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

Is it the LAW that pilots have to inform passengers when a delay is due to a mechanical problem? I've been on several flights where that happened and just thought 'I really don't want to hear that, why didn't they just tell me it was a storm system?'

Asked by Chris about 11 years ago

Now, I won’t cheat and try to find out before I answer, though I may afterwards. I am not aware of any law or regulation that commands a flight crew to be 100% honest about flight delays with their passengers. It may be an airline policy, or just that particular crew being honest. It shouldn’t upset you, other than the fact that you are delayed. There will be no "baling wire and duct tape" repairs going on just to get you out of the gate; trust me. Either it will get fixed right in a certain time period while you sit there, or they will deplane you and make other plans. Really it’s a common thing to have last minute problems. Usually they are not flight critical and can be deferred, such as a light burned out, or a climate control not keeping the inside temp right. Other things, like a tire or brake change, or a scheduled maintenance that just ended up taking a few extra minutes, is all that it is. You know how it can be; the second you tell someone that a certain simple job will take a half hour to do, that’s when Murphy’s Law kicks in and makes something a little harder. All in all, I’d rather the airline was honest with me about such things. That way you know you can trust them about other things, which may be more important for you to know. :)

This AMA is sweet thanks! Are there meaningful differences in safety records for accredited Western airlines? Is there any concern that a budget airline like AirTran or Frontier is actually less safe than Delta or American?

Asked by Chris Hansen about 11 years ago

There is no difference in the records or maintenance requirements for US certified air carriers. They are all held to the same high standard. Whether you are talking about the smallest mom and pop airline with a Cessna 310 as their only airplane, or American Airlines; they all have to toe a very stringent line with the FAA. I wouldn't be any more or less concerned with safety with any one airline over another.

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 about 11 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.

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

Asked by Duffplz about 11 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.

Is it true that sitting toward the back of the plane increases the likelihood of survival in a plane crash?

Asked by bilton biggsby about 11 years ago

I have always heard that too, though I don’t know for sure if it is true. That is where the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) is typically located, and they usually survive crashes (though they are practically magically armored by design to do so). If it was me, based on nothing but knowing about the aircraft structure, I would feel safest over the wing area, as close as I could sit to the centerline of the wings. That center wingbox area is one of the beefiest parts of structure that you will ever see on an airplane. Though that does put you closer to the fuel tanks, so that is kind of a risk trade off. It probably comes down to luck more than anything, relating to how the airplane were to hit the ground. All that speculation said, keep in mind your statistics, and remember that flying is super safe when measured by almost any standard. Miles flown per year, miles per passenger, etc. It is a very safety conscious industry, staffed by skilled professionals. When I fly, I really do not even consider the chance of crashing, it is so remote.

Why don't more planes have power outlets? Everyone has gadgets to plug in. Is it really that hard to add outlets to a plane that already has enough power to fly through the stratosphere?

Asked by JOE about 11 years ago

I know the older planes (made 2000 and earlier), weren't made for a public with so many gadgets they'd love to keep charged. I can't speak for new ones, as I haven't set foot on a passenger plane newer than a '90's model. As for adding them. Yes, that could be done. There are already several standard power outlets on most planes, for the use of the cleaning crews at the airports. Also, I've seen regular outlets in the bathrooms before. So the process of having them isn't unknown to airlines. Maybe the airlines don't want to deal with yet another system to maintain. Or the cost of installing a modification like that. It isn't as simple as just saying "Hey, I'm going to do that". The modification has to be sent through engineering, vetted by them, then submitted to the FAA for approval. It's a lengthy process to get something like that approved for installation and use on a public carrier aircraft. I lean towards the reason of not wanting to deal with the extra system. Especially one which the general public can get their hands on all the time. Most people are responsible, and won't break the outlets, or plug in anything strange, or use damaged equipment. But there are always the few that ruin it for the rest of us. It wouldn't surprise me if there weren't already First Class seating with USB and 115Volt outlets built into them. If it's viable, it will trickle down into Business, and then Coach classes someday. The way airlines are pinching their pennies these days, I wouldn't hold my breath though.

edit 2/8/2015: You would have been safe to hold your breath actually. I'm seeing more and more airlines offering USB charging ports to their customers, built right into their seats. As a matter of fact; last year a customer at the place where I work, put in an entire new interior system into their B777's, with fancy backseat touchscreens, and power outlets for each individual seat, front to back.

I am very pleased to have been wrong with my prediction. I love gadgets on airplanes.

Are you able to fly free or at some significant discount?

Asked by zzzach about 11 years ago

At my current job, no I can't get any discounts or free flights. It depends on who you work for. If you work for an actual passenger airline, there is usually an employee discount of some kind, or free flying via standby status. Some other employers have arrangements with airlines for discounts.