Aviation Maintenance Technician
Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians repair and perform scheduled maintenance on airplanes and helicopters. They also inspect airplanes and helicopters as required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Today’s airplanes are highly complex machines that require reliable parts and service to fly safely. To keep an airplane in peak operating condition, aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians do scheduled maintenance, make repairs, and complete inspections. Some mechanics work on many different types of aircraft, such as jets, propeller-driven airplanes, and helicopters. Others specialize in one section of a particular type of aircraft, such as the engine, hydraulics, or electrical system of a jet. In small, independent repair shops, mechanics usually inspect and repair many different types of aircraft.
Maintenance mechanics specialize in preventive maintenance and inspect aircraft. Every aircraft must be inspected regularly. The schedule for inspection may be based on hours flown, days since the last inspection, trips flown, or a combination of these factors. Maintenance mechanics inspect aircraft engines, landing gear, instruments, brakes, air conditioning systems, and other parts. They use precision instruments to measure wear and replace worn out parts. In planes equipped with aircraft monitoring systems, mechanics can gather valuable diagnostic information from electronic consoles. After completing all repairs, mechanics must test the equipment to ensure that it works properly. Mechanics also must keep records of all maintenance that they do on an aircraft.
Mechanics and technicians work in hangars, in repair stations, or on airfields. They must often meet strict deadlines to maintain flight schedules. At the same time, they must maintain safety standards, and doing both can cause stress. Most mechanics and technicians work near major airports. Airline mechanics often work outside, on the airfield, while repair and corporate mechanics work in climate-controlled shops. Civilian mechanics employed by the U.S. Armed Forces work on military installations. Mechanics often lift heavy objects, handle dangerous chemicals, or operate large power tools. They frequently stand, lie, or kneel in awkward positions and may work on scaffolds or ladders. Noise and vibrations are common when engines are being tested, so ear protection is necessary. Because airline mechanics work outside, they must often endure hot and cold temperatures. Although their work is not inherently dangerous, aircraft mechanics and service technicians experience rates of injuries and illnesses that are higher than the average across all occupations. Mechanics and technicians usually work full time on rotating 8-hour shifts. Overtime and weekend work is common. Day shifts are usually reserved for mechanics with the most seniority.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of aircraft mechanics and avionics technicians is projected to grow 6 percent between 2010 and 2020, slower than the average for all occupations. Modest employment growth is expected as air travel gradually increases over the coming decade. However, as airlines increasingly outsource maintenance work to other countries, employment growth is expected to be limited.
Career information courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook.