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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153 Questions


Last Answer on July 09, 2022

Best Rated

What do you think are the most realistic plane crash movie scenes?

Asked by evan over 10 years ago

I really can't say. I've never been to a real crash site before. From the pictures I've seen, you usually have one of two scenarios: Either there is nothing but little chunks of metal and debris everywhere, or there are several largish chunks of airplane (sometimes just one bent up airplane if it was really low speed). I do know what isn't very realistic. Having engines running after the crash, is pretty far fetched, such as was seen in the opening scenes of Lost and Cast Away. Maybe I've just avoided most plane crash movies.

As a certified aircraft mechanic, do you travel anywhere in the world for free or do you still have to pay for the plane ticket.??

Asked by Kou Yang about 10 years ago

No, I certainly cannot travel for free anywhere.  I, along with most other mechanics must pay our own way, just like the rest of the public.

Often, if you work for one of the major commercial air carriers, you can get discounts, or fly free on 'standby'.  But, most mechanics do not work for those companies.

How big of a divot to a plane's exterior would change its aerodynamics? If I took a hammer and just whacked the top of the wing a few times to dent it slightly, would that render the plane non-airworthy?

Asked by wutang over 10 years ago

Strictly speaking; I don't know.  If you look in the maintenance manual for any given aircraft, you will find limits for dents.  Depth, width, etc.  These would be dents that do not have any structural damage of any other kind associated with them.

So, if you took a hammer and dented the airplane 'slightly' it may or may not be airworthy.

Would it fly?  Probably; because it would take a terrific amount of surface deformation to ruin the aerodynamics completely.

But technically airworthy, is another matter.

Hello Sir,
I'm Naba from India..
I'm 16 years in 10 grade.
I want to become a aircraft mechanical engineer.. So I am planning for my further studies.. Which country/city should I plan to go after I finish my 11th grade?

Asked by Naba nargis over 8 years ago

Naba, as an FAA licensed aircraft mechanic & inspector, who has worked primarily in the Mid-Western USA; I can really only answer you based on that experience.

If you plan on coming to the USA to get your Airframe & Powerplant licenses; I would recommend against large "Mechanic Factories" such as Emery Riddle.  Choose a smaller school program.  My Alma mater is the Lansing Community College aviation technology program, and I liked it very much, and it did not cost too much for a two year degree + my A&P.  I can also recommend the aviation maintenance program up at Northern Michigan University; where you can get your A&P, and stick around for a four year degree as well.  Those would be my personal recommendations.

If you meant going to some other country, then I'm afraid I cannot help you much.  

If you meant becoming an aircraft mechanical engineer, in the respect of being the guy who designs the aircraft; then I'm really really not the guy to give you advice.  I'm a mechanic.  :D

How do they install wifi on an airplane? My phone doesn't get reception at 30,000 feet, and don't they need that signal to make it work?

Asked by MOOAAR over 10 years ago

The system I've seen installed is a satellite based system. A satellite antennae is installed on top of the aircraft, and then a wireless router is located somewhere in the cabin. So no, it doesn't use the same land based signals that your phone uses.

What's a work schedule for an aircraft mechanic? Are they more at work or with their families? Do they work weekends?

Asked by David over 6 years ago

It depends.

Depends on where you work; who you work for; and what type of equipment they are flying.

Aviation is a 365/24 industry, generally speaking. And somebody has to cover the 'crappy' shifts.

Heavy repair facilities tend to get stuck with a lot of crunch time overtime. When the planes are getting close to completion usually.

Flight line work will get hit with last minute overtime sometimes. When a plane breaks and you have to fix it before it can go.

Basically, unless you work in more of a shop environment, away from the flying part of aviation; then you will probably experience some level of unpredictability in your schedule.

You'll probably work weekends, at least sometimes.

There isn't a really straightforward answer to your question.

I wana know what did you had to go through to learn about this career because I wana to go to a school that's is all they focus on and if I really have to go take basics?

Asked by Jimmy about 10 years ago

I attended a two year aircraft maintenance school in Lansing, Michigan.  At the end of the schooling, I was able to take the Oral and Practical Tests for my Airframe & Powerplant license.  

It's really up to you, as to which path you take.  You can go to a school like I did, and be done with your license after two years.  Or, you can go buy some tools, and find a job as a mechanic's helper at a Repair Station or some other aircraft place.  Your goal, if you choose this as your career path, should be to have your A&P license.  That enables you to work, and to sign off your own work.  

If you take the working for your license path, you can expect to work at least three years as a helper, before you can get your A&P license.  Because, it takes 18 months of documented work on airframe things, to get signed off to take your Airframe oral and practical test; then it takes another 18 months of documented working on Powerplant things, before you can get signed off to take your powerplant tests.

If you go to a school, they will usually have the testing available to you there, or nearby; as you reach the levels of schooling needed for each license.  

If you sign up for an aircraft maintenance school, they will include the basics of each mechanic discipline.  It is just the way things are taught.  Don't underestimate the value of re-learning basic concepts though.  It can help you in the long run.  

Good luck.