Flight Engineer Career Description
Flight engineers, categorized as cockpit crew, assist the captain and co-pilot in large aircraft by monitoring and operating many of the systems, making minor in-flight repairs where possible and watching for other aircraft. They advise the pilots in command and help them to make decisions. In short, they are the technical advisors of the aircraft.
What am I going to do in this occupation?
Before departing of the aircraft, flight engineers along with the captain in command and the co-pilot, study the route and destination weather, as well as the flight plan for the specific aircraft and route to be flown. A fuel decision is taken based on the available data, such as the route winds, the all up weight of the aircraft and destination weather. The flight plan is computer generated, and given all the data, it selects flight levels and fuel required.
Before the engines are started, flight engineers check that the engines, controls, instruments and other systems are working properly and that any maintenance work required have been completed. They also ensure that the fuel content corresponds to the amount reflected on the flight plan. An exterior check is also carried out to ensure that the aircraft is in a safe condition for the flight.
During the take off, flight engineers ensure that the correct thrust setting is selected on the engines and monitor the engines very closely for any abnormality. During flight, they monitor all the aircraft systems, including electrics, fuel, air-conditioning, pressurisation and hydraulics, as well as the engines .. Air-conditioning is monitored for the comfort of the crew and passengers.
Should a defect develop during the flight,
flight engineers normally rectify it by means of a check list or fault reporting manual. There are various manuals aboard the aircraft and the seriousness of the defect would dictate which manual or check list is used.
Flight engineers monitor the amount of fuel used and compare this with the flight plan that was obtained on departure. Many engine and other related readings are logged, which are used to predict any serious malfunction by computer systems on the ground.
What kind of personality do I need? Prospective flight engineer officers should be medically fit and mentally healthy. They should be responsible and able to work well with the other flight deck crew. Concentration and perseverance are important, as well as a clear and calm mind in order to deal with emergencies effectively.
Where can I work?
Many flight engineers have progressed to become first officers, however this has to be done at their own expense in obtaining a commercial pilots license. Promotion as a flight engineer is restricted of progress to instructor/check, senior flight engineer, deputy or chief flight engineer.
Can I work for myself in this occupation?
Only contract work is available, mostly on the airlines mentioned above but there are possibilities to obtain contracts overseas. There are agencies which specialize in contract work placement.