Approved Engine Course (AEC) Course Overview

The aim of the Approved Engine Course (AEC) Part 1 is to enable students to be able to complete all the necessary checks and action required to keep the engine operating when the boat is being used, giving seafarers the initial education and training in basic marine engineering meeting the Knowledge, Understanding and Proficiency (KUP) requirements set out by the UK’s Maritime Coastguard Agency.

Over the 4-day duration, course delegates will be working towards mastering skills through a variety of activities including classroom activities and practical application.

A typical class will have 16 delegates, and they will all study theory together- but will be halved to 8 in practical activities to ensure the instructor can give everyone the assistance they need.

What is Included?

Delegates will be learning everything necessary to know about general care and maintenance of engines on smaller vessels in order to keep good operational order including:

– The basic principles of combustion engine operation.
– The general arrangements of Internal Combustion engines.
– Handling, maintenance and care of fuel and the associated systems.
– Different designs and arrangements of the various other essential systems required for reliable engine operation.
– The principles of engine electrical systems.
– The principles of power transmission systems.
– The principles of maintenance essential for the safe and reliable operation of a small craft.

Course Structure

The course is broken down into 8 core segments:

Energy Sources

The introductory segment of the MCA AEC course is an overview of energy sources including the general principles of combustion and how the heat generated from this can be harnessed to produce energy in IC engines. This ensures that upon completion delegates will understand the mechanisms which power a vessel, to better understand the inner workings of the engine.
This is taught on the first day of the course and is primarily taught through theoretical resources with some practical demonstrations by the tutor. Students will be engaged in active discussion and observed throughout, to ensure that they are keeping up with the material.

Engine Construction

Later on in the courses’ first day, delegates will be taught the general arrangements and components of an IC engine. Understanding this is imperative in being able to monitor and maintain the engine.
This will firstly be taught through presentation and demonstration, but the afternoon session consists of practical exercises where the delegates get the opportunity to investigate the layout of the engine for themselves.

Fuel Systems

During the morning session of the second training day, delegates will be shown a presentation on the importance of maintaining the integrity of the fuel system, as well as the basic chemical principles behind the fuels used in IC engines. They will be taught the possible contaminators of the fuel, and how to check for them, and understand the importance of a fuel reserve.
Instruction will include questions and answers on how to identify different components of the fuel system, and practical exercises demonstrating the delegates skill to start a small craft engine and carry out preparation checks.

Support Systems & Pressure Change

The second half of day two will see delegates taught about the different support systems that are required in IC engines. This will include discussions about the different components of each system, as well as being able to identify potential faults.


Alongside learning about support systems, delegates will also be taught about the components and maintenance of cooling systems. These are crucial for maintaining the safety of the engines, and thus learning how to identify and repair faults is imperative for this course.
This is primarily a theoretical section of the module, but the instructor will carry out some physical demonstrations of the separate components and possible faults.

Electric Circuit

Day 3 focusses on the electrical systems aboard a vessel, and through instructor presentation, demonstration and discussion, delegates will learn the terminology and components involved in different systems.

Electric Batteries

As part of Day 3’s electrical training, delegates will be taught about the battery systems on board the ship, including their arrangements and charging systems.
Instruction of this section of the course will include discussion and questions and answers amongst the delegates to ensure all students understand the content.

Transmission of Power

Day 3 will conclude with a class on the different systems that can be used in transmission of power. This will include traditional systems like Shaftline as well as Diesel, electric and Hybrid, taught through discussion, as well as practical activity.

Day 4 of the course will revisit all previous practical elements of the course, in preparation for assessment in the afternoon.