How to Become an Aircraft Mechanic? 

Guides · 7 min read · Jul 13, 2022

Working with airplanes for some of us is a dream come true. Especially as aircraft mechanics, people have the opportunity to work on some of the most astounding engineering marvels ever produced and get to know them from nose to tail. If you become an aircraft mechanic yourself, people will come to you for stories, and new people you meet will be impressed when you tell them what you do for a living. This article will help our readers in getting the answer of how to become an aircraft mechanic.

Job role of an aircraft mechanic

Aircraft mechanics provide maintenance and repair services for flying machines such as helicopters and airplanes. They ensure that all aircraft equipment is airworthy and meet operational and safety standards. Aircraft mechanics can also work as aerial maintenance technicians or aviation maintenance technicians.

So, let’s take a closer look at what are the typical responsibilities of an airplane mechanic:

The interior of an aircraft in the building process.

Assessing the aircraft systems

An inspection necessitates a thorough examination of an aircraft’s interior and exterior components. Aircraft maintenance technicians perform routine checks to detect problems and ensure that an aircraft is ready for takeoff.

Detecting operational issues

Undertaking tests to determine the root of the issue is an important part of an airplane mechanic’s job. They may conduct diagnostics on electrical systems, engines, safety devices, and all other vital parts of an airplane.

Measuring aircraft parts

Aircraft mechanics constantly measure aircraft components in order to detect minute amounts of wear and corrosion over time. They use gauges and other laboratory equipment to accomplish this.

Aircraft technicians learn about specific equipment and part specifications by reading blueprints and analyzing instruction manuals. They decipher instruction manuals to locate airplane parts, correctly diagnose problems, and order the correct replacement parts.

Repairing damaged items

When anything on breaks or sustains damage on an airplane, aviation mechanics either repair the item or disassemble the damaged item and replace it. Amending the aircraft’s airframe and cabin components usually calls for an airplane to be stationed and worked on in an MRO hangar in bigger airports.

Cleaning aircraft components

Cleaning mechanical components improves continuous aircraft maintenance by retaining their aircraft’s appearance and cabin tidy. They clean mechanical parts to keep the aircraft in fine condition and to prevent damage through rusting, corrosion, or chemical accumulation.

Maintaining service records

Aircraft mechanics must document all maintenance procedures, repairs, and upgrades. They keep track of everything they do, the dates each repair is completed, and the effects their efforts have on the aircraft’s operation. Maintaining detailed records is critical for adhering to industry regulations and ensuring the safety of passengers on flights.

What makes a mechanic distinguishable from an aircraft maintenance technician?

There is no distinction between them whether they are referred to as AMEs or AMTs. In reality, those who maintain airplanes go by various names, such as:

  • Aircraft Mechanic
  • Aircraft Technician
  • Aviation Engineer
  • Airframe and Powerplant Technician
  • A&P Mechanic
  • Aircraft Maintenance Technician
  • Aircraft Maintenance Engineer
  • Aviation Maintenance Technical Engineer
  • Aviation Maintenance Technician and Aviation Maintenance Engineer

Those who argue about the differences are commonly from other countries or work at other airports. Due to their similarity, workers in various countries and airports may be referred to by any of these names. Because the aviation industry is not ruled by a centralized organization, their names vary greatly. Each country has its own aviation authority or organization whose regulations must be followed.

An aircraft mechanic inspecting the engine and wing of an aircraft at an airport.

General requirements for becoming an aircraft mechanic

These are several requirements you must meet in order to obtain your certificate as an aviation mechanic.

  1. It is necessary to be at least 18 years old.
  2. You must be able to communicate, read, write, and understand English.
  3. You must have at least 18 months of hands-on experience working on either airframes or engines, or 30 months of experience working on both at the same time. If you lack or are unable to obtain this practical experience, you can enroll in an FAA-approved aviation maintenance school. Your training will include working on things such as: aircraft engines, flight control systems, hydraulics, fuel systems, electrical system, aircraft instruments, navigational equipment, radios and, communication equipment.
  4. Tests that you must pass.
  5. A written examination or an oral examination.
  6. A practice exam.

Road map on how to become an aircraft mechanic

Acquiring work experience as a civilian

Enroll in a university or other educational institution. In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration has authorized 170 aviation maintenance schools. Most courses last 12 to 24 months and result in either a high school diploma or a GED. Following graduation, students will be eligible to take the FAA certification exams. Graduates typically earn more than apprentices or those who have served in the military. Without an FAA mechanic’s license, one can still work on avionics equipment with some restrictions. For each certificate category, such as power plants or airframes, a person must have 18 months of relevant on-the-job experience, or 30 months total to earn both certifications.

Only individuals with an FAA mechanic’s certificate who are directly overseeing trainees are permitted to work with them. Candidates must present identification documentation, pay stubs, and present an employment letter before taking the FAA examinations. The applicant cannot be given permission for the return to duty of any components, aircraft, engines, or any safety equipment. This must be attested to by a license holder. An intern can only do fundamental mechanical tasks without a license and cannot advance to more senior roles within the company.

Acquiring work experience through armed forces

Only military experience in one of the Federal Aviation Administration’s recognized departments of work will be deemed toward certification (FAA). Your local Flight Standards District Office can provide you with a list of these aircraft mechanic jobs, but keep in mind that they are subject to change constantly.

The military has distinct sets of occupational codes for each department. You will obtain a document from your manager outlining the types of aircraft and powerplant you worked on, the amount of hours of on the job training you finished, and more when you leave the service. The quantity of operational experience necessary only includes hours spent actually working.

Obtaining aircraft mechanic certification

After completing the required on the job training, you must pass three examinations administered by the Federal Aviation Administration. A Designated Mechanic Examiner will supervise your practical test. Furthermore, the examiner will administer an oral exam in which you must respond to all questions in person. To pass these exams, you must be knowledgeable about 43 different technological subjects. For a specific certificate exam in either the airframe or the power plant, you can expect the exam to last around 8 hours.

If the FAA inspector determines that you are qualified to take the written examination, you can schedule your exam at one of the authorized computer testing facilities. The majority of major cities in the United States have testing facilities. If you fail any portion of the test, you must wait at least 30 days before retaking it. If you can show that you’ve received additional training in the subject you missed, the 30-day waiting period may be waived. You must pass each section of the written test within 24 months of your first attempt.

Licenses and certifications

You can submit an application with either an airframe rating, a power plant rating, or even both. You must adhere to a few fundamental requirements if you wish to work as an airplane mechanic in the US and are a US citizen. To operate as an aviation mechanic, you must possess a mechanic’s certificate. If you are not a citizen of the United States, you must get a mechanic’s license in accordance with the Federal Aviation Administration regulations. 

Types of licenses you need to become an aircraft mechanic

The Federal Aviation Administration FAA also provides repairman certifications, which limit the holder to certain activities like fixing a particular kind of engine or engine component or perform maintenance on a particular type of aircraft. The work is done for commercial operator, FAA-approved repair shops, or air carriers with this sort of work authorization.

Airframe mechanics 

The airframe mechanic is qualified to work on anything but avionics, engines, and propellers. They concentrate on inspecting the aircraft’s structure for cracks and corrosion and repairing any worn-out or damaged components.

Powerplant mechanics 

Powerplant mechanics specialize in everything related to aircraft engines, their parts, and operations.

Avionics technicians

Avionics technicians are experts who service and repair an aircraft’s electronic tools, including radar systems, navigation systems, and radio communications systems. The upkeep of computer systems takes more time as digital technology is becoming more complex.

Airframe and powerplant technicians

An A&P mechanic, also referred as an aircraft maintenance technician, is someone who has a Federal Aviation Administration Airframe and Powerplant A&P certificate. With this license, you can work as a general mechanic on airplanes. They possess troubleshooting skills and dexterity to perform routine maintenance, aircraft inspections, major repairs, and may work at repair station for heavy equipment.

An aircraft stationed in an MRO hangar waiting for an engine inspection.

Future Job Growth of AMT

Between 2020 and 2030, the overall employment of mechanics and technicians for aircraft and avionics equipment is predicted to increase by 11%, faster than the national median. Over the next ten years, there are expected to be, on average, 14,400 opportunities for mechanics and technicians of aircraft and avionics equipment.

FAQs

How long does it take to become a plane mechanic?

It is necessary to have at least 18 months of hands-on experience in working with airframes or power plants. 30 months of concurrent practical learning job experience in both are required. As a substitute for the training, you can obtain FAA certification by enrolling in an aviation maintenance technician school.

Is it hard to become an aircraft mechanic?

Anything appears difficult before being mastered. Aviation mechanics typically receive two to four years of training. This is because employment as an aviation mechanic requires an associate’s degree. However, some employers may prefer a bachelor’s degree in aviation maintenance technology. Furthermore, earning a degree will reduce your overall need for practical experience.

Is it worth becoming an aircraft mechanic?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2020, the average annual earnings for mechanics and technicians of aviation and avionics equipment was approximately $67,000. The lowest-earning 10% of workers in the industry made less than $40,000, and the top 10% earned more than six figures. As an aviation mechanic, you’ll have access to some of the most remarkable machines ever created and be fully acquainted with them.

What are the requirements to be an aircraft mechanic?

To become a Certified A&P Mechanic, you must be at least 18 years old. Learn to read, write, and speak English. Either take an FAA-approved AMT course or have 30 months of aircraft and power plant repair experience. Finally, you must pass a written, oral, and practical exam.

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Eglė Bartaševičiūtė
A passionate traveler and an avid aviation enthusiast bringing you the most well-founded, accurate and up-to-date industry content.

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