Aviation Maintenance

Career Information

Aircraft Technician

Aircraft technicians troubleshoot and repair, and replace and install parts on many different types of aircraft, including jets, propeller-driven airplanes, and helicopters. Some A & P Technicians specialize engines or airframes, but most technicians will be required to work on all aspects of aircraft repair.

Job Tasks:

A & P Technicians inspect engines, landing gear, instruments, pressurized sections, accessories, brakes, valves, pumps, air-conditioning systems, and other parts of the aircraft.  They complete the necessary maintenance and repairs, and record the work they perform.

Lead Technician

Lead Technicians supervise others, as well as perform all duties required of a technician.

Job Tasks:

Lead Technicians supervise repair work and are required to follow procedures and practices, properly utilize shop equipment and tools, ensure that work is performed safely and meets high quality standards, follows the directions given in the required technical data on all aircraft on which maintenance is performed, and properly handle parts during the repair process.

Aircraft Inspector

Aircraft Inspectors are responsible for inspecting aircraft following its manufacture, modification, maintenance, repair or overhaul to ensure that all airplanes are safe to fly.

Job Tasks:

Aircraft inspectors must be knowledgeable about aircraft equipment including radio, radar and instruments, electro-mechanical systems, cabin pressure systems, oxygen equipment and altitude measuring instruments. Inspectors must keep detailed records on all repair orders and inspection findings, and they must have excellent communication skills.

Aircraft Manufacturing

Aircraft manufacturing is primarily engaged in the design, development and manufacture of aircraft, missiles, spacecraft, propulsion, navigation and guidance systems, and other aeronautical systems and their components.

Job Tasks:

Aircraft Manufacturing personnel work in areas such as riveting, metal-processing, and welding. Some employees work in small spaces that require physical mobility to perform their tasks. Many operations include jobs that require frequent lifting or carrying medium to heavy loads.

Aerospace Engineer

Aerospace Engineers design, develop, and test aircraft, spacecraft, and missiles.  Aerospace engineers develop new technologies for use in aviation, defense systems, and space exploration, often specializing in areas such as structural design, guidance, navigation and control, instrumentation and communication, or production methods.

Job Tasks:

Aerospace Engineers often use Computer-aided Design, robotics, and lasers and advanced electronic optics to assist them.  They may also specialize in aerodynamics, thermodynamics, celestial mechanics, propulsion, acoustics, or guidance and control systems.  

Traits Needed

Aptitudes:

Be able to research information, have effective written and verbal communication skills, have basic math skills, apply logical and mechanical reasoning, be able to problem solve, and work in a team environment.

Interests:

Enjoy aircraft and the aviation industry, and have a mechanical aptitude.

Temperament:

Enjoy aircraft and the aviation industry, and have a mechanical aptitude.

Career and Salary Options:

* The U.S. Education Department now requires institutions to provide Gainful Employment information to prospective students that provide consumer information on program costs, student debt and completion. The above Career & Program information will provide a comparison between similar programs at different institutions.

Working Conditions

Depending upon the type of work they do, aircraft mechanics and repairman work in hangars, on the flight line, or in repair shops. They use hand and power tools as well as sophisticated test equipment.  Noise levels are high, and flight line mechanics often work outdoors in inclement weather.  Sometimes the work requires physical demands that can be arduous. Aircraft maintenance technicians often work under pressure to maintain flight schedules or minimize inconvenience to customers, but a technician must not sacrifice high standards of workmanship in the process. 

Physical Demands

A & P's will use ladders and scaffoldings, and should not be afraid of heights.  Crawling, stooping, reaching,  climbing and lifting to 70 lbs or more is common.  Hazardous materials may be handled.

Job Outlook

The long-term employment outlook is very good.  There is a current shortage of aviation maintenance technicians, largely due to the considerable attrition of retiring personnel, and to growth in the industry.  Employment projections emphasize that well-trained, licensed individuals with a strong background in technical subjects will have little trouble finding work in the aviation industry.