The Flight Engineer is the number 3 officer onboard an aircraft with 4 or more engines or a rotary wing helicopter. He works closely in co-ordination with the First Officer and Captain during every flight, monitoring the critical flight systems and diagnosing any issues. A Flight Engineer is the systems expert of an aircraft, with extensive mechanical and technical knowledge of aircraft systems rather than aircraft performance. He may also be qualified as a pilot but rarely flies as he has many duties both on the ground and on the aircraft.
What is the Role of a Flight Engineer?
The main duties of a Flight Engineer are:
- Pre-flight checks of the aircraft e.g. no leaks, no worn tires, no engine damage
- To call in the engineering team to repair any issues on the ground
- To check the instrument operation inside the aircraft
- Calculating take off and landing data
- To review the flight plan, weather and fuel with the Dispatcher and Captain
- To monitor the flight instruments and make minor repairs
- To cross check the pilots selections
- To troubleshoot and help resolve to abnormal situations or emergencies
- To record fuel consumption and engine performance
- Post flight checks of the aircraft and equipment
- Complete reports and the logbook
A Flight Engineer will be required to:
- Work under pressure
- Have a high attention to detail
- Communicate efficiently
- Be accurate with information
- Be a team worker
Basic Requirements and Qualifications
To become a Flight Engineer you will need:
- A good high school education plus 2 years at college
- Bachelor’s degree preferably in aviation or aeronautics
- Excellent vision and hearing and be able to pass a 2 class medical
- ICAO level 4 English is the minimum language requirement
- A Commercial Pilot’s Licence (CPL)
- Flight Engineer Certification
- 1,500 hours flying experience
Alternative routes to becoming a Flight Engineer are:
- CPL plus Flight Engineer training
- 2 years specialist course in aircraft and engine maintenance plus Flight Engineer training
- You can work for 3 years as a Flight Engineer trainee before gaining FAA Flight Engineer Certification
- Or 100 hours Flight Engineer experience plus 200 hours Pilot in Command (PIC) experience is another route to becoming a Flight Engineer
How to Apply
Flight schools are a good place to start looking for a Flight Engineer position and the Military or Air Force is another option. Vacancies can also be found on the airlines own website as well as careers websites.
Hours, Salary and Benefits
There are no set hours and you can be working any time of the day or night either on a flight or on the ground. Schedules are irregular and you will also be ‘on call’.
Salary is made up of basic and flight pay and allowances when flying.
Trainee Flight Engineer
Qualified Flight Engineer
Other benefits may include life and medical insurance, annual leave allowance, pension and bonus/increment. If working directly for an airline, you may be entitled to reduced travel rates.
As a Flight Engineer, you may also become a First Officer and then a Captain. You can also choose to work as a test pilot or in corporate aviation as an Engineer or Pilot. Other opportunities may be in the manufacturing and aerospace industries in product and aircraft parts.
Job turnover is relatively low and most promotions are within the airline or operator, although there is an increasing demand for Flight Engineers, especially within the low cost and regional airlines.