Aircraft, Avionic and Airplane Technicians and Mechanics are classified according to the following categories:
- aircraft mechanics
- mechanics and technicians
- airframe mechanics
- power plant mechanics
- avionics technicians
Aircraft mechanics inspect airplane instruments and the engines; and aircraft accessories such as the brakes and pumping systems. They record maintenance repairs. Mechanics and technicians inspect the aircraft based upon its operation cycle and its maintenance schedule. Mechanics diagnose mechanical problems with the aircraft’s console or electronic box. They monitor the operation of the aircraft. They disassemble the engine and determine areas that have suffered from erosion. They repair faulty and malfunctioning parts. They measure for tension and check for cracks in the airplane’s wing and tail. They perform tests on the equipment after it has been repaired to ensure that it functions properly. Mechanics perform additional troubleshooting tests to locate electrical problems and broken wires. Most mechanics and technicians typically work on jets and helicopters; and some work on just the hydraulics system. Others work in small repair shops.
Airframe mechanics work on all parts of the aircraft except those parts that deal with the propellers and the power plants. Powerplant mechanics work on the engines. Both airframe mechanics and powerplant mechanics (A&P) work on most parts of the aircraft except the airplane’s instruments. Avionics technicians repair the systems that control the engine and the aircraft’s navigation instruments. They repair the electronic devices and the communications panel. Job opportunities are expected to continue for mechanics and technicians who hold an FAA-approved aircraft maintenance certificate.
Aircraft, Avionic and Airplane Technicians and Mechanics Job Responsibilities
Aircraft mechanics and technicians work under extreme pressure within loud and chaotic environments. They work in repair stations. They adhere to health and safety regulations. They often lift items and equipment that weighs a minimum of seventy pounds. They kneel and stand for long periods of time. They wear protective gear to cover their ears and eyes. They work a typical forty-hour work week that extends into overtime due to flight delays and aircraft maintenance problems.
Aircraft, Avionic and Airplane Technicians and Mechanics Training and Education Requirements
Mechanics and technicians must have completed a high school diploma. They must speak English. They must have a certification to work on the aircraft. Mechanics and technicians receive a certification conferred by the FAA through the Aviation Maintenance Technical School. As part of the requirements toward completion of the program, students must complete a minimum of 1900 in-class hours. The program typically lasts for two years. Mechanics and technicians may also complete a four-year degree in aviation technology or aviation maintenance through the FAA maintenance schools.
Mechanics and technicians may also receive their education through trade schools that offer an aircraft maintenance curriculum. The curriculum is typically centered on coursework studies in aircraft construction and aircraft maintenance. To complete these courses, students must have a working knowledge of computers and their connection to electronics. For an advanced degree in avionics, students must takes courses in physics, electronics, and mechanical drawing. Students may also consider taking courses in English and report writing.
Aircraft, Avionic and Airplane Technicians and Mechanics Salary and Wages
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage for mechanics and technicians was $24.71 in May 2008. For mechanics and technicians who worked for the federal government, the median hourly wage was $24.78. Avionics technicians received $23.71 in the same year, with the highest ten percent earning an hourly wage of $30.87, $2.32 lower than mechanics and technicians in the same year. Jet mechanics earn more than avionics mechanics. Entrants into the field can expect to earn more than all mechanics and technicians by graduating from an FAA-approved aviation maintenance school.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Aircraft, Avionic and Airplane Technicians and Mechanics Certifications
Mechanics and technicians are required to be licensed aircraft maintenance technicians. They must receive a certification from the FAA. To apply for an A&P certificate, mechanics and technicians need over one year experience in the field and at least two years working with engines. They must attend an FAA-approved maintenance school. They must pass the FAA’s Designated Mechanic Examiner, the practical, oral, and written portions of the test. Mechanics and technicians must complete an additional sixteen hours of on-the-job training to keep their certificates. Avionics technicians must also be certified through the FAA in repair of airframe equipment. They are only required to have this certificate if they don’t have experience in repair.
Aircraft, Avionic and Airplane Technicians and Mechanics Professional Associations
Mechanics and technicians may join The Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (PAMA). PAMA fosters professional development in the field by providing educational resources and certification for the Aviation Maintenance Technician program. Regular members are part of the airframe mechanics and avionics technicians group; they can join for $49. An individual may join as an Associate Member for $49. Students in the field may join for $20 per year, provided they are enrolled in an FAA-approved school. They may join as apprentice technicians. Corporate institutions may join for $650 per year. Education members may join for $99 per year. Membership benefits include the newsletter, the journal, an online blog, membership in a local chapter, seminars and conferences, and networking opportunities. Mechanics and technicians with an FAA certificate may take advantage of the PAMA Legal Services Plan.