Today, more people are travelling, be it for work or for leisure and many of us dream of a globe-trotting lifestyle. Have you ever thought about the airworthiness of each flight you board? Has flight safety ever been at the forefront of your mind?
Besides the pilots, stewards, stewardess and ticketing personal whom we encounter, there are those who remain in the background. Yes: these are the men and women known as Aircraft Maintenance Technicians in the aviation industry. Many of them go through rigorous training in both physical and mental. Each step undertaken requires mindfulness, even under extreme weather.
Gaining the Right Perspective
“Many students think a career with the airline is a bed-of-roses. However, I classify this profession as AWO—All Weather Operations Engineers. If you are working in Europe, then likely you will work under frigid weather,” advised Selvarajah A/L Chelliah, Senior Instructor at Nilai University.
Selvarajah A/L Chelliah, Senior Instructor at Nilai University has been working as an instructor in the aviation and education industry for 47 years, starting his career with the national carrier. He firmly believes that the most crucial criterion to succeed as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer is passion.
So does, Baskaran Chitravelloo, another Senior Instructor at Nilai University. “It is always easier to learn when one has passion. Students who have passion are more receptive and are always hungry for knowledge,” stressed Baskaran.
Baskaran has 25 years in the aviation industry, kicking off his career with the Royal Malaysia Airforce, working on helicopters and subsequently advanced to another national air cargo company, where he was in-charged in maintaining the Boeing, and McDonnell Douglas aircraft.
Both, Selvarajah and Baskaran are the qualified B2 Avionics Instructors.
In total, graduates will take at least 6 to 8 years to become a Licensed Aircraft Engineer. Basically, students should complete a Diploma in Aircraft Maintenance Engineer in 2 ½ years which includes a 6-months on-the-job training with Nilai University’s industry partners.
After graduating, they are yet to qualify. Students will need to accumulate another five years of work experience before he/ she could apply for EASA Part 66 Basic License.
“The Department of Aircraft Maintenance at Nilai University incorporates industry related knowledge, code of ethics and practical skills into the programmes. The school will keep tab on technology trends because aircraft systems and components are constantly upgraded,” shared Dr Louie.
“The advancement of aircraft systems - the engine and components systems have progressed from mechanical, hydro-mechanical, electromechanical and now fly-by-wire with 60-70% of the system relying on automation technology,” said Mohd Zohdi bin Mat Zali, senior lecturer at Nilai University.
“Yes. Although over decades, the aircraft systems have evolved, the syllabus still includes the mechanical systems of aircraft. This knowledge will enable students to be discreet when the need arises,” added Selvarajah.
“Other employment options for graduates may include quality engineer, quality inspector, project engineer, planning engineer and gas turbine mechanics in the oil pump industry too”, said Dr Louie Longasa Timajo, Principal Lecturer of the Department of Aircraft Maintenance under the Faculty Engineering, Science and Technology at Nilai University. Dr Louie Longasa Timajo has 25 years of experience in the aviation and education of aircraft maintenance with Aviation Colleges in the Philippines and Air Philippines.
“The Malaysia Aviation Industry is rapidly changing. Malaysian Aerospace Industry Blueprint (2015) forecasted by 2030, the industry will generate an estimated annual revenue of USD14.3 billion. Hence, there will be good career prospects in Malaysia too.
Globally, airlines may require 24,000 aircraft. Therefore, there will be a demand for skilled professionals to maintain the airworthiness of these aircraft. China, itself, will require 210,000 aircraft maintenance professionals and by 2030, Malaysia’s aerospace industry will require 20,000 professionals including aircraft maintenance engineer,” mentioned Dr Louie.
The golden rule of S-U-C-C-E-S-S
While opportunities are boundless, so is the competition to stay ahead. Fundamentally, passion and right attitude: integrity, mindfulness and discipline are some core attributes to be successful in this profession.
“I have witnessed a half-a-million dollar component damaged because a recruit failed to lay down this piece of component gently. Digitalised components are susceptible. Trainees must be mindful when handling digitalised components. Also, people handling Electro Sensitive Devices (ESD) must wear wrist strap to neutralise the electric charges between them and the component. So personal safety comes first. As a Trainee Technician, he/ she must always be ready to ask when in doubt. Don’t assume and always have the discipline to bring along the Maintenance Manual. Refer to it when working on an aircraft. Don’t rely on memory,” said Baskaran.
“Also, we train students to be punctual for classes. By the time they enter the 6th semester, they will be accustomed to being punctual and have the right attitude. Every day we will remind them about punctuality and also from day-1 students we encourage students to be truthful. We teach them about the theory and practical aspects and we share our experiences with them,” added Selvarajah.
Nilai University has been offering the Diploma in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering and Advanced Diploma in Aircraft Engineering Technology for over ten years. It has earned a name for itself in the industry. “We have many students working in Singapore, in the Maintenance Repair Overhaul (MRO) Organisation,” said Selvarajah.
“Yes, I have another student working in Bangkok too,” added Baskaran.
Basic Entry Requirement
The Diploma in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering (DAME) at Nilai University is open to both Science Stream and non–Science Stream students who achieved the following scores in their SPM results:
- Three Credits in English, Mathematics, and Physics or Science
- Passed Bahasa Malaysia
- Passed Sejarah
Students should be medically fit and have excellent eyesight and hearing with no colour blindness and hearing impairment.
Since its inception in 2008, the Diploma of Aircraft Maintenance Engineering (DAME) offered at Nilai University incorporates the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) syllabus, preparing students for EASA Part 66 category B1.1 and B2 license examinations. Students will sit for an EASA license examination simultaneously while pursuing the diploma. It is the 1st step in gaining a full EASA license.
During the first semester, students will sit for four core courses: Mathematics, Physics, Aviation Legislation and Human Factors. “Under the course of human factors, students learn about handling stress level and how it affects them as well as their work environment,” highlighted Selvarajah.
The overall course structure comprises both theory and hands-on training for students. Propelling a conducive learning environment, facilities at Nilai University are among the best in the country. The purpose-built hangar has two aircraft and students have access to proper tooling and equipment to enhance their practical training.
Apart from the in-house practical training, students will also undergo six months on-the-job-training with Airbus, Air Asia-X or KLM. Once students complete their diploma, they have an option to pursue their Advanced Diploma in Aircraft Engineering Technology at Nilai University or to join the workforce. Students will take only a year to complete the Advanced Diploma, and upon completion, students will also receive a Bachelor Engineering (Hons) Aircraft Engineering from Kingston University London, UK.
The Diploma with EASA License in B1.1 or B2 and Advanced Diploma with a top-up UK degree from Kingston University offers students the flexibility to either pursue a career as a Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineer or to move on to supervisory and management roles.
Nilai University offers up to 100% scholarship to students. Visit Nilai University on 13 & 14 July 2019 to find out more about the 7 types of scholarships available. Nilai University’s education counsellors and experienced lecturers will guide, access and assist you in applying for a scholarship. Nilai University is open daily except on public holidays. Please call 06-850 2308 for an appointment or click on www.nilai.edu.my or visit our campus in Nilai.
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