WHAT IS AN AIRFRAME TECHNICIAN?
Airframe technicians run thorough inspections of aircraft frames, mechanical components and electrical systems to locate wear, defects and other problems. They read documentation and other repair manuals to determine standards and procedures, and test aircraft functions using diagnostic instruments to ensure those standards are being met. They then repair or replace components using hand or power tools and may order additional supplies. Meticulous records of all activities are needed, which can then be presented to managers or inspectors when requested.
WHAT IS A POWERPLANT MECHANIC?
Powerplant mechanics are responsible for maintaining and repairing turbine engines and propellers. Duties may include disassembling engines and inspecting parts, using hoists or forklifts to remove or install aircraft engines, and testing the operation of engines and other systems. Additionally, powerplant mechanics may use diagnostic equipment such as ignition analyzers, compression checkers or ammeters.
WHAT IS AN A&P MECHANIC?
Also known as an aircraft maintenance technician, an A&P mechanic refers to an individual who holds an Airframe and/or Powerplant (A&P) certificate which is issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). An A&P license qualifies you as a general mechanic to work on aircraft. A&P mechanics repair and maintain airplane engines, landing gear and just about everything except the flight instruments. That kind of work requires additional certification as an avionics technician, another program of study offered by the Alabama Aviation College.
An eye for detail is essential to this job. While you will have diagnostic tools to assist you, it will still be your job as a mechanic to make the call on whether equipment is up to the required standard.
If you’re a technical person, it will go a long way in this role. You don’t need to be advanced in technical knowledge. You’ll learn as you train.
As an aircraft mechanic you’ll have to work with your hands, meaning you will need to be a dexterous person. If you don’t like occasionally getting your hands dirty, this may not be the path for you.
TROUBLESHOOTING (& PATIENCE)
As a mechanic, it is essential that you are able to work out what is causing problems with certain equipment. This requires patience, common sense, and sometimes, thinking outside of the box.
What types of
jobs can I get?
A&P licensing is the baseline requirement for work as a general mechanic who services all types of aircraft, including jets and helicopters. Some mechanics specialize in a particular type of aircraft and a particular section, such as the electrical or hydraulic systems, the engine, brakes and landing gear.
What type of work
do the jobs consist of?
General A&P mechanics work includes using X-rays or ultrasonic inspection equipment to detect cracks, corrosion and other problems not visible to the eye. Repair work is also done on the aircraft’s framework and skin, which is made up of materials that range from fabric, wood and metal to composite materials. After repairs are completed, equipment is tested before being put back into service.
Mechanics must take and pass three written FAA exams, an oral exam and a practical test to get an A&P license. In order to qualify for the licensing process, mechanics must be at least 18 years old and have 18 months of experience working on power plants or airframes, or 30 months of experience working on both. As an alternative to experience, applicants can provide proof that they have graduated from an FAA-approved technical school, such as the Alabama Aviation College.
What’s the career
The median annual wage of aircraft mechanics was $61,020 in May 2017. The lowest 10 percent of aircraft mechanics earned less than $36,030 and the top 10 percent earned more than $92,080. Employment opportunities for aviation maintenance professionals has never been greater.1 According to the Boeing Company’s 2017 Pilot and Technician Outlook, 648,000 new technicians will be needed by year 2036.2
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1 Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians.
2 Source: Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners, defense, space and security systems, and service provider of aftermarket support.