Aircraft Maintenance Technician Career Facts
Beginning Fall 2013 Semester, the Aviation Maintenance Program will be relocating to LCC's Mason Jewett Field Hangar. This move will affect all Aviation Maintenance faculty, staff and students majoring in any Aviation Maintenance program.
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What is an Aircraft Maintenance Technician?
An individual who holds a mechanic certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration Aircraft Maintenance Technicians (AMT's) inspects, performs, or supervises maintenance, preventive maintenance, and alteration of aircraft and aircraft systems. In the US, aircraft maintenance technicians usually refer to themselves as A&Ps, for airframe and powerplant mechanics.
Aircraft mechanics specialize in preventive maintenance. They inspect aircraft engines, landing gear, instruments, pressurized sections, accessories-brakes, valves, pumps, and air-conditioning systems, for example-and other parts of the aircraft, and do the necessary maintenance and replacement of parts. They also keep records related to the maintenance performed on the aircraft.
Mechanics and technicians conduct inspections following a schedule based on the number of hours the aircraft has flown, calendar days since the last inspection, cycles of operation, or a combination of these factors. In large, sophisticated planes equipped with aircraft monitoring systems, mechanics can gather valuable diagnostic information from electronic boxes and consoles that monitor the aircraft's basic operations. In planes of all sorts, aircraft mechanics examine engines by working through specially designed openings while standing on ladders or scaffolds or by using 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 tear, along with the use of x-ray and magnetic inspection equipment to check for invisible cracks. They repair or replace worn or defective parts.
Mechanics also may 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.
What type of training / education is required?
To become a Certified Aircraft Mechanic (A&P) you attend a Part 147 school licensed by the FAA and complete the mechanical program specifically designed for A&P's. In the United States licensed schools are required to offer students at least 1,900 class hours, and the coursework generally takes between 18 months and two years to complete. There are 170 Aviation Maintenance Technician schools certified by the FAA in the United States. These courses include electronics; chemistry, computer science, physics, and mechanical drawings, all of which can help students understand the principles involved in operating and maintaining aircraft. Students are trained with the same equipment and tools as professional aircraft mechanics, and learn new technologies such as composite materials, aviation electronics, and turbine engines. Upon completion of the full course you are required to take all tests required by the FAA to receive all related certificates.
Where are A&P's employed?
The scheduled airlines employ approximately 50,000 mechanics at various terminals and overhaul bases located throughout the U.S.A. and overseas. The major overhaul facilities are located in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Denver, Atlanta, Kansas City, Tulsa, and Minneapolis. In addition, approximately 85,000 A&P licensed mechanics are employed in general aviation for air taxi and fixed base operators, aerial applicators, flight training schools, supplemental airlines, corporations owning fleets of aircraft and aircraft manufacturers. Also, mechanics and technicians are employed at some 4,000 FAA certified repair stations in the U.S.A. Another large employer is the U.S. Government which employs approximately 100,000 civilian air-craft certificated mechanics and avionics technicians to work on military aircraft at Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force installations in the U.S. and overseas. In addition, FAA employs approximately 150 maintenance personnel who work at various locations in the U.S. and overseas. A majority of these persons work at the FAA's main overhaul base located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
What is the average salary?
Aircraft mechanics generally work 40 hours a week on eight-hour shifts around the clock, and overtime work is common. The basic airline mechanic's starting wage is dependent on the size of the company, location in the United States or other part of the world, experience, and type of craft worked. There are also increases in salary for longevity, licenses held, line work, or shift work.
A lead airline mechanic with an A&P certificate and 10 years experience can expect to make in excess of $73,000 per year when salaried or $45.00 per hour in hourly positions. As a licensed A&P mechanic starting out, you can expect to make around $25,000-40,000 yearly.
What skills are required?
Aircraft mechanics need to have mechanical aptitude and be able to perform thorough and precise work. It is important for aircraft mechanics to be able to perform physical tasks that require some strength and agility. As with most Mechanic careers, attention to detail will take your career to the next level. Other skills important for potential aircraft mechanics are the ability to problem solve, work in teams and the willingness to keep up with new technology.
What is the employment outlook for licensed A&P's?
In general, prospects are best for applicants with experience and an A&P certification. Mechanics who keep abreast of technological advances in electronics, composite materials, and other areas will be in greatest demand.
Employment is expected to increase by 7 percent during the 2010-18 period, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. Passenger air traffic is expected to increase as the result of an expanding economy and a growing population, and the need for aircraft mechanics and service technicians will grow accordingly.
Transportation Maintenance Technologies
West Campus, Room M103
Phone: (517) 267-6406
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