Avionics technicians are responsible for inspecting and testing the complex electrical and computer systems that allow aircraft to function. Technicians inspect, test, and repair the electronic components of communication, navigation, and flight control systems of aircraft, spacecraft, and missiles. They oversee an airplane's radar system, radio communications equipment and the flight controls. Avionics technicians ensure that these systems are functioning properly before a plane or helicopter takes off. When a problem is found, avionics technicians must repair it before the aircraft can be cleared for takeoff. Avionics technicians also assemble and install electrical components, and keep detailed written records of repair work performed on aircraft.
The Avionic Technician is very important to the communication system of airplanes and space vehicles. The Avionic Technician works with the engineers to develop and install new electronic systems. The Avionic Technician must calibrate the electronic systems to make sure that the aircraft works properly without any problems while in operation. That is why they often accompany the crew of the aircraft when it is taken out so that they can make sure that the calibrations made on the ground are working in mid-air. If this does not work then the Avionic Technician may work at a ground station to determine what the problem maybe. Since the Avionic Technician is initially working from blueprints provided to him by the engineers they first must assume that the initial installation is not correctly installed. Afterwards the Avionic Technician then looks into the blueprints to determine if they could be at fault returning them to the engineers for review and corrections.
Education and Preparation
Some avionics technicians learn their trade while in the military, but most attend 18- to 24-month programs at aviation maintenance technician schools approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA. Technicians may also pursue associate or bachelor's degrees in avionics or aviation technology. The FAA requires all avionics technicians to be licensed, and those who perform maintenance or repairs on aircraft communication systems must be licensed as restricted radio-telephone operators by the Federal Communications Commission.
The Avionic Technician must be capable of using hand held tools and instruments such as oscilloscopes and other electronic equipment. They must also be able to work with computerized guidance and flight-control equipment. Many Avionic Technicians are required to read blueprints that are found on the computer or created by the engineer on specialized computer programs. The Avionic Technician must be capable of making detailed reports on the type of repairs they make and the replacement pieces used.
Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians earned a median annual salary of $60,230 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians earned a 25th percentile salary of $48,370, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $73,680, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 149,500 people were employed in the U.S. as aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians.