Every day over 100,000 flights carries passengers to where they want to go, all over the world. That’s a lot of planes in the sky transporting precious cargo. Keeping those planes safe structurally and mechanically is a serious job. These hulking marvels of modern engineering aren’t as easy to fix and repair as a car. Paying attention to the little details is imperative to maintaining these complex machines. The job of an aircraft mechanic is not easy and it takes a true dedication to keep us safe when we fly.
Airplane mechanics keep aircraft working correctly–repairing mechanical, inspecting structural design, performing maintenance, replacing parts, and measuring and assessing part wear. Mechanics often spend their time repairing engines, pumps, brakes, and landing gear on a variety of aircraft. Airplane mechanics will also inspect airplanes, helicopters, jets and propellor-driven aircraft–to ensure they’re functioning properly and will be safe for flight.
Maintaining aircraft standards set by regulators such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is expected of all airplane mechanics. Knowledge of a variety of diagnostics tools are all duties of the job. Aircraft mechanics should understand the use of computers, diagnostic devices, and hand and mechanical tools that are needed to assess and fix aircraft. This job requires lot’s of movement–using ladders to work at various heights and at times even accessing tight spaces.
No matter the specialty–specific types of aircraft or a variety, airplane mechanics are needed worldwide.
Qualifications & Experience
The requirements to become an aircraft mechanic are naturally rigid. Working on multi-million dollar machines that fly human cargo from place to place means that regulation is heavy in this industry. The FAA or Federal Aviation Administration requires that any person who wishes to become an airplane mechanic pass a battery of tests and applications prior to entering the field. This weeds out a lot of workers who otherwise shouldn’t be repairing passenger airplanes.
Graduating from an FAA-approved aviation maintenance technician school is typically the beginning point for many potential candidates. A 14-month program in Aviation Maintenance Technology prepares students for their future jobs. Taking place over 2,000 clock hours–students will focus on general airplane maintenance, the airframe of the vehicle, and the powerplant portion that runs the controls and powers the plane. Once finished with the program, students are ready for jobs in this lucrative field after passing written, practical, and oral exams.
Alternatively, future aircraft mechanics can acquire 18 months of on the job experience working with either airframes or power plants. Substituting 30 months of on the job experience working on both airframes and powerplants may also satisfy certification requirements once the written, practical, and oral exams have been passed.
The skills need to be an extraordinary aircraft mechanic are a knack for diagnosing technical issues, solid critical thinking, and problem-solving, patience, and attention to detail.
Aircraft mechanics can be quite the commodity and can garner high demand in the market. Quality and talented mechanics are hard to come by and most companies will pay for the top. Typical salaries for an airplane mechanic range from $50,000 to $60,000 dependent on the company you work for and the position that you hold. Experience on the job is key to growth and success in this industry. The more time you put in, the more senior you become, the more money that you make.
Airplane mechanics are surrounded by multi-ton vehicles just looking for something to smash. These brave men and women are on the front lines making sure that you get from Point A to Point B safely and securely. We don’t often think of these unsung heroes but next time you’re on an airplane–thank the airplane mechanic for their hard work.