Aviation maintenance mechanics including airframe and powerplant technicians avionics technicians and instrument repair personnel have the important responsibility of keeping airplanes and their equipment working safely and efficiently They service repair and overhaul various aircraft components and systems including airframes engines electrical and hydraulic systems propellers avionics equipment and aircraft instruments In recent years their work has changed greatly because of advances in computer technology solid state electronics and composite structural material
Aviation maintenance mechanics (including air-frame and powerplant technicians, avionics technicians and instrument repairmen) have the important responsibility of keeping airplanes in a safe condition to fly. In this effort they service, repair, and overhaul various aircraft components and systems including airframes, engines, electrical and hydraulic systems, propellers, avionics equipment, and aircraft instruments. The has changed greatly in recent years and will continue to change rapidly because of advances in computer technology, solid-state electronics, and fiber composite structural material.
Aircraft mechanics employed by the airlines perform either line maintenance work including routine maintenance, servicing, or emergency repairs at airline terminals, or major repairs and periodic inspections at an airline's overhaul base.
Aircraft mechanics in general aviation perform maintenance and repair jobs similar to those performed by airline mechanics, but they may work on small piston-engine or larger turbine- powered aircraft, depending on the type of business the facility specializes in.
An aircraft mechanic maybe licensed or unlicensed. The licensed mechanic may receive from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mechanic Certificate (with an airframe rating, powerplant rating, or rating for both) or a Repairman Certificate. FAA Mechanic Certificates are issued upon successful completion of oral, written, and practical examinations. A mechanic with an airframe, powerplant or airframe and powerplant (A&P) rating can work only on the specific parts of the aircraft for which he or she is rated. Similarly, a mechanic with an FAA Repairman Certificate can work only on those parts of the aircraft that the certificate specifically allows, such as radio or instruments, propellers, etc. The repair person who works on transmitting equipment aboard the aircraft does not need a license from the Federal Communications Commission; however, experts encourage these individuals to take the FCC exam because they may eventually become involved in satellites and satellite communication systems the next logical step.
While a high school diploma is not required to become an apprentice aircraft mechanic, employers give preference to applicants who are high school or vocational school graduates; thus, such a diploma is essential. Mathematics, physics, computer science, chemistry, English, and aerospace education courses are suitable subjects to pursue while in high school, because the aircraft mechanic avionics technician must understand the physical principles involved in the operation of the aircraft and its systems. Also, a high school diploma is normally recommended as a prerequisite for attending a technical school or a college offering A & P training. The aircraft mechanic is expected to continue his or her education, even after hiring, in order to keep abreast of the continuing technical changes and improvements in aircraft and associated systems.
The qualified student who wishes to become an aircraft mechanic can follow one of several paths:
- Students can begin work for an airline or an independent repair station as an apprentice mechanic, learning as one earns. This method of earning an A & P / Repairman's Certificate or the FCC license normally takes longer and earning power remains at a lower rate over a longer period of time.
- Students can take aircraft mechanic courses at one of the many FAA Certificated private or public technical schools. A high school diploma is normally recommended for entrance to these schools, but the period of training is normally shorter than on-the-job-training and earnings upon completion of the course are higher. Also, the graduate of such a course is qualified to take the FAA exams when the course is finished.
- Students can also receive training as an aircraft mechanic while in the military service and, with some additional study, can qualify for a civilian mechanic job when the period of military service is completed.
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 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.
In general aviation, mechanic's salaries are determined largely by the size of the aircraft serviced. Mechanics without an A & P license make considerably less and usually have more difficulty finding work. It is anticipated that wages for general aviation mechanics will increase over the next few years, but will remain lower than the salaries paid by the large airlines.
Paid holidays, vacations, insurance plans, retirement programs, and sick leave are some of the benefits offered by both airline and general aviation employers. Airlines also give their employees free or reduced price transportation to destinations within their route structure and exchange travel privileges with other airlines. General aviation offers more local points of employment.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and the Transport Workers Union of America are the principal unions representing aircraft mechanics, but some mechanics are also represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
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