Turbo prop aircraft are primarily smaller, private planes; however, the same technology is used in many commuter planes and airbuses. All FAA-approved programs require 1,900 hours of education and experience training, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. In addition to classroom instruction, such programs provide opportunities for aspiring aircraft inspectors, avionics mechanics and turbo prop aircraft technicians to gain hands-on technical competencies by working on engines in airplane hangars. A high school diploma or its equivalent is required for most associate's degree programs. Coursework prepares students to pass oral and written exams to receive certification. Program fields include aviation maintenance and aircraft maintenance and repair.
Certificate in Aircraft Maintenance and Repair
Certificate programs in aircraft maintenance and repair train students to inspect and repair aircraft engines and systems in private and commercial airplanes. Training programs are designed to prepare students for Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) certification. Certificate programs combine classroom instruction with technical experience in an airplane hangar. Students learn about aircraft systems such as reciprocating engines, flight control, exhaust and aircraft electrical systems. Students are also taught the appropriate procedures in aviation maintenance. Common career titles include:
- Turbo prop aircraft technician
- Avionics equipment mechanic
- Aircraft inspector
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Associate's Degree in Aviation Maintenance
This degree can be found under several titles, including airframe mechanic or aviation maintenance science. When looking for a program, it is important to make sure the school's program is approved by the FAA or the courses will not count towards the education requirements for A&P certifications. The courses cover maintenance and repair for most types of private and commercial aircrafts, as well as practical experience. Common course topics include:
- Landing gear systems
- Fuel, hydraulic and pneumatic systems
- Aircraft rigging and assembly
- Powerplant systems
- Propeller systems
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), aircraft and avionics mechanics and service technicians were projected to see a 1% increase in employment opportunities between 2014-2024, which results in little to no change in employment numbers. The May 2015 median salary for aircraft mechanics and service technicians, who work on the aircraft itself, was $58,370, while avionics technicians, who work on electronic equipment within the aircraft, earned a median salary of $58,540. Larger airlines generally offered higher wages than private facilities.
Continuing Education and Certification Information
Aviation mechanics may choose to enter the workforce immediately or they may further their education through a bachelor's degree program in aviation maintenance or aerospace engineering. These degree programs provide students with advanced knowledge in avionics systems design and management.
In order to work on aircraft, mechanics must be certified through the FAA. The requirements for certification include the completion of FAA-approved training program or several months of experience in the field. Additionally, applicants must also pass written, oral and practical exams.
Since turbo prop aircraft use a similar technology to many commuter planes, aspiring repair professionals can learn the skills they need through an FAA-approved training program at the associate's or certificate level. Students are prepared to work in the industry following graduation, or they can pursue a bachelor's degree program to earn more advanced skills.