Exploring Manufacturing CareersAircraft Mechanic

In our educational series, we explore different careers in manufacturing.

Nowadays, transportation through flying has been very common, whether for vacation or business purposes, for both civilians and the military people. To keep the airplanes and helicopters airborne and working properly, we need aircraft mechanics. Using a variety of diagnostic devices, aircraft mechanics and service technicians diagnose, adjust, repair, or overhaul aircraft engines and assemblies, such as hydraulic and pneumatic systems, through hand, mechanical and power tools, and computers as well as maintain aircraft standards as required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Aside from visual inspection of replacement aircraft parts, aircraft mechanics should easily identify and diagnose mechanical or electrical problems based on maintenance manuals. They also keep records of maintenance and repair work of an aircraft, including the engines, landing gear, brakes, and air conditioning systems.

Today's airplanes are highly complex vehicles that require reliable parts and service to fly safely and securely. With people’s lives on the line, it is very important for aircraft mechanics to keep an airplane in its peak operating condition through scheduled maintenance, complete inspections, and timely repairs. Maintenance schedules for aircraft usually takes place based from hours flown, trips flown, days since the last inspection, or a combination of these factors. To complete maintenance, aircraft mechanics use precision instruments to measure wear and identify defects. They could use magnetic or ultrasonic inspection equipment and x-rays to discover cracks that are invisible on a plane's exterior. They check for corrosion and distortion in the aircraft's main body, wings, and tail, and then repair the metal, fabric, wood, or composite materials that make up the airframe and skin.

Why Become an Aircraft Mechanic

In general, job opportunities would be better for aircraft mechanics with Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) certificate and knowledgeable about the most innovative technologies and composite materials as well as those who are well acquainted with computers and digital systems. Competition will definitely be strong so troubleshooting and technical skills would be an advantage for job hunters. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the growth projection for the employment of aircraft mechanics and service technicians would show minor change from 2012 to 2022. Although the air traffic would gradually increase for the next decade, companies expect incoming aircrafts to require less maintenance compared to existing aircrafts. Salary reports indicate that the mean annual wage for aircraft mechanics and service technicians would be roughly $52,480 as of March 2014.

Aircraft Mechanic Work Environment

Aircraft mechanics and service technicians usually work in climate-controlled hangars and shops, near major airports, in repair stations, on airfields or military installations. Majority works for private companies, while around 14 percent serves the federal government. They must often meet strict deadlines to maintain flight schedules that meet safety standards. The environment could be loud because of aircraft engines and equipment so they should wear personal protective gears at all times. It is very common for workers to bend, stoop, and reach from ladders and scaffolds for this type of occupation with possible exposure to hot and cold temperatures. Most aircraft mechanics and service technicians work full time on rotating eight-hour shifts, with frequent overtime and weekend work.

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