14 pm

You're right. I do remember reading in another thread the discussion in the varying meanings of the term. I meant an Engineer as in the U.S. sense as someone with a college degree in mechanical or aerospace engineering.
 
320tech
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RE: Airline Engineers

Fri Oct 20, 2006 12:31 pm

Aeronautical engineers where I work mostly work with the AMEs (aircraft maintenance engineers) to approve repairs that aren't covered in the maintenance manual or structural repair manual. Typically, this includes damage from bird strikes, lightning strikes, loaders, galley trucks, and such. They may also approve variations from the maintenance manual due to lack of parts. For example, if a component is worn / leaking / damaged beyond the specified limit, the AE will write a permit to allow the airplane to continue in service for a period of time, so that the repair can be accomplished efficiently.
The primary function of the design engineer is to make things difficult for the manufacturer and impossible for the AME.
 
3201
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RE: Airline Engineers

Fri Oct 20, 2006 2:09 pm

Some aero engineers at airlines are involved with very detailed calculation of takeoff and landing capabilities and procedures, including terrain, obstacles, aircraft that have some critical equipment inop, etc.

They may also be involved with evaluation of new aircraft types for acquisition, evaluation of flight procedures (e.g. ETOPS, terrain avoidance with engine and/or pressurization, etc), etc.

They do, however, tend to do all this work from a desk, most likely in a large cube land.
7 hours aint long-haul
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: Airline Engineers

Fri Oct 20, 2006 7:57 pm

If you are reffering to Aircraft Maintenance Engineers [AMEs].
If Pilots are Drivers then AMEs are mechanics.

AMEs carry out Scheduled & Unscheduled checks on the Aircraft,replace components when due & certify the Aircraft fit for flight.

regds
MEL
I may not win often, but I damn well never lose!!! ;)
 
Dalmd88
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RE: Airline Engineers

Fri Oct 20, 2006 9:36 pm

I worked at the DL hangar for years and we rarely actually saw an engineer on the floor on midnights. The rare sightings usually invloved them coming down with bunch of pictures from a damaged outstation plane and comparing them to our ripped apart overhaul plane. They always looked very young and had very new ID cards.

The engineering requests for overhaul were all worked by the dayshift engineering crew. These requests would deal with repairs that didn't fit the SRM. Each fleet type would have a couple of engineers assigned. The names that appeared on our paperwork changed very frequently. Most of us suspected DL had a retention problem with AE's.
 
vc10
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RE: Airline Engineers

Fri Oct 20, 2006 10:11 pm

Quoting EMBQA (Reply 2):
In other parts of the world an Aircraft Engineer will be college educated

I was an Aircraft engineering apprentice for 5 years and for all of those years I did one week in three at college plus one night every week at night school, finishing my apprenticeship when I was nearly 22 years old and ending up with a HNC which I think you will find is/was considered a very respectable academic qualification, as well as a licence and other qualifications.

What did I do with the other two weeks, well one week was spent at the company's technical training school, being taught about aircraft/engine systems with weekly exams, and the other week was spent on practical training in the workshops or hanger.

What was all this for, well to become a " Mechanic" and I wonder how that compares especially with the hands on training that "Engineers" get at College.

I would say that in all forms of engineering people specialize and some like to specialize in design etc, whereas others specialize in the more practical side of things, but never assume they are less educated.

OK that is my rant over with so get back to the topic

littlevc10  box 
 
Tod
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RE: Airline Engineers

Sat Oct 21, 2006 12:26 am

Quoting EMBQA (Reply 2):
They may work at Boeing, Airbus or Embraer and actually design the aircraft.

....and some of us work in the aftermarket world, designing reconfigurations and interior components at places like Heath Tecna, Flight Structures, Jamco, Northwest Aerospace Technologies, etc.

That work can vary between 100% cube dwelling thousands of miles from the plane at one end of the spectrum to other guys that spend 75% of their time on the road at the mod site supporting the installations. Personally, I prefer it somewhere in between. I would hate not being able to play on airplanes, but I've got a family and a life, so being home is important too.

Quoting VC10 (Reply 8):
I would say that in all forms of engineering people specialize and some like to specialize in design etc, whereas others specialize in the more practical side of things, but never assume they are less educated.

 checkmark 

Tod
 
747Teach
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RE: Airline Engineers

Sat Oct 21, 2006 12:38 am

FlyInBack: Let me give you a little hint. Look at what's going on in aviation (decreasing wages, vanishing medical benefits, frozen retirements), then look at what's going on in the petroleum industry (starting wages that are higher than you'll ever make in aviation no matter how long you work, an industry that has more money than Croesus), and consider carefully how you plan your career. And after 40 years in aviation, I feel I know what I'm taking about. Regards,
 
Tristarsteve
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RE: Airline Engineers

Sat Oct 21, 2006 3:56 pm

Quoting 747Teach (Reply 10):
FlyInBack: Let me give you a little hint. Look at what's going on in aviation (decreasing wages, vanishing medical benefits, frozen retirements)

Yes its the same here in Europe. The number of technicians on the floor is decreasing all the time as aircraft become more reliable, and major work is outsourced, and the number of engineers on desks just goes down. BA has 'retired' one third of the office based engineers this summer alone.

I started out with a degree in engineering, and worked in various office jobs but then I got a CAA engineers Licence (A and P and IA to you), and I went out on the ramp and have been there ever since. As the staff cuts bite I see the guys left in the office picking up more and more work. They can try, but I can only hold one spanner (wrench) at a time!
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: Airline Engineers

Sat Oct 21, 2006 7:48 pm

Quoting TristarSteve (Reply 11):
but I can only hold one spanner (wrench) at a time

Thats the sad part.Cost cutting & better scales at other Fields,has made Aviation Mx a less sought after job unless you are that rare Aviation crazy fan. Smile
regds
MEL
I may not win often, but I damn well never lose!!! ;)
 
Corsair2
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RE: Airline Engineers

Sun Oct 22, 2006 4:40 am

I do engineering for an airline and am responsible for doing failure analysis investigations, trend analysis, traveling to component suppliers to initiate fixes. I don't want to say which airline I work for at this time, but I do work with Boeing jets. It is a very interesting field to be in and to be able to spend much time directly working with aircraft. One day I might be downloading faults from an APU controller and analyzing the data, the next day traveling to a supplier to do a failure investigation. I also travel to MRO's to oversee outsourced maintenance. The pay is not comparable to engineers in other non-aerospace fields, but is very satisfying work. I have a PPL as well and had thought about working toward my CPL, but like the ability to be home most every night and spend time with family.
"We have clearance Clarence. Roger, Roger. What's our vector Victor?"
 
f86sabre
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RE: Airline Engineers

Sun Oct 22, 2006 6:23 pm

In my little world, I design repairs for airframe damage that is out of the scope of the Structural Repair Manual (SRM), Aircraft Maintenance Manual (AMM) or Component Maintenance Manual (CMM). In about 65% of the cases these are little things like a puncture in a fairing that is 1.25” in diameter where the SRM allows 1”. No big deal. The rest are things that take more time and thought. The way it typically goes down is you get a request from maintenance, you review the manuals yourself to be sure there are no repairs, you might do a quick search to see if your company has dealt with the same problem before, you pull the blueprints to see what things are made from and how they go together and you design a repair and do the associated analysis (tensile load, material check, fastener determination, compression loading, beam bending, ect.). You then do any required drawings, write up the official paperwork and issue it. In some cases where you can’t substantiate something yourself, you can send it to the OEM and they can look at. You may also have to send paperwork to the OEM or FAA for approval of items that are the subject of an airworthiness directive. You can either get your info from maintnance over the phone or with digital pictures or, if you can, you can go to the plane. If the damage is significant enough you may get sent out to a station to help fix the plane there. This type of work is generally termed “Liaison Engineering” and may be done by an AE or an ME. Many airlines have people who do this type of work either on duty, or on call, 24 hours a day.

Other engineering groups deal with fleet wide issues, interiors, propulsion, materials, shop support (composites, interiors, ect), avionics or flight operations type things (weight and balance, fuel burn). These types of groups are generally day shift Monday – Friday.

Finding a niche that you like depends on your personality and what you specialized in when getting your degree. If you like creative thinking, a bit of pressure and working odd hours then a liaison job would be for you. If you like a more structured environment then something on the fleet or OEM side might be better. Don’t let the nay sayers keep you down. If this is what you want to do then go for it. There are better ways to make a buck, especially if you want to make a lot of them, but if you want to be around the planes then this is a good way to go. Pay and stability may be lacking right now in the airline biz, but if you are good at what you do then you will be alright. If you are serious about this type of work, I know an Atlanta based airline that is hiring engineers. Just check out their website.

Best wishes,
F86sabre
 
Molykote
Posts: 1240
Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2005 8:21 pm

RE: Airline Engineers

Sun Oct 22, 2006 7:22 pm

Quoting DALMD88 (Reply 7):
I worked at the DL hangar for years and we rarely actually saw an engineer on the floor on midnights. The rare sightings usually invloved them coming down with bunch of pictures from a damaged outstation plane and comparing them to our ripped apart overhaul plane. They always looked very young and had very new ID cards.

As a young engineer performing exactly this work I got a nice laugh out of this. I work in a 24/7 support department and for obvious reasons we tend to have a much higher workload at night. The greater workload typically impairs our ability to get hands on with all of our issues (although we certainly try to be involved in as many as possible).

Quoting DALMD88 (Reply 7):
The engineering requests for overhaul were all worked by the dayshift engineering crew. These requests would deal with repairs that didn't fit the SRM. Each fleet type would have a couple of engineers assigned. The names that appeared on our paperwork changed very frequently. Most of us suspected DL had a retention problem with AE's

Most airlines have the "retention" problem with engineers - money is much better elsewhere (based upon job offers I have received personally). I personally couldn't imagine leaving my job but it may be a different situation if I were married with family, etc...
Speedtape - The aspirin of aviation!
 
Corsair2
Posts: 243
Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2001 11:02 pm

RE: Airline Engineers

Sat Oct 28, 2006 11:07 pm

Quoting Molykote (Reply 15):
Most airlines have the "retention" problem with engineers - money is much better elsewhere

I will agree with this. I have been offered two other engineering jobs that pay between 25-30% more than my current airline. The other downsides of working for an airline include the high load factors making non-rev travel next to impossible with the limited time off.
"We have clearance Clarence. Roger, Roger. What's our vector Victor?"
 
flametech21
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RE: Airline Engineers

Mon Oct 30, 2006 1:30 am

Well, like the posts above say it depends on the airline and location. I work in Operations Engineering and I rarely step foot in a hangar. But it is far from your average desk job, as every day presents a new problem. Many times I end up catching a jumpseat on a cross country flight with an hours notice just so I can save some logistical nightmare on the west coast. We make a very decent salary and turnover rates are surprisingly low. It is certainly different from maintenance-related engineering, but I enjoy it and wouldn't trade it for the world!

Sean
They build them to a higher standard at Long Beach!
 
JAXFLL
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RE: Airline Engineers

Mon Oct 30, 2006 5:08 am

I did some internships with AA and did work similar to F86sabre's description of liaison engineering for structures work. I was assigned to specific ATA chapters for my areas of responsibility. I would answer 8130s and create standard repairs. I worked on the hanger floor and had in house shops that I was responsible for. I specifically worked the pressurized door shop. I miss the days of driving a golf cart across the maintenance facility, but I digress.

When I worked on systems, I worked on ADs and making sure that the airline could complete the AD within the compliance date. We would look at the routing of aircraft and find out which ones we could do at the maintenance base in TUL vice what we would have to do at an overnight station like ORD. The other main responsibility was reliability and evaluation of new products. For instance, finding new air filters that would last longer or where cheaper.

The Fleet Operations Engineering group worked with AOG aircraft and flight data recorders.

The interiors group look at new seats, coffee makers, etc.

I enjoyed it, but I did my internships before 9/11. I stayed in aviation, just on the military aircraft side now instead of the commercial aircraft side.
 
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777wt
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RE: Airline Engineers

Tue Oct 31, 2006 1:43 am

There's engineers for avionics and powerplant also.

And they prepare jobcards too and update them such as service checks, changes due to S.B. like a gasket in place of a o-ring in the speed sensor cap to make the wheel changes easier. And it complys with the AMM but tailored to the aircraft type used in the company with the AD's, SB's, pre-mod or post-mod applied to it.

They do study options for better efficiency like they weren't happy that the brakes were being changed out more often as required due to wear...the result?

new brake manufactor was selected and the old wheels are interchangeable like the old wheel can be installed on the new brake while it's being phased in.
And that the new wheel won't fit on the old brake when it comes out so this way they can ensure all of the aircraft old brakes type are taken out of service.

The end result, longer brake life, better heat control by the new wheel type.

As for the powerplant engineers, they study the downloaded files from the on board maint. comp and study oil burn rate, flight hours, cycles, and when the engine is due for an R&R which may be unscheduled or scheduled.

Most of the time when there's a serious engine problem like oil burn rate is too high or it's blowing smoke into the bleed air system, maint. calls mtx control which engineers are there too and review the engine performance, trend, oil burn rate...etc and decide if the enigne should be R&R or if the repair can be done with the engine on the aircraft, they either call us or tell mtx control and they tell us what needs to be done.

Once in a while an engineer would write up a jobcard and a blueprint which doesn't even sound like it would work since they don't always have an access to the aircraft all the time and we'd have to call them and say we can't do this because it's impossible to get access to this area or there's something else in the way.
The engineers would have to research again and rewrite it.

One time one aircraft had smoke going into the lav and the cabin on takeoff, it returned and the engineers told us to change engine #2 because they think that's the problem and it was due to be changed shortly anyways.
Maint. did that and did a check flight, same problem still.... the engineers were called again and mtx found a leaking compressor oil seal via boroscope on the engine #1. The powerplant engineers approved to R&R the engine #1.
Check flight again, problem fixed...and 2 new engines on that plane!
 
roseflyer
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RE: Airline Engineers

Tue Nov 07, 2006 8:39 am

Quoting Corsair2 (Reply 13):
The pay is not comparable to engineers in other non-aerospace fields, but is very satisfying work.

You are making a big distinction. I'm an engineer in Aerospace at a company that makes at least something on every plane out there. The pay is just as good as any other engineering industry. I work in operations, and have a desk job, but the pay is pretty good. It's better than the automotive industry. You can get really good pay in undesirable jobs, but there is so much more to aviation than airlines.
If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
 
modesto2
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RE: Airline Engineers

Wed Nov 08, 2006 2:10 am

I interned with JetBlue in Tech Standards, their engineering department. They have avionics, propulsion, reliability, systems and structures engineers...and more. These engineers have engineering degrees and/or prior AMT experience. Most of the work involves tracking faults and trends and then writing reports and recommendations about how to address such issues. With avionics engineering, I wrote reports based upon flight data recorder data. With systems engineering, I investigated pneumatic faults and provided my findings to other engineers who subsequently made recommendations to the manufacturer. As others have said, if you have an interest in aviation with an engineering background, it's great work with mediocre pay. I spent a decent amount of time at JFK with the planes while working with avionics engineering. Those field trips were the best part of the job! Good luck with your career.
 
PurdueAv2003
Posts: 243
Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2005 11:43 am

RE: Airline Engineers

Fri Nov 10, 2006 7:11 pm

Quoting RoseFlyer (Reply 20):
You can get really good pay in undesirable jobs, but there is so much more to aviation than airlines.

There may be so much more, but you don't get to have as much fun. I am an airframe engineer that works midnights for an unnamed airline. Yeah, pay may be better elsewhere, but where else can you get call every night with issues that have to be solved in a matter of hours (or in some cases, a matter of minutes!). I love working under the gun, cranking out an analysis and paperwork at a moments notice. I work with aircraft on a daily basis and can see the results of my work when an aircraft meets its ETR. Instant gratification!

Quoting VC10 (Reply 8):
What was all this for, well to become a " Mechanic" and I wonder how that compares especially with the hands on training that "Engineers" get at College.

"Engineers" and "mechanics" tend to rag on each other, but the truth is they need each other. Most mechanics aren't trained to analyze (mathematically) a situation as an engineer does. However, engineers, for the most part, don't have the hands-on, real-life experience that mechanics do. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I think all engineers in the aviation industry should take the time to get their A&P in order to better understand the maintenance side of problem. I have seen some repairs by other engineers that were great as far as the load distribution; however, the repairs couldn't be installed because mechanics' arms don't bend three ways. On the same note, there are some mechanics that think if you have 100 sq. in of delam on a flap, we can run our numbers and find some magical way to authorize a temporary continuation of revenue flight. Rather than squabling over who knows what better, our industry would be much better off if everyone just realized that we need to work together to make these birds fly.
Ptu = Ftu X Anet (not to be confused with a.net)
 
Tod
Posts: 1716
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RE: Airline Engineers

Fri Nov 10, 2006 11:54 pm

Quoting PurdueAv2003 (Reply 22):
but where else can you get call every night with issues that have to be solved in a matter of hours

If you are part of the field support team (either on-site or back at home) for one of the major reconfig companies you can get the 24/7 urgent issue action while a mod is underway. They rarely stay on schedule without some major panic along the way. The nice part (for me at least) is that is does not go on for ever. Lots of action for a month or three, then catch your breath and cruise until the next plane is down. I've been doing it for 28 years and for me its been the best of both worlds that way.

Quoting PurdueAv2003 (Reply 22):
I think all engineers in the aviation industry should take the time to get their A&P in order to better understand the maintenance side of problem

If not going all way to getting you A&P, at the very least have enough mechanical experience to not be clueless to how the world really turns.

It is sad to say, but the big companies seem to have some of the worst ones (not all of course). I've seen engineers when I worked at Boeing that probably could not tell you which way to turn a nut. Some are also so disinterested in airplanes that they never even bother to take the short walk from the office to the hanger to see what an airplane looks like up close and personal. banghead 


Tod
 
roseflyer
Posts: 9602
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RE: Airline Engineers

Sat Nov 11, 2006 6:53 am

Quoting Tod (Reply 23):
It is sad to say, but the big companies seem to have some of the worst ones (not all of course). I've seen engineers when I worked at Boeing that probably could not tell you which way to turn a nut. Some are also so disinterested in airplanes that they never even bother to take the short walk from the office to the hanger to see what an airplane looks like up close and personal.

I hate to say it, but I'm one of those engineers that can't touch anything. It isn't because I don't want to, I'm not allowed to. There is a clear division among workers in the union and the engineers. I can't go as far as carrying a screw on the shop floor. I can only watch and tell. It isn't always the engineer's fault that they don't have the hands on experience. There are other reasons for a clear division of expertise.

Quoting PurdueAv2003 (Reply 22):
There may be so much more, but you don't get to have as much fun. I am an airframe engineer that works midnights for an unnamed airline. Yeah, pay may be better elsewhere, but where else can you get call every night with issues that have to be solved in a matter of hours (or in some cases, a matter of minutes!). I love working under the gun, cranking out an analysis and paperwork at a moments notice. I work with aircraft on a daily basis and can see the results of my work when an aircraft meets its ETR. Instant gratification!

I work in operations, so with little notice, someone from my department could get dispatched to go solve a problem at a plantsite or go observe problems in the field, such as the recent grounding of the V-22 Osprey. But I do think that there would be a lot of reward and accomplishment working for an airline and being around the planes. I might work on parts for planes every day, but unless you are very knowledgeable about what these pieces are, you'd have absolutely no idea they had anything to do with aviation since they are parts buried deep inside a jet engine.
If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
 
Tod
Posts: 1716
Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 6:51 am

RE: Airline Engineers

Sat Nov 11, 2006 8:29 am

Quoting RoseFlyer (Reply 24):
It isn't always the engineer's fault that they don't have the hands on experience.

Mechanical understanding doesn't necessarily have come directly from the workplace to be useful. I really wasn't talking about the guys in situations like RoseFyer's as much as the guys that are mechanically clueless at work and away. Like the engineers that cannot accomplish the simplest mechanical task around the house or car. I was fortuanate to be raised working on hydroplanes with my Dad and his "real" job was as a mechanic at NW. Mechanical competence was considered a normal expectation and I think that has made me a much better engineer even though I rarely get to turn a wrench on a airplane.

Tod

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