Flight engineers assist pilots and co-pilots on large aircraft by monitoring and operating many of the instruments and systems and watching for other aircraft. They carry out minor repairs and adjustments before take-off, while the aircraft is in flight, and after landing, to ensure the safety of the aircraft constantly.
Before take-off flight engineers carry out safety checks against a pre-flight check list. These checks include: inspecting for fuel or oil leaks; checking for electrical, hydraulic or pressurisation system malfunctions; verifying that passengers, freight and fuel do not exceed the weight limitations, and that the weight is evenly distributed.
While the aircraft is in flight the flight engineer needs to focus on the following tasks: monitoring fuel gauges and calculating the rate of fuel consumption; keeping a log of fuel consumption and engine performance; monitoring aircraft speed; maintaining cabin temperature; carrying out minor repairs; taking emergency measures in the case of equipment failure; logging repairs that were not corrected during flight and reporting these to the ground crew on landing.
As many flights take the crew of the aeroplane to far-off destinations, away from home, the airline provides hotel accommodation and an allowance for expenses. Since flights are at all hours of the day and night, work schedules are often irregular.