A certificate is the most common requirement to work as an aircraft mechanic, and these programs are most often available at schools that have been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Associate's and bachelor's degree programs are also available. Associate's programs may help with career advancement and can provide an opportunity to specialize in an area such as safety or management. Bachelor's programs are available in aviation maintenance and management, and these programs sometimes require a certificate in order to enroll.
In an aircraft mechanic program, students can expect to take a course that covers the basics of aircraft maintenance, aviation terminology and FAA regulations. They also study applied mathematics and physics. Hands-on courses in aircraft structures, inspection and assembly provide practical experience maintaining and repairing aircraft.
Graduates must be certified by the FAA to legally work as an aircraft mechanic. Although work experience is required to pursue certification, completing an FAA-approved educational program can substitute for the time required. Aspiring mechanics usually take certification exams in airframe mechanics, powerplant mechanics or both.
Here are some common concepts explored in aircraft mechanic courses:
- Precision measuring equipment
- Electrical components
- Reciprocating engines
- Cooling systems
- Engine design and construction
List of Common Courses
Aviation Science Course
This foundational course first goes over the basic concepts of maintaining both small and large aircraft. Fluid lines and fittings, heat treatment of metal alloys, precision measurement, and the instruments and materials used to construct, repair and service aircraft are typically discussed in this class. Students also learn aviation terminology and how to interpret diagrams. Additionally, they are usually introduced to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Regulations as well as industry and government records and publications.
Mathematics and Physics in Aviation Course
Applied mathematics and how they relate to aircraft maintenance is the focus of this course. Signed numbers, roots, algebra, geometry, simple equations and exponents are generally discussed. Students also examine the principles of basic machines, energy, matter, heat dynamics, fluids and sound as they pertain to aircraft maintenance.
Aircraft Structures Course
During this course, students gain a greater understanding of the structure of various aircraft and how to inspect them in order to ensure continued and safe operation. They learn how to work with the five basic materials used in aircraft; these include plastic, fiberglass, wood, fabric and metal. Hands-on experience with skills such as installing fasteners, fabricating metal structures and repairing several types of aircraft materials complement students' theoretical education. Understanding airworthiness directives and other maintenance records, in addition to learning how to fill out FAA forms and records is typically covered as well.
Engines and Inspection Course
Through class lectures and practical experience, students learn about the individual parts of aircraft engines. With precision instruments and gauges, they dismantle engines using overhaul specifications to determine dimensional compliance. They then reassemble the engine, making sure it works to operational standards.