What Does an Aircraft Mechanic Do?
If you’re fascinated by planes, here’s a job that will help you understand what makes flying possible. Aircraft mechanics or aircraft maintenance technicians keep aircraft flying safely by performing scheduled maintenance and repairs. They follow detailed Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines. They identify problems, replace parts and do maintenance on various aircraft parts.
Many mechanics — also called airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanics — are generalists. These certified mechanics repair many types of aircraft, from commercial airliners to private business jets to single- or multi-engine propeller-driven planes. Others are specialists who focus on a specific type of aircraft or a specific part. For example, avionics technicians repair and maintain a plane’s electronic instruments.
- Diagnose problems with mechanical and electrical systems
- Repair systems and specific parts, like brakes
- Replace defective parts
- Inspect all aircraft components, including de-icing systems, hydraulic systems and landing gear
- Follow FAA and other safety rules
- Read maintenance manuals
- Order supplies and equipment for repairs and maintenance
- Keep detailed records
Mechanics must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or equivalent. Students who want to be aircraft mechanics must attend an FAA-approved aviation maintenance technician school. These skills can also be learned on the job or through military training in aviation maintenance, which is recognized by the FAA.
Aircraft mechanics must have 30 months of experience to qualify for A&P certification, which is required to work independently. (Airframe or A covers non-engine related mechanical, structural and skin-related components of aircraft maintenance; powerplant or P covers engine work.) About 18 months are needed to get either A or P certification. Many mechanics get both certifications. This requires passing written, oral and practical exams.
On-the-job training must be through an FAA Certified Repair Station under the direct supervision of a certified mechanic.
Avionics technicians typically earn an associate degree.
- Are detail-oriented
- Have good hand-eye coordination
- Have excellent troubleshooting skills
- Are physically strong enough to lift heavy equipment
- Have good dexterity and excel in the use of power tools
- Have good balance to work on ladders or scaffolding