How to Become an Aircraft Mechanic

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With the thousands of aircrafts that take off and land every day, trained professionals are required to keep each and every aircraft in the best operating condition to ensure the safety of all passengers and crew. Aircraft mechanics perform routine maintenance and required repairs. They also complete the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mandatory inspections.

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What does an aircraft mechanic do?

Aircraft mechanics are mechanics that specialize in the maintenance and repair of aircraft. Many focus on preventative maintenance by inspecting the engines, instruments, landing gear, pressurized areas, accessories (breaks, air-conditioning, pumps, valves, etc.), and other parts of the aircraft. They perform the necessary repairs and replace parts as needed. They keep maintenance records on all aircraft. Mechanics typically carry out inspections according to a schedule that is based on the amount of hours the aircraft has been in flight, the number of days since the last inspection, operation cycles, or a combination of these issues. Some aircraft mechanics focus on repairs and identify and fix the problems described by pilots. All aircraft mechanics work as quickly as safely possible to get the aircraft back in service on a timely basis.

What kind of training does an aircraft mechanic need?

Most aircraft mechanics complete training through FAA certified schools. Some schools offer 2 year and 4 year degrees in avionics, aviation maintenance management, and aviation technology. All FAA certified programs offer at least 1,900 class hours in a variety of subjects for students to learn all the essential skills for the job. Aircraft mechanics must have a strong background in electronics and they must constantly improve their skills and knowledge and stay up to date on technological advances in the field.

Aircraft mechanics can become certified in airframes or power plants by passing a FAA certification examination. To keep their certifications current, they must complete 16 hours of training every 24 months.

What are the prospects for a career as an aircraft mechanic?

Employment for aircraft mechanics is projected to grow as fast as average for all professions, increasing 10% from 2006 to 2016 (1). An increasing population, passenger traffic and the expanding economy will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be favorable especially for people who have completed a formal training program. Keen competition is expected for those seeking employment with major airlines. Job openings will arise from the need to replace aircraft mechanics that retire or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do aircraft mechanics make?

As of July 2009, the middle 50% of aircraft mechanics earned annual salaries between $65,484 and $85,079. The highest 10% earned annual salaries of more than $93,628 (2).

A career as an aircraft mechanic is a great choice for people with great interest in aircraft function and operation. Aircraft mechanics must have a high level of mechanical ability and be self-motivated, enthusiastic, hard working, and be able to identify and resolve complex mechanical issues.

Joshua T Osborne

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