Becoming a certified Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME) in Canada

Aircraft maintenance engineers are one the lesser known heroes in all of aviation as pertains to it’s safety. I suspect you have a general understanding of what an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME) does. If you are interested in becoming one in Canada or in learning more about this professions. You will want to read on.

For most controlled industries there are basic entry requirements, skill assessments and rigorous certification processes. Joining the aviation industry as a certified aircraft mechanic is no different except in that it is more complicated than most realize.

Here is the brief summary of the key mile stones between you and your goal.

Before you apply to an Approved Training Organization in Canada

A science oriented background, while recommended, is not mandatory but be prepared to learn some physics and mathematics. You will be required to hold a high-school diploma or equivalent prior to enrollment.

A strong command of the English language is a necessity because it is after all the official means of communication in aviation. Reading and understanding manuals is a large portion of your responsibility, along with writing legibly and cohesively when documenting the work you do.

Citizenship: This one is fairly simple, you must be the citizen of any country and have the means to prove that i.e. international passport.

Age requirements: No official age restriction exists for entry into the basic training programs, but in order to obtain your license down this road, you must be at least 21 years of age at the time of issue. More on this later.

Having considered the above, your next task is to select a suitable Transport Canada ATO. You will have more than a dozen institutions to choose from, and some items you should consider are tuition costs, living expense, minimum duration of study, accreditation/approval of program, applicable credits awarded expressed in months, and specialization options i.e. Maintenance (M) vs Maintenance (M) + Avionics (E).

Once you’ve made your choice, applied and gotten accepted, congratulations are in order but your journey has just begun…


What to expect in basic training

Usually regular college semesters resume in the month of September. Class sizes can range from 14-22 students with whom you’ll learn theory in class and spend the other half of your day in the shop/hangar developing your hands on technical skills.

Typically, training takes two academic years; each year is sub-divided into (2.5) semesters. Semesters comprise of multiple two week blocks, and you can expect to be tested at the end of each block. A minimum passing grade of 70% is mandatory; it is also crucial to note that some courses are prerequisites for more advanced courses in the program, and, as such, failure could potentially increase the overall duration of your study. Attendance is monitored closely and in order to be awarded full credits upon completion of your study you must adhere to the 95% cumulative attendance rule.

Tools and Equipment

 

An ATO should  provide any specialized tooling and equipment required for your training. You will be required to keep a neat personal tool box of basic tools like standard wrenches, screw drivers, pliers, ratchets, sockets, hammers, flash lights, inspection mirrors, etc. Most colleges are equipped with a library where you can periodically borrow reading material to aid your learning. A textbook list should be provided to you when you enroll. A few books to purchase for your own reference include: Canadian Aviation Regulations book (CARs) for the AME
AC 43.13 -1b

Canadian AME logbook

Aviation Mechanic Handbook

Standard Aircraft Handbook

When you are in the shop/hangar environment, basic Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE) like eyewear, ear plugs, reflective safety coveralls, and CSA hard-toe shoes are all mandatory. You will be responsible for bringing and maintaining your own equipment.


What to expect after completing basic training

Once again, congratulations are in order as you have successfully completed a portion of the steps in pursuing your AME License to be issued by Transport Canada (TC). Depending on which ATO you graduated from and if you adhered to the strict attendance policy, you should have received a diploma certificate with a TC approval number as well as the corresponding accreditation credit in months. This will be counted towards the 48 month total experience and knowledge you need to be eligible for AME licensure consideration. Below is a sample of the accreditation statement imprinted on an AME Logbook upon completion of basic training. Subtracting the amount indicated(i.e. 21 months) from the total number (48 months) of experience required gives you the minimum duration of apprenticeship(i.e. 27 months).

Your next step is to search and apply for a job as an apprentice in your desired field i.e. (M) or (E). You will also need to narrow the search down based on whether you want to dedicate your life to fixed winged aircraft or helicopters. Often times, HR recruiters from various companies often hold job-fairs at ATOs with the intent of hiring promising second year students as soon as they graduate. Some relevant things to enquire concerning the employers are what kind of AMO they operate (line maintenance vs heavy maintenance, or medical services, firefighting, etc. ), which aircraft types they have (large M2 or smaller non turbo jet M1) because this will affect what type of experience towards licensure you will be able to record in your  Canadian AME logbook pertinent to CARs Part V Chapter 566.

What to expect after you land your first job as an Apprentice Aircraft Technician (AT)

Woohoo!! You did it. You are now the broom boy/girl for at least the next 27 months, doing almost everything you are told for a chance to learn from the engineers you’ll have the absolute privilege of working with.

Congratulations, you are indeed “in”. You can expect starting wages to range between $15-20 per hour, plus night shift premium if they apply. Your on the job training has officially begun; you will now perform and sign for elementary tasks as per CARs Standard 625 Appendix A .

Your ability to follow instruction, adapt when you go wrong, learn on your feet, interact and communicate efficiently with others will be put to the test here, as you will be part of a team that rely on each other. Make no mistake about this, while recording the tasks you perform in the appropriate ATA section of your logbook is highly important, gaining the trust and respect of those you work with by prioritizing safety is even more important. It’s advisable to take note of the tools you often borrow from colleagues and add them to your wish list along with a multi-tool and a counter top roll-along toolbox. Resist the pressure to buy every single Snap-on tool out there, because even though you will eventually cave, it is an unnecessarily expensive addiction on an apprentice salary.


Your logbook

It is advisable that by the second year as an apprenticeship, you begin to take filling out your logbook more seriously. By this time you should be feeling slightly more confident and have gained the trust of the engineers who will attest to the work you record. Six months to the end of the 48 month journey of experience and knowledge, you are now eligible to both attempt the CARs exam and submit your logbook to a transport Canada inspector for evaluation.

How to Apply for Your AME License

Hurray!!! You are almost done. soon you’ll be able to sign a maintenance release(maybe)

First you will need to download this form TC 24-0083

This application form is for applicants who have successfully completed a Transport Canada (TC) Approved Training Organization (ATO) basic training course with knowledge credit (42-48 months)

Fill out section A , tick “Initial Application” in the top left corner ,pay the fee and submit a scanned copy along with all required supporting documents to the nearest regional office to you.

Addresses can be found on the bottom of this form.

More on completing the form

Keep the original of the completed version of the form and I recommend making a few copies, you’ll need this form when you get scheduled for the CARs exam: the examiner will fill in your score in section B

Note: an application for license issue is not considered to be “complete” until all requirements set out in the regulatory standard have been satisfactorily fulfilled.

The order in which you “complete” your application is flexible: it could be that you submit logbook for evaluation first and then take the exam or take the exam first and then submit your logbook. Either way, you must score at least 70% on the written test and have your logbook approved at a minimum of 75% complete.

!!!Important!!! You must get the front portion of your logbook filled out and signed by an accountable executive or  D.O.M at your Approved Maintenance Organization (AMO)


What to expect when your AME license application is Approved

Yaba daba doo time! You actually did it. I congratulate you!!! Welcome to the club. You’ll receive a temporary printable license before the plastic card arrives in the mail in about 14 days tops. It will have your name, license number, license category and expiry date on it (10 years on your birthday).

You’ll be wise to inform someone in your organization about your recent success and provide them with a scanned copy so they can inform payroll to do the necessary. you could be looking at a significant $4-10 hourly raise. Perhaps now you can take another glance at that “Snap on Wishlist” we talked about earlier.

With more money authority comes more responsibility, You’ll be looking out for yourself now. In Addition to doing more complex tasks, you will also be responsible for apprentices. Take a few moment to let that thought really sink in.

Next ,you’ll like to be on your best behavior and do as much work as you can safely because the organization might be considering you for an endorsement course that costs roughly $10,000. They will likely want to gauge your commitment. Just a heads up

Good luck 👍 if you would like to take a peek further down into your career keep reading.


What to expect after you get an endorsement/type course

Another rung on the ladder of success. Congratulations!!! I must add that it is not uncommon to feel like a fraud at this point and here is why: you have just received an all expense paid training course in which you were bombarded with information. The tendency is to be overwhelmed and that might leave you feeling inadequate. “I don’t know as much as I should about the aircraft, what if people someone comes to me in search of answers I don’t have”

However, the endorsement is only one part you need to receive approval (ACA) from the person in charge of maintenance at your AMO. . Sorry to be a wet blanket, did I say congratulations?

In order to receive the full signing authority, you many need to be quizzed on company policies regarding regulatory compliance procedures for critical systems, independent checks, Etops etc. If all goes as planned in the Aircraft Certification Authority (ACA) interview, you will be granted the almighty power of single-handedly signing out an entire aircraft as fit and safe for flight.  Hoorah! your pay just went up again and if all goes well you will get a special stamp.


What to expect after you get an Aircraft Certification Authorization (ACA) stamp

Seriously you are crushing it, at this pace you might reach the ceiling before you know it. Now you just have to dig in and really get to know your aircraft. The world is your oyster, a little advice: face every problem head-on and learn from every tough snag you encounter.

Though it may feel like others are counting on you, and indeed we are, never forget to ask for help when you need it. The Maintenance operations control (M.O.C) office is on standby with impressive resources. They are a team of experienced personnel you can consult in emergency and if all else fails: the aircraft or component manufacturer is usually a telephone call away.

At this junction in your career you will not be eager to rush onto the next rung but odds are the years ahead will prepare you for becoming a confident aircraft inspector.

Where can you go from the top?

The picture above shows a few opportunities we think an AME at the top of their careers should consider.

Wow you’ve earned the coveted IA with probably well over a decade of work experience under your belt. There are quite a few roles you could transition into.. Some of your options include teaching at an ATO, Director of maintenance, working for Transport Canada and other government agencies and more.

 

“Career consulting thrives because too often people either underestimate or overestimate their abilities. Both proving to be equally as damaging”

 Timeyin Owojaiye– Author