Have you ever sat in an airport and wondered why planes never seem to take a break from flying? Well, that’s because there are people working behind the scenes to make sure the planes are in tip-top condition all year round!
But who are these people exactly? We’re talking about aircraft maintenance engineers and technicians who are trained to fix and maintain planes, which are crucial to the safety of the passengers on-board.
If you’ve always been intrigued with planes and the way they work, this guide will explore everything you need to know about studying an aircraft maintenance course in Malaysia!
#1. The Basics of Aircraft Maintenance
Aircraft maintenance relates to the inspection, repair, modification, replacement and overhaul of aircraft equipment to ensure that an aircraft is in optimal condition and most importantly, safe for flying.
Aircrafts, such as aeroplanes and helicopters, are often subject to undergo routine maintenance after a certain number of flight hours or flight cycles. During this time, aircraft maintenance engineers and technicians perform inspections to ensure the quality and airworthiness of aircrafts. Some of the tasks include replacing worn or damaged components, testing engine operation to detect malfunctions and inspecting engine parts such as turbine blades and cylinders for wear, warping and leaks.
As part of your studies in aircraft maintenance, you will equip yourself with the knowledge and skills to inspect aircraft components and systems, diagnose aircraft-related problems and rectify these issues accordingly. You will also gain an understanding of the legal requirements relating to the operation of commercial aircrafts.
#2. Studying Aircraft Maintenance
a) Entry Requirements and Qualifications
There are several ways to obtain an aircraft maintenance qualification after SPM.
(i) Diploma in Aircraft Maintenance
If you are planning to pursue a Diploma in Aircraft Maintenance, these are the general entry requirements that you are required to meet:
- SPM/O-Level: Minimum 3 credits including Mathematics, and a pass in English
Some institutions may also require you to have a credit in a Science subject.
A Diploma in Aircraft Maintenance typically takes about 2.5 years to 3 years to complete, providing you the foundation you need to take an aircraft maintenance licence later on.
(ii) Degree in Aircraft Maintenance
In order to pursue a Degree in Aircraft Maintenance, you will generally need:
- STPM: Minimum of 3C’s including Mathematics & 1 science subject
- Diploma: Minimum CGPA of 2.50
- Foundation in Science: Minimum CGPA of 2.00
A Degree in Aircraft Maintenance typically takes about 3 to 4 years to complete.
b) Professional Aircraft Maintenance Qualifications
(i) What is an aircraft maintenance licence?
The aircraft maintenance industry is highly regulated as any minor error can result in an aircraft crashing with lives lost. Therefore, aviation authorities around the world require aircraft maintenance engineers and technicians to be licensed in order to carry out maintenance work on an aircraft.
Different regulatory bodies have different geographical jurisdictions. Some examples are:
- Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM), previously known as the Department of Civil Aviation Malaysia (DCAM), for Malaysia
- European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for the European Union
- Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) for Singapore
- Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) for Australia
These authorities issue professional aircraft maintenance licences which enables you to become a Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (LAME) or an Aircraft Maintenance Technician (AMT).
(ii) What licence is required to be an aircraft maintenance professional in Malaysia?
In Malaysia, the aviation authority is the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM). It issues the DCAM Part-66 Aircraft Maintenance Licence (AML), which is the licence that you will need to be a licensed aircraft maintenance professional.
There are several categories under this licence, which differentiates between an aircraft maintenance technician and an aircraft maintenance engineer. The different categories of licence will allow you perform different types of aircraft maintenance tasks.
- Category A (Aircraft Maintenance Technician): Allows you to issue certificates of release to service (CRS) following minor scheduled line maintenance and simple defect rectification with limited certification privileges.
- Category B1 (Aircraft Maintenance Engineer – Mechanical): Allows you to issue certificates of release to service (CRS) and certificates of fitness of aircrafts following the maintenance of aircraft structure, engine, mechanical and electrical systems. This licence also covers Category A certification privileges.
- Category B2 (Aircraft Maintenance Engineer – Avionics): Allows you to issue certificates of release to service (CRS) following the maintenance of avionic, electrical and electronic systems used for navigation, communications and flight control. This licence does not cover Category A certification privileges.
(iii) What are the requirements to obtain a DCAM Part-66 Aircraft Maintenance Licence?
To apply for the DCAM Part-66 Aircraft Maintenance Licence, you must be at least 21 years old and pass SPM with a credit in English.
Formal education, such as having a diploma or a degree, is not necessary if you have the relevant practical aircraft maintenance experience. However, enrolling yourself in a training centre will equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills. In addition, many institutions will also provide you with adequate practical experience and industrial training, which will be helpful when you take your professional papers.
(iv) How about the EASA Part-66 Aircraft Maintenance Licence?
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Part-66 Aircraft Maintenance Licence, which is offered by some institutions in Malaysia, is a similar professional aircraft maintenance licence with some differences.
Notably, the EASA licence allows you to work abroad as it is recognised in the European Union (e.g. UK, France, Germany, Netherlands) and selected countries overseas. However, if you want to practise in Malaysia, you will need to obtain a DCAM licence, which is generally only recognised in Malaysia.
c) How does your education pathway look like?
After SPM or O-Level, you can either take a Diploma in Aircraft Maintenance or pre-university or foundation course, which will lead you to a degree.
Upon completing your Diploma or Degree in Aircraft Maintenance, you can pursue a professional aircraft maintenance qualification (e.g. DCAM Part-66 AML to work in Malaysia, EASA Part-66 AML for Europe, etc.) to be able to certify the airworthiness of an aircraft. This can be done either full-time or part-time while working and gaining practical experience.
Note that the DCAM Part-66 licence is only valid for 2 years and is subject to renewal.
d) What Will You Study in an Aircraft Maintenance Course?
The topics that you will likely come across while studying a Diploma in Aircraft Maintenance or professional qualification might include:
- Maintenance Practices
- Materials and Hardware
- Electrical Fundamentals
- Aircraft Landing Gears
- Aircraft Hydraulics and Pneumatics
- Instrument and Avionics Systems
- Piston Engine
- Gas Turbine Engine
#3. Why Should You Study Aircraft Maintenance?
If you’ve always been intrigued by the way planes work and don’t mind getting your hands dirty, aircraft maintenance might be the career for you! Here are some reasons you should study aircraft maintenance.
(a) You have a knack for fixing things
Do you enjoy dismantling and reassembling objects around you to understand how they work? Whether it’s a simple household item or a complex machine, discovering and improving the inner workings of machines gives you a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.
b) You are a hands-on person
Are you the type of person who prefers working with machines over human beings any day? If you’re keen on getting your hands dirty to solve problems, this career could be just the thing for you. It goes without saying that aircraft maintenance technicians and engineers must possess a high level of technical skill to ensure precision and quality in their work, as well as to assure the safety of an aircraft based on industry standards.
(c) You are detailed-oriented
To excel in aircraft maintenance, you must have a keen eye for detail as you will be working with large and small structural components within an aircraft, in addition to other important components. You must also be able to detect minor changes in the way the aircraft performs and troubleshoot problems effectively to ensure optimum airworthiness as it affects the safety of passengers.
#4. What Skills Do You Need to Study Aircraft Maintenance?
(a) Good organisational skills
Aircraft maintenance engineers and technicians must maintain a meticulous inventory of the components required for repair and equipment replacement, in addition to carefully documenting all pre-flight inspections and maintenance of the aircraft between flights. It’s equally important to know which procedures to prioritise to ensure all the required checks are done, without any room for error. You may also be required to work on weekends and at night, so be prepared to manage your life around your rotating shifts.
(b) Good decision-making skills
Risk-based decision-making is crucial as aircraft maintenance engineers will inevitably need to make decisions about the condition of aircraft components, what types of wear and tear can be tolerated, as well as what parts need to be repaired or replaced. These decisions have critical consequences and must be made with extreme care and consideration.
(c) Good problem-solving skills
One of the main roles of an aircraft maintenance engineer is to discern the problems within an aircraft and to find quick and safe solutions to these issues. This aptitude for problem-solving must be coupled with sophisticated technical knowledge to ensure that the safest and most efficient solution is used, and involves the application of knowledge from several fields, including mathematics and engineering principles.
#5. What Career Options Do You Have With an Aircraft Maintenance Qualification?
After completing your aircraft maintenance course, your job titles may include:
- Aircraft Maintenance Technician
- Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Mechanical)
- Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Avionics)
- Aero Components Repair Technician
- Quality Assurance Engineer
- Airworthiness Inspector
- Technical Services Engineer
If you pursue your career abroad, you may have to obtain the relevant professional qualifications (e.g EASA Part-66 Aircraft Maintenance Licence for Europe, General Civil Aviation (GCAA) License for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) )to advance your career.
#6. Where Can You Study Aircraft Maintenance in Malaysia
Below are some institutions that offer aircraft maintenance courses in Malaysia. Alternatively, you can check out the approved training organisations by CAAM here.
Diploma in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering
Campus: Nilai, Negeri Sembilan
Intakes: Jan, Mar, May, Jul & Oct
Estimated Fees: RM48,886
Scholarships: Up to 100% tuition fee waiver
Syllabus incorporates the EASA Part-66 curriculum, enabling you to pursue your professional qualification with ease
Purpose-built hangar with 2 aircrafts to hone your aircraft maintenance skills
Strong links with the aviation industry, including AirAsia, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Air Mauritius, MASwings and Eurocopter Malaysia
Option to pursue a one-year top-up upon completing the diploma to obtain a Degree in Aircraft Maintenance from Kingston University
Universiti Kuala Lumpur
Diploma of Engineering Technology in Aeroplane Maintenance
Campus: Dengkil, Selangor
Intakes: Jan & Jun
Estimated Fees: RM39,000
Approved training organisation by CAAM and EASA
Use real aircrafts for training with actual aircraft components as training aids
Industry exposure through practical training at the end of the programme