Careers on the ground - Maintenance and Engineering

It's at night time that the Line Maintenance Operation really comes to life. At about 10pm, the massive hanger area is buzzing. Most of the aircraft engineers working here trained with us as apprentices. And they really are at the cutting edge when it comes to Aircraft Maintenance and Innovation.

There is a great team spirit in the maintenance and engineering department. Many of the people who join us have third level qualifications in Aircraft engineering. They are all flexible, committed and fascinated by the mechanics of aircraft. Our Aircraft Maintenance Engineers conduct a mixture of scheduled and unscheduled work on the fleet at a number of our bases ensuring that the aircraft are fit for service. These engineers could have Airframe, Engine or Avionics training. Some roles are office based: Aircraft Planning, Engineering, Materials, Quality Assurance and Management. These are the areas which support the Maintenance Engineers.

Our technical engineers drive our fleet reliability, dealing with our many suppliers and making sure all the parts in our aircraft are fit for purpose. Our planners make sure that everything that needs to be done actually gets done and on time. Our materials team manage the supply chain so that parts are on hand when they are needed, and our quality assurance team makes sure that we follow and maintain the highest possible standards.

You can come to Aer Lingus either as an aircraft engineer who has been working with another airline, or you as an apprentice and be trained as an Aircraft Engineer.

Our apprenticeship is run for us by FAS, and it takes 4 years to qualify as an Aer Lingus Aircraft Engineer. At the moment, the minimum entry qualification necessary is the Junior Cert and a strong mechanical and technical aptitude, but some of those who come to us have degrees in aviation or even other craft qualifications.

You will learn about both. We have two types of engineers, B1s and B2s. B1s are the mechanical people. They take care of the Airframe of the aircraft and the engines, while B2s look after the avionics, which is the electrical and instrumental side of things. It used to be the case that aircraft engineers were qualified in one area or the other, but now we are increasingly training people to do both.

JAR 66 is a qualification that all licensed engineers need to have. To obtain a JAR 66 license from EASA, you must complete academic and practical training and work experience. This usually happens during the course of an approved Aircraft Engineering Apprenticeship.

Aircraft technicians and engineers work round the clock. The hangar is at its busiest in the middle of the night, so this job requires people who don't mind working while all around them are asleep!

You do get a chance to work abroad and see the world as an aircraft technician or engineer. On an occasional basis, you might be called upon to go out to repair an aircraft and bring it back, or you might actually be based in New York, Boston or Chicago.

The planners schedule the work which is required to be done on our aircraft, to keep them safe and in compliance with the regulations. On any aircraft, there are many different parts which require service, repair or replacement. Our planners keep track of these requirements, and make sure that work is scheduled in such a way that all maintenance is done in good time.

Many of our planners come from within the airline. Some move over from 'the line', some come from other areas of the operation. It is a job which requires a real interest in and knowledge of the industry along with great attention to detail.

Our technical engineers drive the airworthiness and reliability of our fleet and ensure we manage our regulatory compliance. They are the people who deal with our suppliers, who check the maintenance requirements, who work with our planners to ensure we call up tasks when they are due. They are involved in retrofit projects on the aircraft and in the purchase and return conditions of the fleet. Our technical engineers could come to us with degrees in aviation or from the Line Maintenance Operation.

The materials team manages the supply chain of parts. They are the people who keep control of our inventory and make sure that the correct parts are in storage when they are needed. They also manage our stores facility. There, we store everything from the smallest parts such as nuts and bolts to complete engines.

Basically they are about an approach to work. 'Lean' is all about the elimination of waste in everything we do, and '5S' is all about the work environment. They have had a huge impact on us since we adopted them. The 5 Ss are Sorting, Straightening, Shining, Standardising and Sustaining. We apply these principles to everything we do, every single day, and we can see the impact everywhere. Our desks have no clutter, our maintenance trucks are clean, our heads are clear.

Basically, there are about an approach to work. 'Lean' is all about the elimination of waste in everything we do, and '5S' is all about the work environment.

With Lean, we look at everything we do through the eyes of our customers to identify what is of value and what is wasteful. It is all about the relentless pursuit and elimination of waste from our processes. Waste can manifest itself in many forms - delays, waiting for parts, excessive inventory, holding, unnecessary paperwork, rework, etc. Through our lean projects however, we deliver a multitude of benefits to the business and we also promote team working and staff engagement.

5S meanwhile is a Lean Tool. It is all about setting and maintaining standards in the work place and it is being rolled out across all areas of Maintenance & Engineering. The 5S's are Sort, Set-In-Order, Shine, Standardise and Sustain. 5S has a visible impact on our working environment. We see the impact everywhere, in our pride in our work place, reduced safety hazards and audit compliance.