Exploring career opportunities and discovering new employment possibilities!
Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Service Technicians  
  Nature of Work
Job Outlook
Job Index A-Z
Aircraft and Avionics Mechanics and Service Technicians

Nature 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.

Many 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.

They 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.

Other 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.

Some 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.

Airframe 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.

Avionics 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.

Work environment. 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.

Frequently, 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.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
1 2 3 4 5
Links on this web page are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
Related Occupations
Automotive service technicians and mechanics
Electrical and electronics installers and repairers

Elevator installers and repairers