Aircraft Mechanic Career Info

Aircraft mechanics are specialists in aviation engineering. They are the people who make the planes, repair them and keep them running safely. Their work extends through many different parts of the aviation industry.

Types of Aircraft Mechanic

  • Airframe mechanics: These mechanics work on the structural issues of aircraft. They work on all parts of the plane, except the engines, instruments and related systems.
  • Power plant mechanics: This work involves handling the engine power plants, like the big jet engine power plants.
  • Avionics technicians: Avionics systems are the plane's instruments. These include the computer and navigational systems, communications, operating systems like gauges, altimeters, and other essential systems.
  • Combination airframe and power plant mechanics: The people doing these jobs are called A&P mechanics. They cover both fields of work. This "hybrid" form of job is often an efficient job design, improving service quality and making best use of skilled mechanics.

Environment

The physical workplace is usually a hangar, equipped with the required machinery and systems to handle the types of aircraft being serviced. In some cases aircraft are serviced outdoors. Working outside involves bringing equipment and personnel on to operational space, in any sort of weather. Emergency repairs may be conducted outside, in cases when a plane is disabled or immobilized on the field, but most modern aircraft usually require intensive maintenance in a workshop environment.

External and internal work may include accessing system housings, or actually getting in to the air frame to deal with maintenance and repair issues. Avionics technicians may have to disassemble systems on-site or replace them. Working with major structural components such as wings or the tail assembly can involve literally taking parts of the plane apart and putting them back together, one piece at a time. This work may require checking each piece for structural integrity and mechanical systems for proper operation.

Training and Education

Aircraft mechanics are very highly trained experts in their fields.  You really need to be an expert to work with new aviation technology, which in some cases even uses different materials, as well as different systems, compared to earlier models of plane. Ongoing training and education is a natural part of the aircraft mechanic's work environment.

Career outlook

The wages are hourly rates that range from $15 to $35 per hour, depending on employer, level of experience, qualifications and certifications. The hours are usually worked in shifts, but often on a needs basis. Aircraft mechanics work in a very unusual industry because although their skills give them very high degrees of job mobility, the industry itself is variable in terms of employment and career opportunities.

Aircraft mechanics use the industry's movements to their advantage as much as possible, and many work around the world in various capacities, like working as outsourced maintenance workers with contracts in other countries. Some aircraft mechanics can also operate as consultants and specialists, working for themselves through industry contacts and networking.