of the Work: Today's airplanes are highly complex
machines with parts that must function within extreme tolerances
for them to operate safely. To keep aircraft in peak operating condition,
aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and service technicians
perform scheduled maintenance, make repairs, and complete inspections
required by the FAA.
aircraft mechanics specialize in preventive maintenance. They inspect
aircraft engines, landing gear, instruments, pressurized sections,
accessories brakes, valves, pumps, and air-conditioning systems,
for example and other parts of the aircraft, and do the necessary
maintenance and replacement of parts.
also keep records related to the maintenance performed on the aircraft.
Mechanics and technicians conduct inspections following a schedule
based on the number of hours the aircraft has flown, calendar days
since the last inspection, cycles of operation, or a combination
of these factors. In large, sophisticated planes equipped with aircraft
monitoring systems, mechanics can gather valuable diagnostic information
from electronic boxes and consoles that monitor the aircraft's basic
operations. In planes of all sorts, aircraft mechanics examine engines
by working through specially designed openings while standing on
ladders or scaffolds or by using hoists or lifts to remove the entire
engine from the craft. After taking an engine apart, mechanics use
precision instruments to measure parts for wear and use x-ray and
magnetic inspection equipment to check for invisible cracks. They
repair or replace worn or defective parts. Mechanics also may repair
sheet metal or composite surfaces; measure the tension of control
cables; and check for corrosion, distortion, and cracks in the fuselage,
wings, and tail. After completing all repairs, they must test the
equipment to ensure that it works properly.
mechanics specialize in repair work rather than inspection. They
find and fix problems that pilots describe. For example, during
a preflight check, a pilot may discover that the aircraft's fuel
gauge does not work. To solve the problem, mechanics may troubleshoot
the electrical system, using electrical test equipment to make sure
that no wires are broken or shorted out, and replace any defective
electrical or electronic components. Mechanics work as fast as safety
permits so that the aircraft can be put back into service quickly.
mechanics work on one or 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. In small, independent repair shops,
mechanics usually inspect and repair many different types of aircraft.
mechanics are authorized to work on any part of the aircraft except
the instruments, power plants, and propellers. Powerplant mechanics
are authorized to work on engines and do limited work on propellers.
Combination airframe-and-powerplant mechanics called A&P mechanics
work on all parts of the plane except the instruments. Most mechanics
working on civilian aircraft today are A&P mechanics.
systems components used for aircraft navigation and radio communications,
weather radar systems, and other instruments and computers that
control flight, engine, and other primary functions are now an integral
part of aircraft design and have vastly increased aircraft capability.
Avionics technicians repair and maintain these systems. Because
of the increasing use of technology, more time is spent repairing
electronic systems, such as computerized controls. Technicians also
may be required to analyze and develop solutions to electronic problems.
Mechanics work in hangars, repair stations, or out on the airfield
on the flight lines where aircraft park. Mechanics often work under
time pressure to maintain flight schedules or, in general aviation,
to keep from inconveniencing customers. At the same time, mechanics
have a tremendous responsibility to maintain safety standards, and
this can cause the job to be stressful.
mechanics must lift or pull objects weighing more than 70 pounds.
They often stand, lie, or kneel in awkward positions and occasionally
must work in precarious positions, such as on scaffolds or ladders.
Noise and vibration are common when engines are being tested, so
ear protection is necessary. According to BLS data, full-time aircraft
mechanics and service technicians experienced a higher than average
work-related injury and illness rate. Aircraft mechanics usually
work 40 hours a week on 8-hour shifts around the clock. Overtime
and weekend work is frequent.