He was born in Edremit district of Balıkesir, in 1941. He graduated from Galatasaray High School and studied Film Directing at Istituto Superiore Dell'opinione Pubblica and Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome. Between 1970 and 1974, he worked at Istanbul University, Photo-Film Centre. He worked as an assistant on Yılmaz Güney's film Arkadaş.

Between 1973 and 1975, he published the 7th Art film magazine with Atilla Dorsay and Nezih Coş. In 1974, he joined TRT Istanbul Television, where he directed various documentary films and cultural programmes until 1986. The first feature film he directed was Bez Bebek / Cloth Doll in 1988, which won Best Screenplay at the Ankara Film Festival and Best Actress (Hülya Koçyiğit) at Amiens. In 1990, she directed the film Soğuktu ve Yağmur Çiseliyordu / It Was Cold and Raining. Suna, which she directed in 2007, won the Best Supporting Actress Award (Gülsen Tuncer) at the Sadri Alışık Awards. He directed documentary films on social issues and traditions: Stories with Folk Songs, Bergama Says: The Dead Don't Wear Gold (1999), Geraniums at My Window (2004), Kilim: Journey to the Roots (2010) and Birleştik Tekel Olduk (2010). He shot Mahmut Yaseri's Water Flies as a five-part TRT series and directed the documentary series Kara Tepe for TRT under the supervision of Nazan Ölçer. He produced Haldun Dormen's TV programme Cinema. He directed the television programme Beni Hatırlayınız / Remember Me, a memoir about Atatürk.

He wrote articles on film in various magazines and newspapers and made translations; his articles were compiled in the book Şu Sinema Dedikleri / Cinema Writings Fifty Years of Accumulation (2016). He has two translated books on cinema: Eisenstein's Lecture Notes and 100 Years of Cinema. In 1994, he took part in the jury of the National Competition at the Istanbul Film Festival. He taught at Anadolu University and Marmara University Film-TV departments for a long time. According to film historian Burçak Evren, Engin Ayça is "a versatile man of culture who is concerned with cinema". He was awarded the SİYAD Honorar Award in 2022.