BEING a caring parent, I wanted to see my son graduate as an aircraft maintenance engineer so I went looking around for colleges offering the course. I ended up at a college where I was convinced to register my son because I liked its ambience and good facilities.
At first I was happy, but my happiness dissipated when I bumped into a senior aircraft engineer during a social gathering. We got talking and discussed several topics especially related to the rapid growth of the aviation industry.
When I told him with pride that my son was doing a course in aircraft maintenance engineering, he asked whether it was a professional licensed programme.
I got the shock of my life after I told him my son was doing a diploma course in a prestigious college and he responded loudly and clearly that if the student does not do a licensing programme, he or she would not be allowed to touch a life aircraft. It was like a slap to my face.
I quickly withdrew my son from the college and registered him in an approved training centre which offers the Professional Aircraft Maintenance Licence programme.
I was really lucky to have met the senior aircraft engineer who is a Malay gentleman. I thank him for making me understand clearly that only licensed personnel can deal with operating life aircraft. Simply put, you need a professional licence to perform scheduled maintenance on life aircraft. He really saved my son from wasting his time and money.
It is quite disheartening to see many of our students taking up diploma or degree programmes in aircraft maintenance without realising that they would not be allowed to touch life aircraft if they don’t have the Professional Aircraft Maintenance Licence.
Sadly, students take up wrong courses and end up with academic qualifications that do not match the job they were aiming for.
This reminds me of my brother who studied medicine in an unrecognised university some 20 years ago. My father paid a lot of money for the course fees and my brother studied very hard for his medical degree. But he was not able to start housemanship for many years and had to go through rigorous procedures to get there.
Academic qualifications such as a diploma or degree in the field of aircraft maintenance do not make students employable. Airlines look for those with professional licences. Why wasn’t this explained to the students?
Why are the authorities concerned not making this clear to those who wish to pursue aircraft maintenance programmes?
The Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia, which issues professional aircraft maintenance licences, should come forward and shed light on this matter as students need the relevant advice and information.
Most students and their parents are ignorant of the fact that they need to do a professional programme in order to work as an aircraft maintenance engineer in aircraft hangers and MRO (maintenance, repair, overhaul) stations.
To those who want to take up this career, I would advise them to know the industry, be clear on what they want to study and understand that the professional licensing programme is a niche line. Parents must also help to find the right aeronautics training centre for their children.
I emphasise here that if you desire to be a professional aircraft maintenance engineer, then you should strive to do the right course, which is the Professional Licensed Aircraft Maintenance programme. Once again, I thank the senior aircraft maintenance engineer for his valuable advice.
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