Aircraft Mechanic

Aircraft Mechanic

Fred Robel

25 Years Experience

Au Gres, MI

Male, 46

I'm a licensed Aircraft Mechanic & Inspector with twenty-plus years in the field. I've had a varied career so far, with time spent in the sheetmetal, mechanic, and inspection specialties. Most of my time is on heavy Boeing and McDonnell Douglas aircraft, of the passenger, cargo, and experimental type. This career isn't for everyone, but I enjoy it.

Please do NOT ask me to troubleshoot problems with your airplane, that is not what this Q&A is for.

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108 Questions


Last Answer on October 11, 2017

Best Rated

I'm doing this project and i need to know how much time off do aircraft mechanics get throughout the yeear?

Asked by Shawn over 4 years ago

The short answer is:  Just as much, or as little, as any other profession.

Legally speaking, there is a paragraph in the FAA regulations that address this, in Part 65:

"Within the United States, each certificate holder (or person performing maintenance or preventative maintenance functions for it) shall relieve each person performing maintenance or preventative maintenance from duty for a period of at least 24 consecutive hours during any seven consecutive days, or the equivalent thereof within aany one calendar month."

Essentially, that means that we have to have four days off per month.  

And that rule, is what makes possible schedules that I've had in the past; such as when I as a ride on mechanic, working 20 days on ten days off.

Currently, I have the super normal situation of having two days off per week usually, with two weeks of paid vacation, and some sick days, every year.  That's being a full time company employee, of course.

At a different company, a few years back, I had the above schedule usually, plus the benefit of an additional week of time off; designated for use during the week of Christmas thru New Years; which was the 'plant shutdown' period at the Canadian plant headquarters of our company.  Now that was nice!

But I've also had the 'horror story' schedules occasionally also.  Where we would be working twelve hours a day, seven days a week; until we bumped into that mandatory four days off mentioned above.

So, it really varies company to company, and depending on your workload, and the urgency of it.  Just like any other job.  

Hope I helped.

Why does landing gear get stuck so often? If it gets completely stuck in the up position, what are the options for landing the plane safely?

Asked by WendyFF almost 5 years ago

In my experience, having the gear get stuck is a pretty rare occurance. A more frequent problem would be an indication failure of some kind. In which case most planes have little sight windows in the floors, where the crew can physically look at the gear to see if it is down and locked safely. Usually, if the gear gets stuck in the 'up' position. The manual extension mechanism is used successfully to lower the gear. If that all fails, and the gear is stuck 'up'; then the options are about like you'd expect: Look for the best place to land. Somewhere large and flat if preferable. An airport is best, as they have the emergency equipment at the ready 24/7. Then try to belly it in as softly as possible. I wouldn't want to try it on a modern jet aircraft.

Does your work get extra scrutiny after there's a highly publicized plane crash?

Asked by bing0 almost 5 years ago

I have noticed that work is extra scrutinized by the FAA, if you are working at the particular airline that actually experienced the accident. If you are working at a different company, that operates similar equipment or in similar conditions; the company itself will look closer at things, so as to prevent such a thing from happening to them and their aircraft. If it is a big issue, the FAA will issue an Advisory Directive (AD) that directly addresses the cause of a given accident soon after the cause is known. This will put the aircraft in question, as well as the personnel performing the tasks, under an extra level of scrutiny.

Do you ever deal directly with pilots? Is it a friendly or contentious relationship between pilot and mechanic?

Asked by Duffplz almost 5 years ago

I have in the past, and still occasionally do interact with the pilots in the course of my work. I've generally found that pilots and mechanics get along fairly well. Each group teases the other sometimes, and often have choice nicknames for one another. It's usually a friendly and respectful relationship.

Do you need to know how to fly a plane in order to be an airline mechanic? If not, do you think you could "wing it" in an emergency, given what you know?

Asked by Old Crow Joe almost 5 years ago

No, aircraft mechanics do not need to be pilots. As far as being able to take off, fly, and successfully land and aircraft; I think I’ll waver between Yes! no, and maybe. Personally, I think I could probably set up an airplane to take off, and get it into the air. Maybe able to keep it in the air for a bit even. But landings, I’ve noticed, are a little more delicate. Don’t get me wrong, I could plant an airplane on the ground. You just might not want to be on board with me.

Spending as much time as you do working on defects in parts / systems, does it in some ways surprise you that there aren't MORE plane crashes?

Asked by Toms almost 5 years ago

Taken as a whole; any airplane is a wonderfully fiendish complex machine. However, taken individually, each system on an airplane is easily explained and understood. That , coupled with thorough maintenance schedules, insures that airplanes can be operated safely. Take away that understanding of the systems (training and experience), and the good maintenance (such as certain 3rd world countries); and accidents DO happen more frequently than you’d expect. That all said, even a poorly maintained aircraft typically has backups to it’s backups on important systems. So, no, the current state of safety and number accidents is in a good place, and I expect the historical trend to continue, and things to get better.

When you're working on a plane, do you think about the fact that you've got hundreds of people's lives in your hands?

Asked by dan79 almost 5 years ago

I can only answer this accurately from my own perspective. When we were in school, when I was earning my license more than twenty years ago; it was drilled into us, that every aspect of what we do can effect the safety of the aircraft. Even seemingly minor 'annoyance' problems, such as a stuck switch, or a loose knob, can cause a distraction for the pilot, leading him/her to focus on something stupid, when attention should be focused on more important things. Aircraft have crashed for just such reasons in the past, it's a human factors distraction thing. Often hundreds of lives are at stake based on the safety of an aircraft. And, while the average mechanic will think of this sometimes, I find that the primary focus in real practice is simply getting the given task at hand done properly. Which tends to take care of the whole safety aspect automatically. As far as myself worrying about hundreds of people, I find that either too big a thing, or too far removed (as I won't personally know most of them). When I think of it at all, I tend to think about the flight crews, or the ride along mechanic, that will be on the plane. Those people I tend to know personally, which puts the safety aspect on a much more personal level. And here again, when I address this smaller group, the rest are taken care of.