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How Do I Become a Flight Engineer?

Perfect vision is required for a flight engineer, though this may be achieved through corrective laser eye surgery.
Flight engineers at commercial airlines must pass a certification test before earning their license.
Flight engineers in older commercial jets work from an aircraft's cockpit.
A flight engineer is often responsible for ensuring aircraft are safe for takeoff.
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  • Written By: M. Kayo
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 27 October 2014
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In order to become a flight engineer, you must first acquire specific training. Most flight engineers are able to comprehend very complex concepts, have a knack for complicated mathematical formulas and a general interest in aviation. The requirements to become a flight engineer include extensive training that may be costly. Training can be acquired in the armed forces or at various civilian aviation schools that have been certified by regional aviation authorities. It may be easier to begin your career path as a flight engineer at one of the smaller, regional airlines and to work your way up through the ranks.

The minimum age to become a flight engineer is 21 years. Just like pilots, flight engineers must pass a rigorous physical examination. A second-class medical certificate and perfect vision is required through the use of corrective lenses, contacts, or corrective laser eye surgery. Flight engineers are also required to speak, write, read and comprehend the English language or have a language limitation indicated on their flight engineer's license. Other required studies include courses in meteorology, airplane systems, theory of aerodynamics, fuel consumption computation, and emergency procedures.

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Completion of two years of college and specific training is required of all who desire to become a flight engineer. Flight training starts with commercial pilot training and acquiring a commercial pilot's license, which requires 250 hours of recorded flight time before an application to become a flight engineer can be submitted. Civilian flight engineers must then acquire additional training through organizations like the Airline Transport Professionals Flight Training School or from the US Air Force if serving in the military. The prospective flight engineer may then submit an application to obtain a flight engineer's license. Before getting a license, he or she must pass tests that cover subjects like preflight inspection, servicing an aircraft, pre-takeoff and landing procedures.

Competition for major airline or air carrier flight engineer positions is likely to be high. Starting out at a smaller commuter or regional airline allows you to acquire the necessary experience and knowledge required by most of the larger national airlines. Some individuals who want to become flight engineers begin their careers as air traffic controllers or working in airfield operations and then move up. In 2011, the need for new flight engineers is decreasing as many of the newer airplanes are designed to require just two pilots. Licensed pilots who have also earned a flight engineer's license are preferred by most large national and international airlines.

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