Aircraft mechanics, also known as avionics technicians, power plant mechanics or airframe mechanics, are responsible for repairing and inspecting airplanes for the military, private companies and commercial airlines. Some mechanics specialize in a particular system, such as engines, landing gear or hydraulic equipment, but all aircraft mechanics have knowledge of different airplane parts.
The tasks of an aircraft mechanic vary between specializations, but they are generally trained in assembling and installing components and accessories of airplanes; checking wings, tail and fuselage for distortion, corrosion or cracks; cleaning and changing oil; conducting routine and other inspections; disassembling engines and inspecting engine parts; examining aircraft components; painting aircraft surfaces; inspecting and repairing fuel tanks; trimming and shaping replacement body sections; making in-flight adjustments; curing bonded structures; inspecting airframes of defects; and inspecting completed parts or aircraft to ensure they meet standards.
Other duties of an aircraft mechanic include installing and realigning replacement parts; diagnosing malfunctions of engines; listening to operating engines to look for malfunctions; obtaining oil and fuel samples; maintaining repair logs and other documents; creating inventories of supplies, materials, equipments or supplies; and reading and interpreting maintenance manuals and other technical documents.
Education and Training Requirements
Traditionally, aircraft mechanics must obtain a high school diploma and complete 18 months of practical experience. Those who have completed an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in aviation maintenance management, avionics or aviation technology can immediately take license exams after finishing the course. There are two types of government licenses of aircraft mechanics – the A license (to work on airplane bodies) and the P license (for engines). Mechanics can obtain both types of license after obtaining 30 months of practical experience and passing an oral, written and practical test.
Knowledge and Skills Requirements
To become successful in this field, one must be highly knowledgeable in mathematics, chemistry, physics, industrial drafting, machine shop, welding and aircraft mechanics. He/she must also have excellent communication skills and technical knowledge of airplanes to understand diagrams, blueprints, and instruction manuals. Aircraft mechanics must also be detail-oriented, be physically fit and have good hearing and eyesight.
Aircraft mechanics work 40 hours per week in 8-hour shifts. Entry-level mechanics usually work on night shifts, while senior-level mechanics have flexible schedules. The job of an aircraft mechanic is often stressful, since they need to diagnose and repair mechanical problems quickly to keep passengers safe and maintain flight schedules. They may work even under unpleasant weather and lift or pull heavy objects throughout the job.
The average salary for aircraft mechanic jobs is $43,000, with the lower 10% receiving $28,000 per year and the top 10% earning $53,000 annually.