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.

SubscribeGet emails when new questions are answered. Ask Me Anything!Show Bio +

Share:

Ask me anything!

Submit Your Question

108 Questions

Share:

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 almost 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.

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 over 4 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 jsfirm.com , 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.

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

Asked by zzzach almost 5 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.

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 over 4 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. 

 

Is there a particular aircraft you work on that you consider to be the best made / most sturdy?

Asked by smittay_101 almost 5 years ago

The best made/most sturdy award goes, hands down, to the Douglas DC-8 series aircraft. I have never worked on a more overbuilt, Mack Truck of an airplane.

can you email me at swissie@hotmail.ca i have a few questions for you that i need to ask for my assignment

Asked by Shawn over 4 years ago

Done and done.  :)

Are you responsible for ALL mechanical aspects of the plane, or do airplane mechanics have specialties?

Asked by Django almost 5 years ago

In general, the larger the place you work, the more specialized the people and teams tend to get. Avionics people doing the electronic stuff, sheetmetal doing all the sheetmetal work, mechanics doing all the mechanical stuff, etc. If you work for a smaller place, or are out on your own at a remote outstation, or as a ride on mechanic; it is possible that you would have to do whatever task pops up. As an AOG/Ride on mechanic in the past, I’ve had to do a tire change, troubleshoot a fuel quantity problem, and perform a small sheetmetal repair; all in the same day, same plane, by myself. This would tend to be more common on smaller aircraft as well, as they tend to be privately owned, or operated by smaller organizations. Some mechanics do work only in specialties. Sometimes a mechanic will only have the Airframe portion of his/her A&P license, and they can only officially work on structures and associated systems. Same for someone with only a Powerplant license; they can only work on engines and their systems (typically defined as anything on the engine side of the firewall). There are also people who never work anything except Avionics, seats, painting and such. The typical person with an A&P (Airframe & Powerplant) license, is expected to be more of a ‘jack of all trades’ when it comes to aircraft. And mechanics that can actually perform as such, are valuable to have around.