How to Become a Flight Engineer

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The aviation field is very complex and requires a variety of specially trained professionals for the safe and successful operation of aircraft. Flight engineers are highly trained professionals that assist pilots on large aircraft.

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What does a flight engineer do?

Flight engineers typically provide assistance to pilots by offering advice and monitoring and operating many different systems and instruments. They often look out for other aircraft and perform minor in-flight repairs. They also help pilots with the flight course, determining weather patterns, cabin crew communications and air traffic control. They often determine how much fuel will be needed for the flight. Flight engineers inspect the outside of the aircraft before and after a flight to ensure everything is in good operating condition. If problems occur, they organize maintenance and repair procedures. Flight engineers are responsible for recording fuel consumption and engine performance during flights.

What kind of training does a flight engineer need?

Flight engineers must have at least a high school diploma, but most airlines prefer applicants with at least two years of postsecondary education. Most flight engineers have at least a bachelor degree in aviation, aeronautical engineering, or other related field. Many flight engineers have military training. Flight engineers must have a solid understanding of flight theory, fuel requirements, engine and aircraft performance, maintenance procedures, and the effect of weather and other conditions on engine operation. Flight engineers must also have sufficient flight experience. Flight engineers must have Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) commercial pilot license and flight engineer certificate. Licensing and certification requirements typically include minimum education and flight experience and passing a written and practical examination. Many employers also require flight engineers to complete a physical examination before offering employment.

What are the prospects for a career as a flight engineer?

Employment of flight engineers is expected to grow about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 12% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The growing population and increased air travel demand will drive job growth.

Job prospects should be great especially for flight engineers employed by regional airlines and low-cost carriers. Many job openings will arise from the need to replace flight engineers that retire, transfer, or leave the profession for other reasons.

How much do flight engineers make?

As of December 2009, flight engineers with 1 to 4 years experience earn average annual salaries between $38,036 and $65,066. Those with 5 to 9 years experience earn average annual salaries between $39,982 and $77,419 (2).

A career as a flight engineer is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in aviation and providing assistance to pilots on a variety of aircraft. Flight engineers must have a solid understanding of flight procedures and the maintenance of many different types of aircraft. Good vision, detail orientation, critical thinking, and good problem solving are necessary characteristics. Flight engineers must have excellent communication and be able to make effective decisions under pressure.

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