Aviation Maintenance Technician
It's Not Just Mechanics Anymore
Since before the Wright Brothers first powered flight in 1903, humans have been interested in how and why aircraft fly. Although they worked as bicycle builders, the Wright Brothers, were mechanically inclined and able to work with their hands as well as their minds.
It's not just about mechanics anymore. As aircraft technology has become more complex, so has the need increased for highly trained aviation technicians. Today's Aviation Maintenance Technician is trained to maintain, repair, troubleshoot, and inspect the sophisticated aircraft systems now used to fly safely around the world. Today's aircraft are equipped with computers and electronic devices used for flight operations, navigation, emergency systems, communication, engine monitoring, and passenger comfort, to name just a few. These and many other systems are designed to make air travel safer, more efficient, and more comfortable. These systems require that technicians obtain additional training, but they have not replaced the basic education required by the Federal Aviation Administration to obtain an Airframe and Powerplant license. Aviation Maintenance Technicians train for basic mechanics, hydraulics, pneumatics, aircraft structures, composites, engine overhaul, nondestructive testing, electrical systems, landing gear, brakes, oxygen systems, etc.
Aviation maintenance technicians are the unsung heroes behind the scenes; making sure aircraft are operating properly and maintained to perfection, ensuring customers' safe and comfortable departures and arrivals.
As air travel continues to grow, so will the need for qualified technicians. In fact, with the anticipated retirement of many pilots and mechanics, there continues to be a growing concern as to where technician replacements will come from. This concern, combined with a growing aviation and aerospace industry, will offer aviation maintenance technicians a tremendous outlook for career opportunities.
There are many different areas where technicians can find employment. Major airlines, overhaul facilities, manufacturers, and small charter services are just a few of the opportunities available to maintenance technicians.
Although training for aviation maintenance will include knowledge of many different types of airframes and powerplants, technicians may choose to specialize in a particular area in which they are most interested, such as line maintenance, engines, airframe structure, and overhaul and repair.
Although pay ranges for aviation maintenance technicians can vary from company to company, position to position, and geographical location, technicians can anticipate above average incomes. Aircraft Maintenance Magazine, July 2002, reports 2002 survey results of average annual salaries at $53,900.
There are a few different avenues available to those wishing to obtain the education and training necessary to become an aviation maintenance technician. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) requires that technicians not only gain the knowledge necessary to repair and maintain aircraft, but the practical, hands-on skills as well. Several universities, colleges, and technical schools offer aviation maintenance training that will prepare students to obtain their airframe and powerplant license. Some schools offer degree options. All are required to offer hands-on training. Schools training under FAR-147 are required to provide a minimum of 1900 clock hours of training. Some schools exceed the minimum requirements to ensure they are training technicians prepared to embark on a successful and rewarding professional career.
It's very important to review reputation, history, accreditation, and graduate success when choosing the right school for you. Industry-current equipment, training aids, aircraft inventory, and training facilities are also important considerations. It is also recommended that you choose a school that has a proven and verifiable placement history and a current placement department to assist you in making that first step in your new career. Many schools offer other services, such as employment assistance while in training and help with housing. Also, be sure to check out financial aid and scholarships.
If you enjoy working with your hands as well as your mind and are interested in a fast paced, ever-changing career environment, then aviation maintenance may be just the ticket for you!