Adding additional ratings to your AME licence
There are many options when it comes to being an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME), they include
· M1 - aircraft with a Max Certified Takeoff Weight (MCTOW) of less than 12,566 lbs
· M2 – aircraft with a MCTOW of 12,566 lbs and up, as well as all turbojet-powered aircraft regardless of size (Cirrus SF50 Vission jet for example)
· E – Avionics Systems
· S – structures
For more info on earning your initial rating, read my article Requirements to hold an Aircraft Maintenance Engineers (AME) Licence
Many apprentices start off focusing on a single rating. This is often even necessary to help you complete your apprenticeship in good time, but you may also be interested in an additional rating, and it is possible for you to earn all the AME ratings if you wish.
Say you recently earned your M1 licence. You finished your 48-month apprenticeship, completed all the technical and regulatory exams, and filled out at least 70% of the M1-related tasks in your logbook. Congrats, you are not the holder of a shinny new M1 license and can sign off a maintenance release for that category.
But what if your company also has M2 category aircraft, an avionics department, or a structures division? Wouldn't it be great if you could also obtain signing authority in those areas? To do so, you will need to add the necessary rating in addition to your M1 licence.
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In Canadian Aviation Regulation (CAR) 566 Appendix A, lives a nice chart outlining the requirements for each AME category. In this chart, under “Aviation Maintenance Experience” is a column titled “Specialty” which lists several time requirements.
Outlined in these "specialty" requirements is the minimal additional time that must be spent on each rating in order to add it to your current licence. So, let's return to your current M1. To meet the requirements for adding an M2 rating, you would need to work on M2 category aircraft for at least an extra 12 months.
How do you then demonstrate to Transport Canada (TC) that you have completed a full year of M2 work? The same way you showed them your M1 work, with a logbook. This means that you must finish a new logbook and complete at least 70% of the M2-related tasks.
Since you completed the required maintenance examination (Standard Practices M Rating, Airframe, Power Plant, and Regulations) when you earned your M1 licence, you do not need to complete these exams again.
Now that everything is in order, you can bring your logbook, current licence, and any other necessary documents to TC and apply for the M2 rating. I'll come back to what an M1/M2 combination can do for you, but let's have a look at adding the other ratings first
If you were interested in adding the Avionics or Structures ratings you would need to follow a similar process as the one taken to add your M2, But compared to the M2 path, there are some additional steps that must be taken here. As you can see in the "specialty" column of Appendix A, Avionics is marked as requiring 12 months of experience, so you must have a minimum of 12 months of avionics experience that is documented in a logbook. However, Structures is marked as requiring 24 months, so you must have two additional years of experience that is also documented in a logbook.
In addition to the extra time and tasks, Avionics and Structures also have different examinations than the M ratings. The required exams for each rating are listed in a chart also found in Appendix A. While M1 & M2 share the same exams, Avionics lists Standard Practices E Rating (SPE), and Avionics “all systems” (AV). Similarly, Structures lists Standard Practices S Rating (SPS) and Structures “all structures” (ST).
What this means is, if you have strictly an M1 or M2 and wish to add E or S, your M exams do not count towards the additional rating, and you will need to complete the appropriate exams for the category you are working towards.
This is a lot of info, so, to recap:
12 months for E, 24 for S, minimum 70% completed logbook, and appropriate exams.
Now, I mentioned I would come back to the combined M1/M2. CAR 566.02(9) states
Individuals who hold both an M1 and M2 rating will not be issued any additional ratings (e.g. E or S ratings), as those privileges are already held within the scope of the combined M1/M2 rating privileges.”
That is pretty cool eh? But let’s look into this. This information note is saying that if you hold both an M1 and M2 you also hold E and S privileges. Therefore, you must be able to perform avionics and structures when ever you please correct? Not necessarily.
Beyond the requirements of an Approved Maintenance Organization (AMO), (who are the only organizations that can perform the specialized maintenance of E and S ratings, and will be discussed in a future article) your use of E & S with your combined M1/M2 is limited to your experience.
For example, I have an M1/M2 and I have a decent amount of avionics installation experience, so, under an approved AMO, I would be comfortable working on that type of avionics work, and I would attempt earning their Shop Certification Authority (SCA) rather quickly. But I would never try to touch the inside of a radio, MFD, or GPS, etc. as I do not have sufficient experience with that type of E work. It would want to gain more experience in that area before I would be comfortable to attempt an SCA for that kind of work.
Now I am sure a few of you have had different experiences than those written above. For example, I needed two logbooks, an M1 and a separate M2, in order to earn my combined rating at the same time. I know others who achieved the same ratings with one book. In addition, I have heard a variety of personal examples and experiences around adding an E or S rating.
My advice for any apprentice out there who wants to ensure they have everything in order, is to speak with your Transport Canada representatives. Despite the rumours, they are not evil. They are fellow aviators who are here to help keep us all safe. If you are unsure of a process or procedure, double-check with your TC representative.
If you are in the middle of your apprenticeship and are moving somewhere with a different TC regional office, it’s not a bad idea to reach out to that new office and ensure you are up to date on any changes and on the right track for your licence.
Adding another rating to your AME licence opens the door to even more amazing opportunities, and experiences and adds to your capability. Below are some of the important sections of CAR 566
(a) The scope of maintenance release privileges is indicated by rating designators entered on the licence, as follows:
(i) M1: Non-turbojet aircraft approved to Chapter CAR 522, 523, 523-VLA, 527, and 549 of the Airworthiness Manual and equivalent standards (includes all airframe, engines, propellers, components, structures, and systems of those aircraft);
(ii) M2: All aircraft not included in M1 (excluding balloons) (includes all airframes, engines, propellers, components, structures, and systems of those aircraft).
(iii) E: Aircraft electronic systems. (includes communication, pulse, navigation, auto flight, flight path computation, instruments and the electrical elements of other aircraft systems, and any structural work directly associated with the maintenance of those systems);
(iv) S: Aircraft structures. (includes all airframe structures);
(b) Holders of either an M1 or M2 rated AME licence also have maintenance release privileges for all:
(i) turbine powered helicopters; and
(ii) SFAR 41C aeroplanes, including their associated variants and derivatives.
(9) Additional ratings.
An AME may apply for additional ratings by meeting the requirements specified in 566.03. Credit will be granted for any requirements that were met in qualifying for the currently held ratings.
Individuals who hold both an M1 and M2 rating will not be issued any additional ratings (e.g. E or S ratings), as those privileges are already held within the scope of the combined M1/M2 rating privileges.
(i) Applicants shall have performed a representative selection of eligible maintenance tasks, over the full range of applicable systems and structures; those tasks being comprised of not less than 70 percent of the items listed in Appendix B that are applicable to the rating sought and to the aircraft, systems or components for which the experience is claimed.