HNC/HND Aircraft Engineering

Higher National qualifications provide practical skills and theoretical knowledge that meet the needs of employers. The HNC and HND Aircraft Engineering allow learners to develop knowledge, understanding and practical skills to embark on, or further, a career in the modern aircraft engineering business, whether in aircraft design and manufacturing, aircraft operations, or maintenance and repair.

The qualifications build on general aspects of aircraft engineering, providing knowledge, skills and understanding of the main specialist disciplines (engineering mathematics, aircraft structures, materials, aircraft propulsion, aircraft engineering, electrical and avionics, aerodynamics and flight mechanics) as well as their integration into aircraft systems. The HND also covers Human Factors for Aircraft Engineering.

The aircraft engineering qualifications are available through colleges. Typically, an HNC takes one year to complete and an HND takes two years.

This subject will not have alternative assessment guidance for session 2023-24. You should refer to the Group Award/Unit specifications for detailed delivery and assessment information. For general support on delivery and assessment see the HNVQ assessment guidance 2023-24.

Higher National qualifications have been developed by SQA in partnership with colleges, universities and industry, so employers recognise that they provide sound evidence of ability.

There is a wide choice of optional Units which will enable centres to offer courses tailored to meet local needs. The qualification structures provide a balanced mix of aircraft engineering design and maintenance-related topics which will best serve learners in the early years (SCQF levels 7 and 8) of their aircraft engineering education. In doing so, these qualifications provide the foundation for progression into different sectors of the industry as well as progression to degree-level studies.

The HNC and HND in Aircraft Engineering are suitable for a wide range of candidates including:

  • school leavers
  • students progressing from relevant further education qualifications
  • adult returners to education
  • individuals in employment who wish to enhance their career prospects 


As with all SQA qualifications, entry is at the discretion of the centre. However, learners would benefit from having attained the skills, knowledge and understanding required by one or more of the following or equivalent qualifications and/or experience:

  • National 5 English or equivalent (SCQF level 5)

Plus one of the following:

  • At least one Higher (SCQF level 6) or equivalent in Mathematics, Physics or Engineering Science
  • SQA National Certificate (NC) in an engineering discipline at SCQF level 6
  • SVQ Level 3 in Aeronautical Engineering (SCQF level 6)
  •  EASA Part 66 Category A for aircraft certifying mechanics (SCQF level 6)

Different combinations of relevant National Qualifications, vocational qualifications and equivalent qualifications from other awarding bodies may also be acceptable.

Progression and employment

Learners who achieve an HNC Aircraft Engineering can progress to the HND Aircraft Engineering.

The HND Aircraft Engineering can provide progression to degrees in Aircraft and Aeronautical Engineering.

Centres with devolved authority for approval should use their own internal approval process.

Centres without devolved authority will have to come forward for approval and should contact SQA's Business Development Team for guidance.

Assessors and verifiers must be able to meet SQA's general requirements for technical/occupational competence as outlined in the Guide to Approval.

Each individual Unit specification gives detailed information on the Evidence Requirements and approaches to assessment for each Unit.

Assessment support packs are available for the mandatory Units within the HNC and HND.

HNC Aircraft Engineering

Group Award code: GK7915 (96 SCQF credit points)

HNC Aircraft Engineering at SCQF level 7 consists of 7 mandatory Units (56 SCQF credit points) and 5 optional SQA credits (40 SCQF credit points).

HND Aircraft Engineering

Group Award code: GK7D16 (240 SCQF credit points)

HND Aircraft Engineering at SCQF level 8 consists of 11 mandatory Units (96 SCQF credit points) and a number of optional Units (144 SCQF points).