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Aircraft Mechanic, Aviation Maintenance Technicians, Aviation Maintenance Schools

Learn how to become an aviation maintenance technician, aircraft mechanic, or avionics technician.

Aviation maintenance technicians, aircraft mechanics, and avionics technicians make sure that pilots fly safe airplanes and helicopter. Every day, thousands of planes, jets and helicopters are flown all over the world; and the lives of the flight crew and passengers depend on aircraft mechanics and aviation maintenance and service technicians to ensure that aircrafts are safe and have dependable performance. The outlook for future employment in the Aviation Maintenance field is outstanding. There is a critical shortage of Aircraft Mechanics and Aircraft Maintenance Technicians now, and this shortage will increase in the next ten years as air travel continues to expand and experienced technicians retire.

Throughout this document, the term “aircraft mechanic” is used to refer to all aviation maintenance and service technicians.

The Aircraft Mechanic channel is designed to help you learn more about becoming an Aircraft Mechanic and Aviation Maintenance Technician. The more you know about your options in this career field; you will be able to make an informed decision about your educational and career goals. The topics below will help you learn about various aspects of this career field and how to becoming an aircraft mechanic. Select a topic to learn more.

Job Description
Type of Aviation Maintenance Technicians
Education and Training
Helpful High School Courses
Skills and Other Requirements
Career Advancement
Union Memberships
Working Conditions
Hours and Benefits
Job Outlook
Aviation Employers
How to become an Aircraft Mechanic
Frequently Asked Questions
Similar Careers
Sources of Additional Information


Aviation Maintenance Technicians: Job Description

To keep aircraft in peak operating condition, aircraft mechanics perform scheduled maintenance for each individual aircraft, troubleshoot problems, make repairs, and complete inspections required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA is responsible for certification, regulation and compliance in assuring aviation safety. Any person involved in operating or maintaining an aircraft must hold an FAA certificate.

Aircraft mechanics may work on one or many different types of aircraft, such as jets, propeller-driven airplanes, and helicopters. Some mechanics may specialize in one section of a particular type of aircraft, such as the airframe, engine, hydraulic, or electrical system. In small repair shops, mechanics usually work on many types of aircraft. In larger shops, they are more likely to specialize in a particular area. Avionics systems are now an integral part of aircraft design and have vastly increased aircraft capability. As technology advances, mechanics (authorized to work on electronics and avionics) spend an increasing amount of time repairing electronic systems, such as computerized controls. Mechanics also may be required to analyze and develop solutions to complex electronic problems.

Many aircraft mechanics, also called airframe, powerplant, or avionics technicians, specialize in preventive maintenance. They inspect engines (powerplants), landing gear, instruments, brakes, valves, pumps, and other parts of the aircraft, and perform the necessary maintenance and replacement of parts. Inspections may occur after the aircraft has flown a certain number of hours, a specific number of calendar days since the last inspection, cycles of operation, or a combination of these factors. Large, sophisticated planes are equipped with aircraft monitoring systems, consisting of electronic boxes and consoles that monitor the aircraft’s basic operations and provide valuable diagnostic information to the mechanic. To examine an engine, aircraft mechanics work through specially designed openings while standing on ladders or scaffolds, or use hoists or lifts to remove the entire engine from the craft. After taking an engine apart, mechanics use precision instruments to measure parts for wear and use x-ray and magnetic inspection equipment to check for invisible cracks. Worn or defective parts are repaired or replaced. Mechanics may also repair sheet metal or composite surfaces, measure the tension of control cables, and check for corrosion, distortion, and cracks in the fuselage, wings, and tail. After completing all repairs, they must test the equipment to ensure that it works properly.

Mechanics specializing in repairwork rely on the pilot’s description of a problem to find and fix faulty equipment. For example, during a preflight check, a pilot may discover that the aircraft’s fuel gauge does not work. To solve the problem, mechanics may troubleshoot the electrical system, using electrical test equipment to make sure that no wires are broken or shorted out, and replace any defective electrical or electronic components.

Types of Aviation Maintenance Technicians

The FAA certificates an aircraft mechanic as either a/an:
Powerplant Mechanic - authorized to work on engines and do limited work on propellers.
Airframe Mechanic - authorized to test and repair any part of the aircraft except the instruments, power plants, and propellers.
Combination Airframe-and-Powerplant Mechanic (A&P Mechanic) - authorized to work on all parts of the plane except instruments. The majority of mechanics working on civilian aircraft today are A & P mechanics.
Avionics Technician - authorized to check, repair, and maintain electronic components used for aircraft navigation and radio communications, weather radar systems, and other instruments and computers that control flight, engine, and other primary functions. Avionics technicians who service transmitting equipment--radios or radar--must also hold a radiotelephone license issued by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Please Note:
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) licenses a mechanic as a General Radiotelephone Operator and issues appropriate license endorsements based on the individual's knowledge of radio transmissions, basic electricity, and radar.

Avionics technicians usually need other types of certifications from one or more of these associations:
The National Association of Radio and Telecommunications Engineers, Inc.
The International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians
The Electronics Technicians Association

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Education and Training

Sources by: Federal Aviation Administration, US Occupational Handbook, and U.S. Department of Defense.



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