Aircraft Mechanic

Aircraft Mechanic

Fred Robel

27 Years Experience

Au Gres, MI

Male, 49

I'm a licensed Aircraft Mechanic & Inspector with twenty five-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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154 Questions


Last Answer on July 09, 2022

Best Rated

Hi Fred, my name is Simon, Ive had my A&P license for 2 years without a job, reason being i was arrested when I was younger, not a felony or anything but its still giving me problems getting hired. Are there any secondary jobs for a person with a A&P

Asked by Simon almost 11 years ago

Hello Simon.  I'm sorry to hear you are having a hard time finding a job.  

For what it's worth; I currently work with many people who also have non-felony legal issues in their past, as well as a few with felonies (albeit from long ago at this point).  Perhaps you are applying to the wrong places?  Try looking on , as well as your local job resources; for aviation contracting openings.  STS, TSI Aerospace, Aerotek, and many other companies specialize in filling temporary, and long term, aviation maintenance needs for their clients.  And often they are willing to take on people with more serious issues than you describe, as long as they are willing to perform.  Obviously, you would have to be willing to work in a wide range of locations possibly, on off shifts, on the crappy jobs.  

But if you pay your dues, and build up a good work history with these types of places; your legal history will start to fade in it's importance, I assure  you.

As far as secondary type jobs; be looking for anything that uses the core skills of the aircraft mechanic.  Such as welding, hydraulics, electrical, machining, sheetmetal work, quality assurance.  Lots of places understand the value of what the A&P stands for in these types of jobs.  

In A&P school, years ago, we were told that places like Disney World, MGM studios, etc; held A&P mechanics in high regard when hiring to maintain their equipment in their theme parks.  As you can imagine, many of your aircraft maintenance skills would be applicable in a place like that.

Some extra food for thought; you were probably taught basic troubleshooting techniques in A&P school.  Work on those, hone them.  Believe it or not, there are few people that can actually apply those skills in real life effectively.  And those that can, are sought after once it is shown that they can do so.  

I am confident you will find something if you are willing.  Try to keep your chin up.

Have you heard whether they are getting anywhere sorting out the Dreamliner issues? Have the things they've found been serious, or do you still think it fell victim to media exaggerations?

Asked by Doryas about 11 years ago

I have seen where Boeing has completed the flight tests with a new and improved main battery assembly.  Which consists of taking the existing cells, adding space and insulation in between them, and installing them into a double walled 'armored' battery enclosure box; which also features improved airflow cooling.  This box is also sealed, and vented to the exterior.  So even if something happens to the battery inside, all fumes, smoke, etc will be vented outside, and be no danger to the airplane's occupants.

I think the battery issue is serious.  In as much as anything that can cause a fire on board an airplane is a serious issue.  The media did jump all over it pretty zealously; and in all fairness, they should be falling over each other to give equal coverage to this improved battery system that is almost ready for certification.

The battery issue is the only really serious issue that I've read about.  Fuel seepage, and whatever else there was, are really just teething problems typical of new aircraft in general. Those issues will be dealt with as well as a matter of course.

I read that United Airlines is scheduling a return to service for the 787 for June 2013.  With the assumption that the FAA will release the aircraft for flight by then.  

Research the problems that Tesla Motors had with their Roadster model electric sports car; as far as battery overheating and fires.  The batteries used in that car were also of the Lithium Ion type, and very similar problems were encountered to the Boeing 787 situation.  There was a lot of knowledge learned with those problems years ago.  I'm actually pretty disappointed that Boeing did not avail themselves of those lessons learned.

Are you ever called upon to fix or examine things mid-flight? Put another way, are there some things that can only be diagnosed while the plane's in motion?

Asked by passingthoughts about 11 years ago

Yes, sometimes you do. Often it is just something common, that you could do anywhere, such as a stuck drawer in the galley units or a broken coffee maker. Sometimes there can be an engine or a system test that needs to be done at altitude during flight for one reason or another. Usually for troubleshooting an elusive problem.

I know that planes are built to withstand lightning strikes, but will they get an automatic mechanical checkup immediately after a flight where that happens? My girlfriend says her plane got struck and it made the whole thing jolt and dive suddenly.

Asked by d_firestone1 about 11 years ago

Well, I can tell you what we do at my current company.

If it's reported that the airplane has sustained a lightning strike, or when someone finds lightning burns on the aircraft; a lightning check is made to find the extent of any damage.  We do this in accordance with the appropriate aircraft maintenance manual.

In general, a lightning strike check has three parts:

1- Examine the external surfaces for lightning strike

2- Examinine the internal components for lightning strike

3- Inspection and operational check of the radio and navigation systems

It's actually quite an extensive process.  

I've found some interesting looking burns on airplanes sometimes.  Often looking like arc spot welds on the aluminum skin, or burn marks with delamination on the composite structure.

It's all fairly safe though.  The planes are bonded and structure ground strapped together so that electricity will flow through the structure and back out at some point.  

So usually when an airplane gets hit by lighting, there will be a point of contact mark, as well as an exit mark where the electricity came back out.

Are the 787 Dreamliner problems being blown out of proportion? Are the glitches it suffered very common and only getting so much media attention because it's supposed to be the most advanced plane out there?

Asked by Stephan1e over 11 years ago

In my opinion, the media is blowing the B787 problems out of proportion, from what I see happening. Yes, the issues that they are headlining in the news are fairly common type things for a brand new aircraft. All airplanes go through periods like this after initial launch. I think the things that are happening with it, are getting so much attention due to a combination of a slow news cycle, increased public awareness and interest in aviation safety; and the whole internet thing. Where everyone can know just about anything that is public knowledge fairly quickly. Once again, in my opinion; the only reason the FAA is doing a review of the aircraft, is that the public is so aware of what is going on, and has nothing to do with the seriousness (or lack of) of the issues that have occurred. Check out this website: It lists most of the reported things that go on every day in the commercial aviation world. Problems such as what was seen on the new 787, are very common, even on well established aircraft of any age.

Do you ever have to go into the air traffic control tower to troubleshoot something with a pilot during a flight? If you can't solve it over the radio, do you have the authority to order the pilot to divert?

Asked by Oprahh almost 11 years ago

I have never had that situation, or heard of a mechanic having to do that. 

Flight crews do occasionally confer with their company's maintenance control dept in flight about things. But this wouldn't involve the tower. 

As a mechanic, I have no authority to tell the flight crew to do anything in flight. Once I release the aircraft for flight as "Airworthy", the aircraft is the Captain's.

Tower aircraft controllers, or an FAA person would have authority to order a plane to divert. 


Even though you're probably an aeronautics expert and stuff, does it still sometimes just blow you away that this hunk of metal can fly through the air?

Asked by 67Leafs over 11 years ago

I am flattered, but I am far from an aeronautics expert. I know enough theory to know how much about it I don’t know. A properly designed wing, will generate lift by having a high pressure on the bottom, and a lower pressure on the top. So, though I know the basic theory, it does surprise me when I see how much weight can haul itself up into the air on one of our Boeing 747’s. Fully loaded with cargo and fuel, their max takeoff weight is over 800,000 pounds. Yeah, it does blow me away sometimes.