Learn about an aviation maintenance technician's job description and responsibilities
To keep aircraft in peak operating condition, aviation maintenance technicians and aircraft mechanics
perform scheduled maintenance for each individual aircraft,
troubleshoot problems, make repairs, and complete inspections
required by the Federal
Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA is responsible
for certification, regulation and compliance in assuring aviation
safety. Any person involved in operating or maintaining an
aircraft must hold an FAA certificate.
Aircraft mechanics may work on one or many different types
of aircraft, such as jets, propeller-driven airplanes, and
helicopters. Some mechanics may specialize in one section
of a particular type of aircraft, such as the airframe, engine,
hydraulic, or electrical system. In small repair shops, mechanics
usually work on many types of aircraft. In larger shops, they
are more likely to specialize in a particular area. Avionics
systems are now an integral part of aircraft design and have
vastly increased aircraft capability. As technology advances,
mechanics (authorized to work on electronics and avionics)
spend an increasing amount of time repairing electronic systems,
such as computerized controls. Mechanics also may be required
to analyze and develop solutions to complex electronic problems.
Many aircraft mechanics, also called airframe, powerplant,
or avionics technicians, specialize in preventive maintenance.
They inspect engines (powerplants), landing gear, instruments,
brakes, valves, pumps, and other parts of the aircraft, and
perform the necessary maintenance and replacement of parts.
Inspections may occur after the aircraft has flown a certain
number of hours, a specific number of calendar days since
the last inspection, cycles of operation, or a combination
of these factors. Large, sophisticated planes are equipped
with aircraft monitoring systems, consisting of electronic
boxes and consoles that monitor the aircraft’s basic
operations and provide valuable diagnostic information to
To examine an engine, aircraft mechanics work
through specially designed openings while standing on ladders
or scaffolds, or use 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. Worn or defective parts are repaired or replaced.
Mechanics may also 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 specializing in repair work rely on the pilot’s
description of a problem to find and fix faulty equipment.
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.
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