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

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 5 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.

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 about 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: 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.

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 about 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 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 5 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. 


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 5 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.

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

Asked by issey about 5 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.

Do you think people are irrationally obsessed with plane crashes?

Asked by Gemma PA about 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.