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

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Last Answer on October 11, 2017

Best Rated

what are the steps to me taken when an aircraft is grounded outstation due to maintenance defect?

Asked by issey over 4 years ago

When an aircraft is grounded at an outstation, first you need someone to take care of it onsite. If there is a ride on mechanic on board, he or she will do it. Or a mechanic will be brought to the plane from another site, or company. Once the mechanic is there at the plane, they will work with Maintenance Control, or just some other mechanics back at the home base; to determine the trouble. Once the problem is troubleshot, parts and/or materials can be purchased locally, or shipped in to repair the problem. Sometimes parts and materials can be gotten from an airplane's on board spares box, as lots of planes carry those. That's basically what takes place when an airplane gets grounded due to maintenance somewhere.

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 almost 5 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.

Do you think people are irrationally obsessed with plane crashes?

Asked by Gemma PA almost 5 years ago

That is definitely a subjective thing. In my opinion, kind of. Plane crashes are a big deal. Anytime you have the potential for losing upwards of 400 people at once, that’s a valid concern. I think those are the crashes that people worry the most about. Just because it is so tragic. People just have to keep in mind that the few crashes that happen every year are trumpeted about in the media, for the very reason that they are so exceptional in nature. If they happened all the time, it wouldn’t be so shocking to hear about them. Planes are flying regular routes 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with great safety.

What background or experience was required for you to start working on planes? Were you fascinated with aviation from a young age?

Asked by Jeremy B. almost 5 years ago

There are a couple different facets to that question actually. To simply work on an airplane, you need no credentials. Just good mechanical ability, and a clever mind. The caveat being that you must work under the direct supervision of a licensed aircraft mechanic. Reasoning that the licensed mechanic will be teaching you how to go about aircraft maintenence the proper way, much like an apprenticeship. Also, you cannot sign for your work as an unlicensed mechanic. And if it isn't in the paperwork or logbook, and signed for by an authorized individual, then the job isn't complete, or legal. Everything that is done to an aircraft must be documented. I have to stress that: EVERYTHING. If you replace one screw, that should be documented. With a proper installation reference from the approved maintenance manual, and signed for by a licensed mechanic. In my case; I chose to go to school to get my license. The schooling was at Lansing Community College's Aviation School, and it was treated like a part time job for all purposes. We had to punch a time clock, to document our hours (a certain number are required to be eligible for a license). And we went year round, for two years, five hours a weekday. At the end of that, I had my Airframe & Powerplant licenses. Which is called a "license to learn" around the school. And it's technically true. Because, by the FAA regs, even a licensed mechanic cannot perform any given maintenance task, until it is done under the supervision of another more experienced mechanic. I should mention, that if you were to choose to go the 'mechanic apprentice' route; that it's a 30 month path of documented On The Job training that is required. After which, you would be eligible to take the tests for both your Airframe & Powerplant license. I have tried to reason out why I chose this profession before. I never came up with a solid answer I'm sorry to say. I think it is a combination of things really. I had always been mechanical, working on my own cars and such. Airplanes are cool, obviously. And I had always thought so, attending local airshows when I could. Timing: I walked into the registrars office at the college to sign up for this career path, at a time when I had little direction in life. I had no idea what I wanted to do, and this seemed like the most appealing thing on the class listings. The following two years of courses would have weeded me out if I hadn't really enjoyed it I think.

Have you ever been part of an FAA investigation into a crash?

Asked by Zoltar almost 5 years ago

No. I never have. And I'm glad for it.

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 almost 5 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: avherald.com 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.

What parts of planes break down the most frequently, requiring a disproportionate amount of your time?

Asked by tr3 dog almost 5 years ago

Aside from regular maintenance items such as tires, brakes and such; there really is no one component that breaks most of the time. If there does happen to be a component or system that starts giving repeat trouble, we troubleshoot to try to figure out why. Usually there is something going on, as far as how the pilots are treating the plane, or the mechanics are maintaining a certain thing, that explains trends like that. On the older planes, corrosion is a constant battle, taken care of at every heavy check (about once a year).