A&P mechanics are responsible for working on various parts of an aircraft, such as the engine, brakes, and landing gear. The educational requirements to become an A&P mechanic typically involves graduation from a FAA-approved training program, although in some cases mechanics with relevant work experience are trained on the job.
An airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanic is an airplane mechanic who repairs and services every part and system in an airplane except the instruments. An A&P mechanic must meet the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) standards and comply with FAA regulations to be authorized to work on airplanes. Many A&P mechanics graduate from a FAA-approved training school, though some are trained on the job.
|Required Education||FAA-approved training program or relevant work experience|
|Other Requirements||18 years old, FAA certification|
|Projected Job Growth*||1% between 2014 and 2024 (aircraft mechanics and service technicians)|
|Average Salary (2015)*||$60,160 (aircraft mechanics and service technicians)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
A&P Mechanic Job Description
An A&P mechanic inspects, services and repairs airplanes to ensure they're operating correctly and safely. A mechanic is responsible for ensuring that airplanes get regular maintenance and that any problems are fixed correctly. Mechanics may work on different parts of an aircraft, such as the engine, landing gear, brakes and pumps.
A mechanic may work with special instruments designed specifically for aircraft maintenance. The job may also involve standing on ladders and working at various heights. Mechanics service different types of aircraft, such as helicopters, jets and propeller-driven airplanes.
A&P Mechanic Duties
The job duties of an A&P mechanic vary from preventive maintenance to repairs. A mechanic makes routine inspections, documents inspections and repairs, performs scheduled maintenance and runs tests after making repairs or performing maintenance. Job duties may vary based on which part of the plane is being worked on. A mechanic working on the exterior of a plane may be fixing a broken wing, repairing paint or securing a door so it seals properly. A mechanic working on the engine may be changing the oil, replacing belts or repairing a broken part.
An A&P mechanic must know and follow all regulations set by the FAA. FAA regulations govern the maintenance schedules, inspections and repairs made to airplanes. The FAA conducts regular checks on equipment and ensures regulations are being met.
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A&P Mechanic Requirements
An A&P mechanic needs strong mechanical ability and skills. A mechanic is required to solve mechanical problems quickly and must have the physical ability to move about when working on airplanes. An aptitude for working with complex equipment and understanding technology is also necessary. Training in computers and electronics provides good preparation for the career.
The FAA requires mechanics working on airplanes to be certified. Requirements to be a certified mechanic through the FAA for a U.S. citizen include:
- Be 18 years old or older
- Be fluent in English
- Meet experience requirements (18 months on airframes or powerplants, or 30 months of combined experience) or graduate from an FAA-approved school
- Pass written, oral and practical tests
Many mechanics choose to meet the experience requirement by graduating from an FAA-approved school instead of getting on-the-job experience. Programs approved by the FAA include certificate and associate degree programs in aviation maintenance technology and aviation technical engineering.
These programs provide training in all aspects of maintenance, repair and inspection of airplanes to prepare students to take the required FAA tests. Coursework builds fundamental skills necessary for the job. Students take foundation courses in math, physics and electricity for aviation followed by courses in all plane systems and parts.
A&P Mechanic Career Outlook
Data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicated that as of May 2015, aircraft mechanics and service technicians made an average of $60,160 a year. The BLS additionally predicts a 1% job growth for these workers between 2014 and 2024. While this is below the average rate for all professions during that time, those with A&P certification are expected to see the most opportunities.
A&P mechanics work on several different types of aircraft, including helicopters, jets, and propeller-driven planes. It is essential for A&P mechanics to possess excellent mechanical skills, and they should also have an aptitude for working with complex equipment and technology. They need to pass FAA certification exams in order to work.