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 does your typical workday consist of? Are there days where the planes are generally in a good shape so there's not much to do? Or is there ALWAYS something that needs tending to?

Asked by Scotty Ace over 4 years ago

My typical workday, currently as an inspector, consists of showing up on time; getting a basic turnover on the hot projects of the evening; checking in with all the work crews to show my face and let them know where I'll be if they need me; and then spending most of the night with the most important project that I find. Sometimes it's a "shakedown" of an aircraft fresh into our Repair Station, to find any issues with the areas that are on our inspection task cards. Other times, it will be working with our maintenance people on their ongoing projects, making sure everything is going together as it should be, proper techniques and materials are being used, and buying back the working steps and/or finished task cards. If you mean what does the average aircraft mechanic do; I can answer that too. The average aircraft mechanic who is working on an aircraft that is flying every day, or on different aircraft that come in and out every day; will have plenty to do, always. When the plane first lands, the flight crew should be debriefed to find out any issues with the airplane, and that they are written up properly before the aircrew departs to the hotel. Then a basic walkaround is performed, to look for issues with the airframe and engines. Then there is often servicing, like fuel load, engine oils, tire pressures, lav servicing, oxygen, potable water, etc. The items that are not routine always effect that typical routine though. Depending on how they need to be addressed. Some things can be verified, and simply deferred until the plane has some downtime. Other things must be worked right away, and fixed. On a regularly working airplane, there is always something that needs tending to.

What are the best and worst parts about being an airline mechanic?

Asked by Winona almost 5 years ago

The best part of my job, to me, is when you get the chance to take an old airplane out of desert storage, clean it, fix it, repurpose it, and roll it out to send it off flying, looking and performing like a brand new airplane. Kind of like that Overhaulin’ television show. The worst part is hard to pin down. There are lots of parts of this job that aren’t the best. Though they are the parts that tend to morph into the best stories later on. Dealing with any part of the hydraulic systems where you get fluid all over the place, and yourself, is pretty bad. Skydrol hydraulic fluid is wicked nasty stuff to play with. It has a drying chemical in it (which keeps water out of the systems) that doesn’t play well with human skin, and mucus membranes. Basically touch any part of your body with it, and it feels like it’s burning (eyes, mouth, genitals are the worst). Very hard to clean off too. Cleaning some of the hard to reach places on planes isn’t very fun either. Just imagine all the oils, greases, dirt, bird and bug parts, etc that can collect in an airplane’s crevices. It’s yucky. But, it is kind of rewarding to see the clean area afterwards, so it isn’t all bad. Overall, I guess the historically unstable job situation for most aircraft mechanics may be the worst. I’ve been lucky so far, in that I’ve pretty much worked at essentially three places. Eight years at first, then the company went bankrupt. Then eight more years, before that company closed their location. Now, with a couple stutters in the beginning, I’ve been where I am at for about three years. A lot of aircraft mechanics are essentially aviation gypsies. Going from job to job every six months to a year, zig zagging across the country. The holy grail used to be to get in with one of the major airlines. But even that isn’t the sure thing it used to be. The American dream of working for one place for 30 years or so, and retiring; is kind of not a thing most aircraft mechanics can aspire to anymore.

I've been on flights with only a few other people when they asked passengers in the back to move to seats further forward. Why? Is that really the difference between a safe and unsafe flight?

Asked by bored over 4 years ago

This is common on small to medium sized airplanes, when they are not very full flights. Mostly for weight and balance purposes. Airplanes are happiest when most of the weight is near the center of gravity, which is usually near the midpoint of the wing, going fore and aft. Smaller airplanes are more sensitive to this than large ones.

Why do some countries' airlines have such bad safety records? Like the Soviet Bloc ones? Are their planes just too old, are the pilots not as well trained, are their mechanics not as thorough, or what?

Asked by as_sa almost 5 years ago

To be honest, I’m not sure. I haven’t worked in any ex-Soviet countries. The few people I’ve met from them, that were aviation people, seemed very competent at their craft. Above average actually in my opinion, simply because they were used to doing so much with so little in the way of equipment and supplies. I’m not sure why the older Soviet airliners had such a bad safety reputation. I know the build quality wasn’t up to Western standards. their jet engines had to be overhauled three times as often as an equivalent engine from the West. Maybe it was the materials used, the engineering. I am not sure. I do know that their stuff is getting better, with a rise in dependability, and a safer flight record. So that’s good. :)

Another day, ANOTHER Dreamliner emergency landing...do you still think it's just an overreaction to media? Is the nature of the glitches that have occurred particularly worrisome? Fires and fuel leaks don't sound good...

Asked by Torbor1 almost 5 years ago

Obviously, these are problems that Boeing needs to figure out. With the new type of batteries in use on the 787 and it’s accompanying all electrical systems, I would have thought that overheating and battery fires of this nature wouldn’t be happening. If I were Boeing, I’d root out the cause of each of these incidents, and (rightfully) expect the media to share the results with the same zeal that they’ve shown in reporting the initial headline incidents. It is my hope, that these issues are the result of people interacting and maintaining the systems incorrectly, due to the newness of them. I rather hope it isn’t any inherent flaws in the design of the systems. But, with airlines grounding their fleet of 787’s, a definite Boeing solution to what is going on will have to happen, and soon. And yes, I do think that the media is over reporting the 787 things. Which is unfortunate, because that is what people will remember for years after these initial problems are fixed. Not the thousands of safe flight hours that will occur afterwards. I’ll refer people again to avherald.com for a list of things happening every day, around the world, to other airplanes. There were several in flight engine shut downs in the last week, did the media report on those as hard as the 787 stuff? There were a couple instances of smoke, and/or debilitating fumes in aircraft in the last week other than the 787 stuff, but I didn’t see huge media coverage on that either. It’s like everything else in the news, and for now, 787 is the flavor of choice.

How do you feel about the new "Regional jet" being produced by Mitsubishi? Do you think it has a good chance of competing against Boeing and Airbus?

Asked by Jason over 4 years ago

I think the new Mitsubishi Regional Jet is going to be a pretty fun aircraft. Most of it's manufacturing tech is fairly standard, but the powerplants will be the first commercial use of the new Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan engines, the PW1000G series. I have little experience with Mitsubishi aircraft, excepting some light line maintenance on some MU-2 models. And for what it's worth, I though those were very well made aircraft. And good looking to boot! As far as competing against Boeing and Airbus: From what I'm seeing as far as specs, it is supposed to be a 70 to 90 seat aircraft, which puts it below the market for the smallest of the B737's and A318's. They start to come into play somewhere around 120 seats or so. The MRJ will be competing directly with the Bombardier CRJ's and the Embraer E series jets. And seeing as how the MRJ is a brand new design, with the latest and greatest tech engines on the wing, I think it should do very well in it's market. Providing it's purchase price is competitive, and operating costs are low.

Did you ever catch something critical at the very last minute just before a plane was heading to the runway for takeoff?

Asked by NathanFields almost 5 years ago

Yes, once. We were launching a Boeing 747, and the crew was all on board, engines started. We unplugged our headset after wishing them a good flight, and were driving away in the truck. I heard the air motors for the leading edge flaps go off as they were extended, and it made me turn my head to watch. It was then that I saw that one of the sections of extended leading edge, between the number three and four engine, had not extended properly. One of the two arm mechanisms on that section had seized up halfway out, and as a result, the section was full out on half of it, and only half on the other, with the structure all twisted and broken in between. The plane had already started taxiing, and we had to radio them to stop, because something was broken. If it had been missed, and the aircraft had taken off, it could have caused a problem. Parts could have been ripped off in flight, damaging the aircraft further, or even causing sections of leading edge flap to jam in the 'out' position; creating a dangerous asymetrical flight characteristic. That was the only time I caught something right before flight.

I'm doing this project and i need to know how much time off do aircraft mechanics get throughout the yeear?

Asked by Shawn over 4 years ago

The short answer is:  Just as much, or as little, as any other profession.

Legally speaking, there is a paragraph in the FAA regulations that address this, in Part 65:

"Within the United States, each certificate holder (or person performing maintenance or preventative maintenance functions for it) shall relieve each person performing maintenance or preventative maintenance from duty for a period of at least 24 consecutive hours during any seven consecutive days, or the equivalent thereof within aany one calendar month."

Essentially, that means that we have to have four days off per month.  

And that rule, is what makes possible schedules that I've had in the past; such as when I as a ride on mechanic, working 20 days on ten days off.

Currently, I have the super normal situation of having two days off per week usually, with two weeks of paid vacation, and some sick days, every year.  That's being a full time company employee, of course.

At a different company, a few years back, I had the above schedule usually, plus the benefit of an additional week of time off; designated for use during the week of Christmas thru New Years; which was the 'plant shutdown' period at the Canadian plant headquarters of our company.  Now that was nice!

But I've also had the 'horror story' schedules occasionally also.  Where we would be working twelve hours a day, seven days a week; until we bumped into that mandatory four days off mentioned above.

So, it really varies company to company, and depending on your workload, and the urgency of it.  Just like any other job.  

Hope I helped.

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

Asked by Duffplz over 4 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.

Why does landing gear get stuck so often? If it gets completely stuck in the up position, what are the options for landing the plane safely?

Asked by WendyFF over 4 years ago

In my experience, having the gear get stuck is a pretty rare occurance. A more frequent problem would be an indication failure of some kind. In which case most planes have little sight windows in the floors, where the crew can physically look at the gear to see if it is down and locked safely. Usually, if the gear gets stuck in the 'up' position. The manual extension mechanism is used successfully to lower the gear. If that all fails, and the gear is stuck 'up'; then the options are about like you'd expect: Look for the best place to land. Somewhere large and flat if preferable. An airport is best, as they have the emergency equipment at the ready 24/7. Then try to belly it in as softly as possible. I wouldn't want to try it on a modern jet aircraft.

Does your work get extra scrutiny after there's a highly publicized plane crash?

Asked by bing0 almost 5 years ago

I have noticed that work is extra scrutinized by the FAA, if you are working at the particular airline that actually experienced the accident. If you are working at a different company, that operates similar equipment or in similar conditions; the company itself will look closer at things, so as to prevent such a thing from happening to them and their aircraft. If it is a big issue, the FAA will issue an Advisory Directive (AD) that directly addresses the cause of a given accident soon after the cause is known. This will put the aircraft in question, as well as the personnel performing the tasks, under an extra level of scrutiny.

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 almost 5 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.

When you're working on a plane, do you think about the fact that you've got hundreds of people's lives in your hands?

Asked by dan79 almost 5 years ago

I can only answer this accurately from my own perspective. When we were in school, when I was earning my license more than twenty years ago; it was drilled into us, that every aspect of what we do can effect the safety of the aircraft. Even seemingly minor 'annoyance' problems, such as a stuck switch, or a loose knob, can cause a distraction for the pilot, leading him/her to focus on something stupid, when attention should be focused on more important things. Aircraft have crashed for just such reasons in the past, it's a human factors distraction thing. Often hundreds of lives are at stake based on the safety of an aircraft. And, while the average mechanic will think of this sometimes, I find that the primary focus in real practice is simply getting the given task at hand done properly. Which tends to take care of the whole safety aspect automatically. As far as myself worrying about hundreds of people, I find that either too big a thing, or too far removed (as I won't personally know most of them). When I think of it at all, I tend to think about the flight crews, or the ride along mechanic, that will be on the plane. Those people I tend to know personally, which puts the safety aspect on a much more personal level. And here again, when I address this smaller group, the rest are taken care of.

Spending as much time as you do working on defects in parts / systems, does it in some ways surprise you that there aren't MORE plane crashes?

Asked by Toms almost 5 years ago

Taken as a whole; any airplane is a wonderfully fiendish complex machine. However, taken individually, each system on an airplane is easily explained and understood. That , coupled with thorough maintenance schedules, insures that airplanes can be operated safely. Take away that understanding of the systems (training and experience), and the good maintenance (such as certain 3rd world countries); and accidents DO happen more frequently than you’d expect. That all said, even a poorly maintained aircraft typically has backups to it’s backups on important systems. So, no, the current state of safety and number accidents is in a good place, and I expect the historical trend to continue, and things to get better.

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).

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

Asked by bilton biggsby almost 5 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.

What do you see as the future of air travel? Are planes going to get bigger, faster, or more fuel efficient? Aren't we going to HAVE to find new technologies before we run out of oil?

Asked by Sam over 4 years ago

I don't know really. But if I were to speculate, first I'd say that airplanes probably won't get much bigger. The A380 and B747 are pretty darn big, and pretty much push the limit of our existing infrastructure. I also don't know that I'd like to see that many people up in the air at the same time in one plane. I think we'll see faster airplanes, when the engineers get the sonic boom suppression issue licked. Once that happens, we'll start to see things like the Concorde in action again I hope. Fuel efficiency will improve, as a matter of course I think. That's one of the big selling points for the aircraft and engine manufacturers to talk about. We haven't hit the wall on the limits of the turbine engine yet I don't think. Pratt & Whitney with their new Geared Fan technology is just starting to go in a new direction commercially. I think it might be the next big thing for aircraft engines. To address new tech for an oil deprived future? I believe that companies like GE, Rolls Royce, and Pratt & Whitney (among others) are already working on that. It isn't out in the public eye yet though. I would theorize on an all electric ducted fan engine if it were me. Most of the current advanced turbofan's thrust is generated by the bypass air, that never even goes though the combustion core of an engine. Replacing the internal combustion turbine altogether is a natural next step. Battery and/or electrical generation technology is the biggest hurdle to this next step right now. I think air travel has an exciting future. There will be problems along the way, there always are. I hope I get to see what's in store.

Do you feel you're compensated fairly? Are aircraft mechanics unionized?

Asked by steve o over 4 years ago

Short answers would be, no, and some; respectively. I have never worked in a unionized place. I know most of the major airlines are unionized though. But the majority of aircraft mechanics are not unionized. As far as compensation; I would have to say I don't feel I am paid fairly. But I am paid kind of like the industry indicates. So, in that regard, it's fair(?) I will let you decide. My current position is as a QC inspector. I am salaried at 57K/year. For that pay, I am responsible for all my aircraft inspections, all the work that I sign behind mechanics on, and the safety of any airplane that I release. Though I am working behind an airline or repair station certificate, my license is also on the line every time I sign for something. So apart from the safety aspect, I could lose my means to make my living if I screw up. I live in Northern Michigan, so that salary is not so bad really. My family and I live simply, and it is enough as a single income. But, to throw some perspective on it. I have seen jobs advertised for the New York City area, that pay between 25 and 30 dollars per hour. Which, is NOT enough to get by on usually, unless you are a single guy, living simply. Which is why most aircraft mechanics in those metropolitan areas, work more than one job. So keep that in mind. That the mechanics and inspectors that are working on that plane you fly on, are sometimes working a full time job, plus another part or full time job. The aircraft industry is notorious for underpaying it's workers in my opinion. My first job out of A&P school, at a medium sized cargo company on big jets, was for 7 dollars an hour. Back in 1993.

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

Asked by zzzach over 4 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.

Have you heard whether they are getting anywhere sorting out the Dreamliner issues? Have the things they've found been serious, or do you still think it fell victim to media exaggerations?

Asked by Doryas over 4 years ago

I have seen where Boeing has completed the flight tests with a new and improved main battery assembly.  Which consists of taking the existing cells, adding space and insulation in between them, and installing them into a double walled 'armored' battery enclosure box; which also features improved airflow cooling.  This box is also sealed, and vented to the exterior.  So even if something happens to the battery inside, all fumes, smoke, etc will be vented outside, and be no danger to the airplane's occupants.

I think the battery issue is serious.  In as much as anything that can cause a fire on board an airplane is a serious issue.  The media did jump all over it pretty zealously; and in all fairness, they should be falling over each other to give equal coverage to this improved battery system that is almost ready for certification.

The battery issue is the only really serious issue that I've read about.  Fuel seepage, and whatever else there was, are really just teething problems typical of new aircraft in general. Those issues will be dealt with as well as a matter of course.

I read that United Airlines is scheduling a return to service for the 787 for June 2013.  With the assumption that the FAA will release the aircraft for flight by then.  

Research the problems that Tesla Motors had with their Roadster model electric sports car; as far as battery overheating and fires.  The batteries used in that car were also of the Lithium Ion type, and very similar problems were encountered to the Boeing 787 situation.  There was a lot of knowledge learned with those problems years ago.  I'm actually pretty disappointed that Boeing did not avail themselves of those lessons learned.

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 almost 5 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 over 4 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.

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.

I know that planes are built to withstand lightning strikes, but will they get an automatic mechanical checkup immediately after a flight where that happens? My girlfriend says her plane got struck and it made the whole thing jolt and dive suddenly.

Asked by d_firestone1 over 4 years ago

Well, I can tell you what we do at my current company.

If it's reported that the airplane has sustained a lightning strike, or when someone finds lightning burns on the aircraft; a lightning check is made to find the extent of any damage.  We do this in accordance with the appropriate aircraft maintenance manual.

In general, a lightning strike check has three parts:

1- Examine the external surfaces for lightning strike

2- Examinine the internal components for lightning strike

3- Inspection and operational check of the radio and navigation systems

It's actually quite an extensive process.  

I've found some interesting looking burns on airplanes sometimes.  Often looking like arc spot welds on the aluminum skin, or burn marks with delamination on the composite structure.

It's all fairly safe though.  The planes are bonded and structure ground strapped together so that electricity will flow through the structure and back out at some point.  

So usually when an airplane gets hit by lighting, there will be a point of contact mark, as well as an exit mark where the electricity came back out.

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 over 4 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 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.

Have you ever suspected a pilot was drunk before his flight and what's protocol if that happens?

Asked by Samsson almost 5 years ago

I’ve never had to deal with that situation. If something like that were to happen, companies have plans in place to deal with it. Without looking at my current company handbook (I will after I answer so it isn’t cheating); I would call Crew Scheduling, or Maintenance Control, tell them what is going on, and do whatever they advised me to do. We have on site safety department personnel at several locations, and arrangements at outstations, which can provide for a breathalyzer, or other tests. Those people would be called in I imagine, to test the pilot. Certainly never let someone in that condition fly the plane.

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.

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 over 4 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.

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. 

 

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.  :)

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

Asked by evan over 4 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.

Can airplanes fly upside down?

Asked by JimSaunders over 4 years ago

Regular aircraft cannot fly along upside down like in an airshow. The reason for this is that the fuel and oil systems are designed for a one Gee environment. The fuel pickups in the tanks are on the bottom of the tanks in the lowest corners. The oil tanks on the engines feed from the bottom of the tank. So if you go upside down, those oil and fuel pickups will suck air. You can roll an airplane as long as you maintain at least one Gee. As the famous Boeing test pilot did when the Boeing 707 was having it's debut. For a very skilled pilot, such a maneuver would be possible. Airplanes that you see performing upside down, have either been designed from the start to do such things, or have been modified.

I'm in school currently to become a aircraft mechanic and I have a paper to write and had some ?s. what kinds of reports do u have to make while working? What kinds of oral communication and to whom? types of communication? What happenswith poor com?

Asked by Will over 4 years ago

There are several types of 'reports' that I have to make in the course of my work.  

The simplest one is the Non-Routine.  When I find something wrong, or that needs doing on the aircraft: I fill out this form, which gets recorded in the records, and then is addressed by the appropriate department at our Repair Station (maintenance, sheetmetal, avionics, paint shop.....etc)

Another kind of report we have to fill out sometimes is called an Service Difficulty Report (SDR).  These are filled out whenever certain "critical" systems or structures have a problem.  Such as emergency equipment.  If we have an emergency light that doesn't test properly; we have to fill out the report.  This gets submitted to the FAA, and goes into a huge database which is all sorted out as to types of aircraft and issues; and is used to help them decide when to issue Advisory Directives (AD's).

As to Oral Communication:  There is oral communication all the time.  Even if it is something that is written down, we usually go over it verbally (and use our hands for that matter).  As an Inspector, I communicate with the mechanics on the floor, their supervisors, and often the Hangar or Shop Foreman.  At our Repair Station, everything is 100% inspection buyback; so we are constantly in demand to witness certain steps of jobs, or to do final buyback on tasks.

We use all types of communication here.  We use written communication, via our non-routine and routine task cards, written turn overs on jobs and shift work, as well as little grease pencil notations on the aircraft itself, to help guide mechanics to the discrepancy areas.

We use oral communication, to discuss the steps of a job that is about to be performed, as well in all other steps of maintenance.  Reading body language and speech inflection is also important when talking about the work at hand.

Poor communication results in about what you'd expect.  From the nearly harmless simple repetition of a task that was already completed; to the disastrous of having an aircraft fall off of jacks during a jacking procedure, due to confusion in the communication between the guys manning the jacks and the person monitoring the level indicator.

Essentially, with poor communication; people can get hurt or die, and aircraft can be damaged or destroyed.  

Clear, concise, and timely communication is essential to any operation; especially aviation activities.

Is it important to get a Security Clearance for this industry?

Asked by Chad over 4 years ago

No, you don't have to get your own Security Clearance.  Whichever company you work for will handle getting it for you if it is required.  

Depending on where you work, you might not need one.  But I know all the major airports require background checks to get ramp badges and such.  

And, of course, working on government aircraft will likely require some sort of clearance, and an extensive background check.

It will be a big help in this industry, if you can pass a clearance background check for sure.

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 4 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.

Is there some truth to this statement? "The third route, but that nobody does since there is no examiner that will sign off on it, is to get hired by a small outfit as a helper, get 2 years experience, and take the trade tests."

Asked by Chad about 4 years ago

In my experience, no, that is not true.  I have seen many, and when I say 'many', I mean hundreds; of people get their license going the experience route.

Just do it right.  Record every job that you do on an OJT form, and document all the time you spend working on the aircraft and related parts.  Then, at the 18 month mark, if you have enough things documented, you can get your employer to write a nice letter telling the FAA all the time you've spent working for them, and basically what you did.  This is just a corroboration for your stack of OJT forms.  Then usually, the FAA guy will sign off on it.  This will allow you to take either your Airframe & General tests; or the Powerplant test.  Take the signed FAA form to the testing center, and they give you the written test.  After you pass that; you make an appt with a Designated Maintenance Examiner for your Oral and Practical tests.  

Then, after 18 more months on the job, working the other discipline that you didn't test for; you do the same thing for that.  

36 months total to get your A&P (3 years).  

That's really the only reason I typically recommend the school route, as that can be done in 2 years or less.

It is harder to pass your Orals and Practicals going the longer work experience route.  But good Examiners will help you with your prep for it.  

The writtens are fairly easy in my experience.  There are books that detail all the questions in the test pool.  And if you study those, you will do well.

 

Is it possible for international aircraft mechanics with around 3 years of work experience on Boeing or Airbus to find mechanic jobs in USA? If so how to proceed as I have no idea or contacts here?

Asked by Rashmi over 4 years ago

Well Sir, that is a two issue question.

First you have to get a US work visa, if you aren't a US citizen.  I can't advise you as to how to get one of those.

The second part, working on aircraft in the US with a foreign license, I can add a little insight.  But, you'd be best to actually talk to someone who has done it.

Firstly, understand that your license is not recognized by the FAA.  So you don't have the authority to sign off any aircraft related work.  

Basically, if you were able to get a job lined up in the USA, it would be basically as a mechanic's helper.  With the pay lower than a licensed mechanic's.  You can use the time working, as well as your existing license, to get permission to take the Airframe and Powerplant examinations, so that you can get your FAA licenses.  You would just have to speak to an FAA inspector about that.  Usually arrangements can be made to get you signed off to take the tests.  

Expect to pay between $1000 and $2000 US, minimum to get your licenses.  It will cost even more if you go to one of those 'guaranteed' places. 

If you happen to have a specialty, such as sheetmetal work, or avionics; these areas can lean less on their license when it comes to larger Repair Stations.  You still can't sign off the work usually, but your experience will be valued if you produce good results.

It's not an easy proposition for sure.  You'd almost be better off staying where you are, where your existing license makes you worth more in pay; and put out the money to get your US FAA licenses before you try to come over and work in the US.  

If I were planning a move to another country, to work on aircraft, that's what I would do.

I usually check places like J.S. Firm to see what jobs are out there.  They usually have job requirements listed with each job.  I'm sure there are some out there that don't absolutely require you to be US licensed.  

I always wondered this: what would happen if someone ripped out a plane's emergency exit door mid-flight?

Asked by taylorlevin over 4 years ago

That sounds like a question for Adam and Jamie over at Mythbusters!

I don't really know.  

After the initial air pressure equaliziation, which could be quite turbulent I suppose; you'd still have the air rushing along outside the open hatch.  That would create some suction, courtesy of Bernouli's principle.

I guess as long as you stayed away from it, and were belted in, it might be all right.

A more immediate concern would be bringing the aircraft down to an altitude that had enough oxygen for humans to live.

And further:  Opening an emergency hatch would be a Herculian effort for sure.  All the emergency exits I've seen, are plug type hatches.  Which means that whomever 'ripped' it out; would be fighting against the higher air pressure of the inside of the airplane, versus the outside air.  

Those few psi don't sound like much, but it adds up to a lot of force holding that plug type hatch in place, even without a latch holding it.

Is there still a shortage of A&P mechanics? If so why is that?

Asked by Roshawn Davis almost 4 years ago

I don't know that there is really a shortage of mechanics.  Companies seem to be willing to hire non licensed mechanics to work alongside the A&P's without much worry.  

I suppose there are 'shortages' in certain parts of the country.  Just from my experience in job searching; there wasn't necessarily a job available within 300 miles of me.  But, if I'm willing to travel or move, there seems to always be openings.

There is the ever looming "A&P shortage" that is always talked about, especially with the supposed retirement of our oldest working A&P's from the baby boom times happening.  But I haven't really seen it in my sphere of experience.

If someone was interested in becoming an Aircraft Mechanic, what would you tell him/her?

Asked by Ted about 4 years ago

It probably depends a lot on how I feel about my job at the time. I am human after all.

But generally; I would cover the basics with them. Explaining how it helps to have good mechanical skills to start with. As those who lack mechanical ability, but have the book smarts are quickly found out once on the job. Those folks end up in planning, if they are lucky. It's a hard road to go down, if you remain on the floor without that basic ability.

I'd tell them not to expect to get rich doing this job.

I'd tell them that it is often very hard on relationships (wives/husbands, girlfriends/boyfriends). As this profession is notorious for sometimes long and unpredictable hours and travel.

I'd tell them to get ready to invest in a personal tool collection. But to be smart about it. The big name brand tool boxes are just 'bling'. And you pay dearly for it. A solid Craftsman, Stanley Vidmar, or similar box; will serve you long and well. For a lot less money. It's just a box! And to not be a tool snob. Get the tools that will do the job best, for the least amount of money. Don't just walk onto the Mac/Snap-On/etc tool truck and open a line of credit.

I started with a basic Craftsman tool set, and it worked fine.

I'd tell them to figure out where they'd like to be in ten years; and do what it takes to pay the dues to get there now. Once you get set up in a 'just for now' situation, it's hard to change tracks, and sometimes backtrack in your career, to get where you wished you were.

I'd tell them to go to an Aviation Maintenance school to get their license. Just go be a student for a couple years. Get a little loan debt if you have to. But get that license now, before you start. Otherwise it's a lot harder to get all the on the job training and such, plus studying, time to go take the tests; later on while you are working as a mechanic's helper full time.

I'd tell them to avoid company's that suck all the joy out of life. If you find yourself working at one of those places, leave as soon as possible. Don't stay until you want to quit aviation altogether.

Most of all, I'd ask them about their passion for airplanes and aerospace. Because if you don't have that, then all the training, tools, or good job position; won't make you love your career. It will just be another crappy job for them.

If you love airplanes, then this profession can be the best choice on earth.

The battery on a 1969 Cessna 210 was dead. I charged it overnight. It's a 12 volt system. When I connected it, turned the master on, the starter activated! the prop stared turning, the stall horn blared. the ignition was off! Why did it do this?

Asked by Flyswb over 4 years ago

I have never worked on a Cessna 210 of any vintage.  Sorry it is giving you trouble.

Clearly, something is providing power to the starter solenoid when you turn on the master switch.  Maybe the solenoid is stuck in the 'on' position; or maybe the starter switch/button is shorted to the 'start' position?  It is hard to say.

You need to get out the wiring diagram, or draw one for yourself from a careful inspection of the system.  If a visual turns up no clues; then break out the multimeter, and find out where there is continuity where there should not be any.  

If memory serves, the ignition selector is seperate from the starter button.  So the ignition could be off, and still turn the engine over.  

I have few ideas about the stall horn, I'm just not familiar with the system.

I know that on the big jets I am familiar with; if you advance a certain throttle lever too far, with the flaps up, and your airspeed too low; you will get a warning horn.  

Maybe you have a similar system on this aircraft?  

Sorry I can't be more help.  Good luck, I know you can figure it out!

gear used in aircrafts

Asked by Vinod over 4 years ago

Vinod, I'm not sure what you mean?  If you mean the basic tools I use on the job, check out the answer I just gave to Chad........

"What tools or equipment do you usually use on the job?Asked by Chad over 1 year ago

Currently, as an inspector in an engine shop, my tools consist of what I carry on my belt:  A good flashlight, a leatherman, a mirror, a blue pen, black pen, and red grease pencil.

Our shop cabinet has numerous precision measuring devices.  Calipers, micrometers, depth guages, etc.  All a mix of Starrett, and Mitutoyo brands.  

We also have two GE borescope kits, which are simply marvelous.

When I was a mechanic, I had a Stanley Vidmar toolbox, which I judge to be the sturdiest for the money.  With a mix of Craftsman, Mac, and Snap-On tools inside.  

Basically consisting of what you'd imagine to be in a mechanic's box.  Screwdrivers, wrenches, sockets, hammers, punches; with several different variations of each.  

Also:  Don't underestimate the value of keeping a 'cheap' set of wrenches and sockets in your box.  They are used to make 'special' tools (bending, cutting, etc) to reach difficult areas.  That way you don't have to wreck your good brand tools.

I can't exaggerate how much I love my Snap-On Ratcheting screwdriver.  Get one with the 'old fashioned' hard plastic handle, as the newer one with the rubberized inserts will get eaten by the hydraulic fluid.

Start off with the basic tool list your workplace will give you.  And just build it intelligently from there.  Buy quality when you can.  But Craftsman works just fine, don't be a tool snob.

There seems to be an almost infinte number of specialized tools and fixtures that each particular aircraft you work on will need.  Usually, the company you work for will buy or rent those for your use.  Occasionally, you will find yourself doing one certain job so often, that it makes sense for you to buy, or make it for yourself.  But you won't know that, until you do.  "

 

What tools or equipment do you usually use on the job?

Asked by Chad over 4 years ago

Currently, as an inspector in an engine shop, my tools consist of what I carry on my belt:  A good flashlight, a leatherman, a mirror, a blue pen, black pen, and red grease pencil.

Our shop cabinet has numerous precision measuring devices.  Calipers, micrometers, depth guages, etc.  All a mix of Starrett, and Mitutoyo brands.  

We also have two GE borescope kits, which are simply marvelous.

When I was a mechanic, I had a Stanley Vidmar toolbox, which I judge to be the sturdiest for the money.  With a mix of Craftsman, Mac, and Snap-On tools inside.  

Basically consisting of what you'd imagine to be in a mechanic's box.  Screwdrivers, wrenches, sockets, hammers, punches; with several different variations of each.  

Also:  Don't underestimate the value of keeping a 'cheap' set of wrenches and sockets in your box.  They are used to make 'special' tools (bending, cutting, etc) to reach difficult areas.  That way you don't have to wreck your good brand tools.

I can't exaggerate how much I love my Snap-On Ratcheting screwdriver.  Get one with the 'old fashioned' hard plastic handle, as the newer one with the rubberized inserts will get eaten by the hydraulic fluid.

Start off with the basic tool list your workplace will give you.  And just build it intelligently from there.  Buy quality when you can.  But Craftsman works just fine, don't be a tool snob.

There seems to be an almost infinite number of specialized tools and fixtures that each particular aircraft you work on will need.  Usually, the company you work for will buy or rent those for your use.  Occasionally, you will find yourself doing one certain job so often, that it makes sense for you to buy, or make it for yourself.  But you won't know that, until you do.  

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 over 4 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 4 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.

In your opinion, What is the most common airplane(s) used in the the industry? (in General Aviation and Commercial Airlines)

Asked by Chad over 4 years ago

In large commercial aircraft, it seems to be the Boeing 737, in production since 1967.

For General Aviation I'd think it would be the Cessna 172.

hey I have a 66 Cessna 150 and the mechanic has left the sparkplugs out of the engine for app 10 weeks and now the compression reading are low. I think the guy has screwed up the engine what do you think

Asked by mike about 4 years ago

I'm not terribly familiar with what you have there.  My specialty lies more in large turbine aircraft, size DC-9 and up.

But, for my two cents worth:  I guess it would depend on where the engine was stored.  If it was outside, or somewhere damp, then sure, it would probably have corroded a little inside the cylinders maybe.  But, do you know what the compression of the engine was before he took them out ten weeks ago?  

Not to defend the guy.  In my opinion, and as standard practice; you should ALWAYS plug holes just like those.  Just to keep dust an dirt out of them.  To say nothing about bugs (who may build things in there), and other foreign objects.  

I really couldn't guess if that is what caused the low compression readings.  But, if they really were left wide open for ten weeks, it certainly didn't help anything.

Sorry to hear of your difficulties.  I hope you can get things sorted out without too much trouble.

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 4 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.

Do you think flying cars will be more closely related to cars or planes?

Asked by Anonymous almost 4 years ago

I think it will be a blend of the two, at least physically.  But the actuality will be more like owning and operating an airplane.  Here's why:  

I think that there will be a lot more "car" type aspects that the airplane folks are not used to, such as more Tonka toy like wings and flight controls (for durability); as well as the nicer interiors that car/truck people have come to expect.

On the flipside, there will be lots of 'airplane' aspects that car people will have a hard time coming to grips with.  Such as the inherent delicacy of exposed flight control surfaces, the inspection frequency that will be required, the record keeping practices that will no doubt be mandatory.

The biggest thing that lots of folks aren't thinking about, will be the amount of regulation that these flying cars will be faced with for operations.  Meaning the places they will be allowed to take off and land; as well as where they can and cannot fly in and around populated places.  

Certainly there will be some kind of special operator's license that will be issued by the FAA, which will require specialized training, and recurrency.

Also the aircraft itself (Which is what the FAA will consider this to be, no matter that it can drive on the road as well as fly) will have to be certified every year, just like every other aircraft, and maintained like every other airplane.  Meaning that minor dents and dings that most cars experience can and will be a big deal to take care of.  Likely requiring certified FAA mechanics to fix, maintain, and sign off the paperwork.

I think the general public has a rude awakening coming, when their dreams of simply walking into a Ford delership and buying their flying car, has such hurdles and caveats attached to it. 

Hey this is a really interesting Q&A! Can I ask a question: do you think aircraft maintenance could be a soft target for terrorists? Everyone pays attention to the TSA, but do you think security measures around the mechanics / hangars is sufficient?

Asked by Julie almost 4 years ago

In all honesty, yes, aviation maintenance, especially away from major airports, would present some good opportunities to do no good, if that was your intentions.  

I could speculate on specifics, but I won't here in an open forum, nor with anyone I didn't personally know already and trust.  No offense.

There are many facets of aviation, or railroad, or shipping, that are pretty big soft targets.  But the TSA/NSA has chosen the targets of interest that they have chosen.  

 

who do you talk to on a typical day at work?is it mostly by radio or to the people you work with on the ground?

Asked by michuki almost 4 years ago

I'm not sure as to what facet of being an aircraft mechanic you are referring to?  

If you are talking about the "ride-on mechanic" part of the job; then yes, occasionally you'll talk to maintenance control via radio.  But usually not.  Usually you'll be talking in person to everyone you need to, and by phone when you need remote assistance or instructions.

As far as working at a maintenance base, which is where I have spent most of my career:  You most always talk to everyone in person.  Excepting when you use radios or cel phones to coordinate some operational checks of large aircraft.

In my current position as an engine shop floor inspector, I talk to everyone you'd expect.  My supervisor, my manager, my co-inspectors, and the floor mechanics.  We don't have a need to use radios in the shop environment.

I'm currently thinking about going to college to become an aircraft technician, is this similar to an aircraft mechanic? Also what are the pros and cons of your job?

Asked by Adam D over 3 years ago

An aircraft technician, is an aircraft mechanic, and vise versa.  Also, in some parts of the world, we are called aircraft engineers.

The term technician, has been taking the place of mechanic more and more, due to a push in the industry for us to be considered more than just mechanics.  And once you get deep into your training for the profession, if that's what you want, you will see why.  

You will learn how to take care of all the mechanical systems of an aircraft, you will learn how to repair sheetmetal and composites, you will learn how to paint it, you will learn how to troubleshoot the electronics suite, etc.  The aircraft of today are not the simple things that they used to be, not that they were ever simple (just check out hydromechanical fuel controls!).

The pros and cons of the job really are dependant on where you end up working.

Working outside in lousy weather is kind of a con; as is dealing with lavatory waste systems; crawling around in the dirty belly of an airplane (especially a narrow body!).  Sometimes you will find yourself working too many hours.  Sometimes not enough maybe.  You will feel underpaid.  You will often feel humble about your job, and just call yourself a mechanic.  But then you'll sometimes find yourself annoyed when someone from outside the profession calls you the same thing.  

Sometimes you'll have to go on the road, with little advance notice, and not know exactly when you'll get back.  

Long unpredictable hours, and high stress, lead to a high rate of divorce in our profession.

The pros, are many, and sometimes intangible.  If you really love airplanes, and if you don't you  should turn back now, this job is really great.  With lots of different facets to the job, you will work on many different things.  You will gain confidence in your abilities.  You will acquire a tool collection!  People who ask you what you do for a living, will often be super impressed.  

Many of our jobs have us travelling the world, on the company's dime.  I've visited all the continents except Antarctica in my travels for work.  

The intangible pro, is mostly the feeling you get.  When you walk among the aicraft in special moments, or when you see them arrive or fly away, or as you sit in the cockpit running all four engines to takeoff power for ground tests.

That feeling you get, is the real pro.  No matter where you end up.  If you love aviation, that's all you need.

i always wanted to a pilot,mechanic since i was a young boy.
i ended up becoming a plumbing contractor (which i hated my work).
i am 57 and would love to work for any airline doing anything.
am i too old?
the other problem is misdaemeanors

Asked by tom almost 4 years ago

If you don't have any felonies, and are truly willing to do anything, with a good attitude.  There is no reason you shouldn't be able to find a job with an airline, or aircraft repair facility.

Just be persistant in your job search.  And, there may not be any openings in your immediate area; so you may have to move.  Check on jsfirm.com for openings.  As well as all the traditional places.

Good luck.

What do you like most about your job? the least?

Asked by Adrian over 3 years ago

My favorite part of my job, is being able to be there when an airplane that myself, and usually a hundred other people, have worked hard on; takes off into the air again.  Seeing it fly away is hugely rewarding.

My least favorite thing about my job, is being involved with a project gone wrong.  Especially when whatever went wrong, was avoidable.

I am a student in powerplant struggling with the task of searching to find references for procedures for various aircraft. Are there any sites or helpful hints to narrow down the information or is this goose chase something I should get used to?

Asked by WilkesK over 3 years ago

The short answer is:  Get used to it.

In reality, there may be places to go to find helpful hints as to where to find the info you need.  But in the long run, it's better for you to just learn how the individual manufacturer's manuals are set up and organized.  This will give you a good 'feel' as far as where to start looking for the more obscure references.

I've found, that the more recent the manual, the more of a standard it adheres to.  As the companies that put out our publications do seem to be trying to make things a little easier, and have more commonality, as far as how things are laid out.

The older manuals though; they can be a headache and a half.  Douglas did their manuals one way; Boeing did theirs another; Pratt & Whitney does theirs a third way still.  The list could go on.  

It can feel like a goose chase to find information sometimes.  If it's a PDF document, use the search function to help narrow things down.  

Otherwise, just do your best to try to learn the manuals you use most often.  Before you know it, you'll be the manual guru that everyone turns to when they just can't seem to find what they are looking for.  

Best of luck.

What advice would you give to a young person entering this occupation?

Asked by Adrian over 3 years ago

I would list out several things I kind of wish I'd known when I started.

-Don't expect to get rich!

-Don't immediately go into debt with the tool truck guy.  Believe it or not, your off brand rollaway box, and craftsman tools will work just as good as the preimium brands.

-Vet your spouse (or prospective one) for how he/she feels about you working long hours with little notice; or road trips of uncertain duration at the drop of a hat.  Not every aviation job will entail things like that, so adjust your career accordingly, if you want to stay married.

-Wash your hands often, wear your personal protective gear (rubber gloves, face sheilds, ear protection) always.

-You are not invincible to chemicals or gravity.

-Learn how to find things in your maintenance manuals and IPC's.

-Learn the FAA regs that apply to you and what you are doing.

-Don't break the rules for a paycheck.

-We all started out fresh as a daisy, and knowing about as much.  Don't forget that twenty years from now.

-The airplanes will never love you back.

This Q&A is a great help for my project! I was wondering what the job outlook is for this occupation (Is it easy for me to find a job as an aircraft mechanic if i had the right skills?) Thanks very much!

Asked by Nic over 3 years ago

Yes.  It is easy to find a job.  IF you have your A&P license, AND you are willing to go to where the jobs are.

There are most often jobs available, not necessarily in your immediate area, and you might have to go with a contracting company.  But there are jobs.  

If you don't have your license, or you aren't willing to move at least yourself to wherever the work is; then there might be a harder time finding a job.

How did you get started in this occupation?

Asked by Tony over 3 years ago

The 'How' is a lot easier to answer than the 'Why'.  

This is how it happened:  I enrolled in Lansing Community College's Aviation Maintenance Program; and went to school out at the Lansing airport for two years.  

Not too long after graduating, someone I worked with spotted a want ad for Aircraft Mechanics in one of the papers.  I called, and got hired.

That's how I became an aircraft mechanic.

This is how I became an inspector:  About ten years after I started working on airplanes; I found myself working at a place that was just getting their first B747.  And since I had more experience on them than anyone else that worked there at the time, I was dubbed the 'expert'.  Deservedly, or not.  

'Expert' transitioned to 'Inspector' when it came time for heavy maintenance.  

I recommend the two year schooling route whenever possible to get started in this field.  It is the easiest, and best way to get your two tickets.  

After that, the real learning starts.

I have a friend who is working hard to obtain an aircraft mechanic license, however, he has been arrested three times on DUI inside a ten year span. The last arrest was in 2012. How hard of a road does he have ahead to obtain his license? Thank you

Asked by PAUL over 3 years ago

There aren't any additional hurdles for your friend, as far as obtaining his mechanic's licenses from the FAA.  Nor in keeping them; as long as he stays sober on the job.

Finding a job with an employer after he gets his licenses, is another matter entirely.  If he doesn't have a driver's license, due to it being revoked; then not only will he have the problem everyone has in that situation, of begging rides to work.  But he will have the additional issue of not being able to drive any company owned vehicles on the airport or facility.  That usually means ramp vehicles, forklifts, etc.  They almost always want driver's licenses for that.

Also, lots of airport security screenings, will do the ten year background checks. And won't always be willing to issue ramp access badges to someone with recent legal trouble like that.

Many companies have government contracts; and do those background checks as well.  And wouldn't be able to use someone with extensive legal issues on any government type work.

My advice to him would be to hunt around until he finds a place that is willing to take him on; and keep his record clean while he gets experience on the job.  Then, later on he can shoot for a better position somewhere.

For what it's worth:  The aviation maintenance 'club' is often not a dry one.  Drinking after work, and partying is the norm.  Long hours, and often frustrating work feed it as well.  

I won't play nanny to him.  But it might be a tough road for a few years for him.  He can do it though, if this is really what he wants to do for the rest of his life.

Why are there suddenly more chemtrails in the sky of Crimea?

Asked by Francois Demers over 3 years ago

I would speculate that there are more contrails in the sky over Crimea, because it is a very interesting place, and there are planes taking lots of pictures of what is going on.  That, and people leaving, on airplanes.

I don't reckon that they were chemtrails.  I've never seen any evidence of chemical spraying devices on any aircraft I've ever worked on.

As far as to the existence of said chemtrails.  We should look for the simplest explanation.  

Is what we see streaming out behind aircraft at altitude, a condensation of water vapor around the warm engine exhaust?

Or is it a worldwide government plot, to plant mind control chemicals in aircraft (and somehow keep that all secret) to be sprayed into the atmosphere?

My money is on the simple condensation.

Hi, is it possible that a woman like me can enter this aircraft mechanic industry? I have been a prototype technician and im really into working using my hands. Im just worried that nobody will hire me since this is a man dominated world.

Asked by Apple over 1 year ago

I think you should have a good chance at having good opportunities for a successful career in this industry. You know the old song, "The Times They Are a Changin' "; and that is more true all the time I think.

Back when I started, in the early 1990's, what you are concerned about, was super true. But a persistent and talented woman could still be successful. There were two women in particular that started with me back then, both in sheetmetal work, who have stayed with it all these years. Now, one of them is an Inspector, and the other is a Sheetmetal Dept Supervisor.

These days, especially when I go out to the hangars, there are quite a few women running around with us. Doing things in all the main departments.

They are definitely a minority group of workers though, as you noted. And, if I'm honest, a woman entering this field has got to be top of her game at whatever she does if she can (whereas a guy can get away with a lot more slacking or incompetence); especially at first, when everyone is getting to know you. Though after that trial period, I think the women are treated pretty much the same as everyone else.

You didn't say if you had your A&P license or not; but if you don't, you should try to get it as soon as you can. The industry respects it, and it gets you more money.

Be prepared for the possibility of working with a bunch of rude and crude dudes. I won't tell you that you have to put up with things like sexist jokes, or nude pics on toolboxes; but I will tell you that you'll experience them at some point. So decide how you want to deal with it.

Most of us who are not "Normal looking straight white males", have adopted the general rule of thumb, that if it isn't singling us out somehow, or directed at us personally; we let it go. But we all have our own personal lines that shouldn't be crossed.

I don't think you should have too much trouble finding a good job, with your experience in prototype work. Just be prepared with any tools you'll need, and an open mind to learn things.

So I'm a brand new a&p doing heavy c check. My lead currently already has me doing projects solo, signing for work completed and signing off the job card to get it bought off by inspection. My question does the 6 month prior experience needed also affect buying off the card, is this s Nono or am I fine

Asked by wcbluedragon over 1 year ago

It sounds like you are specifically asking about the requirements outlined by FAR 65.81, and 65.83.

Go look them up, and read those two sections.

Ok, there are a few different ways to look at this that make what you are doing just fine.

There is the part about not returning an aircraft, appliance, or part thereof, back to service unless you have performed that work at an earlier date while under the supervision of someone who has done it before.

That could mean actually working with someone looking over your shoulder the whole time you do each job for the first time...... but usually it is interpreted as being under their supervision, as in having a lead or supervisor nearby who can help you if you have any questions, and will guide you when you need it.

The 6 month thing you mention, is basically an "active mechanic" clause. This is to prevent someone from quitting their aviation mechanic job to work at a lumberyard (or something) for five years, then just picking up where they left off one day back at the airport. The FAA views that as being gone from the environment for far too long, and you need some retraining under supervision again.

New mechanics, such as yourself, have proved to the Administrator that you are able to do the work, when you took your Writtens, Orals and Practical examinations. So as long as you start using your A&P within 1.5 years after getting it, you fall within the requirements.

"....within the preceding 24 months - (b) He/she has, for at least 6 months - served as a mechanic.....supervised others....etc"

So for every six months out of 24, you have to be an active A&P in order to maintain your privileges.

All that said; That bit gets ignored quite a bit when hiring people who have been away from aviation. And as with a lot of things like that, isn't an issue with the FAA unless there is an investigation for an error, accident, or incident.

We are expected to police ourselves quite a bit.

If you don't feel comfortable signing off the work, make sure your lead or supervisor comes and takes a look at it as well, during and after completion. At least for the first time you do each job.

Hi Fred, I'm a student working on a team project related to aircraft production. Could you please e-mail me at thevalenzetti@gmail.com? I have some questions I'd like to ask you. Thank you!

Asked by Scott over 3 years ago

Responded as requested. 

I am interested in getting an A&P License. I have heard that one should not pursue this career, however, if they have a fear of heights. Is there a significant heights factor with this job? If so, is it with ladders or other means?

Asked by Nathan about 3 years ago

Generally speaking, to go into this profession, you should be able to work off of a six foot ladder at least. But more specifically; "It Depends".

It depends on where you end up working, and on what type of aircraft or equipment.

On one end of the scale; you could find yourself a job as an A&P, working bench overhauls or inspections in a component repair station. In which case, you will seldom see an actual airplane in the course of your duties.

Or, you could work for a place that only has small aircraft. Such as Cessna 172's. The highest you would ever have to go, is up a few steps of a six foot ladder to do something.

There is a huge middle ground, where varying heights and equiment are used to reach different points on the airplanes.

In my personal experience, which is all on DC-9 to B747's in size: I have to be able to use 6, 8, 12, and 14 foot ladders. Sometimes to their very topmost steps, for long periods of time. Motorized man-lifts are also used, both the platform sort, and the boom-type.

The tallest point on a B747 is about 70 feet in the air, at the top of the tail. And sometimes, you do have to go up there.

When I'm out in the hangars, about half of my time is spent on lifts or ladders. But keep in mind the size of the planes I work with.

The smaller the plane, the less time you'll be on ladders and lifts. When I am working a heavy check on something the size of a DC-9, for example, maybe only 25% of my time is on ladders and lifts. Since they are so much closer to the ground.

In conclusion: If you are not comfortable with heights, there is still no reason you cannot be an A&P. But remember that it will limit your employment choices severely if you can't learn to deal with heights at least a little bit.

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 2 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

I am a brand new A&P. What advice would you give to someone like myself, especially in regards to improving my skills? I came into school with virtually no mechanical experience, so the last 2 years were a growing process for me.

Asked by Nate about 1 year ago

One word: Diversify.

For your long term career health, try to diversify as much as possible in these beginning years of your A&P career.  

You will probably get stuck in one department or another, if you work for a large outfit, and that's fine. Learn all you can, and try to be the best you can be (learn the manuals and how to find what you need in them!). But whenever you can, take the opportunity to work outside of your department specialty. Lend a hand to Avionics, Sheetmetal, Composite, Powerplants; whenever you can. An extra hand that knows how to do things will seldom be turned away when it is needed. 

"Help me...... buck this rivet, ring out this wire, hold this bolt while I torque the nut, get the vacuum set on this composite repair...." All things that help you learn a little bit more.

Eventually, you'll probably settle into one speciality; maybe start moving up the ladder; and that will make it harder to do other things. So do it now, while you are new. It will pay off in the long run, when you want to try being an inspector, or a manager, or a maintenance planner. Experience helps you make better decisions.

If it is hard to branch out at work, then think about any local aviation museums. Places like the Yankee Air Force are always looking for qualified volunteers. You'll learn a ton from the old retired guys that are usually there.

I have some standard advice I give too: Don't go into deep debt with the tool truck (Snap-On, etc); just get a decent box, and decent tools; you can add the fancy stuff later as you need it or can afford it. People might sometimes tease you for having Craftsman tools or the like, but you'll have more money in your bank account. (Except for the Snap-On ratcheting screwdriver, with the hard plastic handle; those cannot be beaten. Well worth the money)

Don't step on too many toes, or piss too many people off needlessly. This industry is smaller than you can imagine. Often you'll have to go back to work for a place you never thought you'd go back to; or work with/for someone from the past who wasn't your favorite person. Just keep it professional when in doubt.

what's it mean for an aircraft mechanic to be "mechanically inclined"? I am interested in possibly starting A&P school in the fall, but am not sure if I am mechanically inclined. Can one learn to be mechanically inclined if they are not?

Asked by Joseph about 3 years ago

A comedic answer to the question of "Am I mechanically inclined?", might be to say, "If you have to ask........".

However, I think that the whole mechanically inclined thing, comes from people who are curious and motivated by that curiosity, from an early point in life. You know the ones: They are the ones that took apart their toys, and were working on their bicycles before anyone else. And they were the first ones to successfully put their toys back together again (and they worked like they were supposed to!).

This same curiosity and motivation serves many different types of people. From people who want to know what makes a computer do what it does, and in turn, make a computer do what they want (computer engineers). To the person who wonders what makes people do certain things, and learns how to manipulate people to think and act certain ways (social engineers).

The things we grow up doing, and focusing on, are typically the things that we are "inclined" towards as adults. Meaning, that we have a more natural way with it. The tools for that job, whatever it may be, fall naturally into our hands from muscle memory.

So, following all that discussion; if you grew up taking apart things, learning how they work, and putting them back together; working with hand tools and power tools; and now find yourself grown up with all that experience behind you: I'd call you mechanically inclined.

Can someone learn to be mechanically inclined?

I'd have to put the stipulation out, that you have to want to be so inclined. If you are being forced into a profession, you'll have a hard time excelling at it.

But if you have the desire to be a mechanic (or electronics technician, sheetmetal worker, etc), then I see no reason you could not develop the expertise required. Provided you are motivated, intelligent, and logical, in your approach.

Tools will feel clumsy in your hands if you haven't used them often in the past. An assembled component, or aircraft, will seem impossibly complex. Principles and theory will seem like magic.

All those things you can learn to work with.

The more you use your tools, the more naturally they will fall into your grip, and the more you can use them without fatigue.

If you use logic to break down the most complex system, it will be simple to approach any job.

Learning the theory and basic principles behind the functions of an aircraft, while not necessary to be a mechanic in all situations, will assist you in understanding why things have to be a certain way to function properly.

A&P school will be an excellent place for you to learn all these things. Just don't get frustrated with yourself if certain things are hard at first. Everyone had a first day doing everything, even people who seem so good at something that it seems they must have been born doing it.

If you persevere, you will find the part of being an aircraft mechanic that you are best at, and soon people will watch you work and think you were born doing it too.

What's an aircraft mechanics schedual like ? Do you work everyday of the week, weekends, what are the hours like ? Are you working in the middle of the night ? In other words you leave and return when for work ?..

Asked by Brie over 2 years ago

It is very difficult to answer that question accurately, to be honest.

As an aircraft mechanic,you'll likely find yourself with a schedule set for you by management, as is typical in any job. But the thing with aviation, is that the aircraft's needs, and their schedules (which can change often) tend to modify the best laid work plans as well.

I can offer you some of the things that I've worked through over the years. Starting with my current schedule; which is a 4 and 3 type of set-up. Meaning that I work four ten hour days (on Friday to Monday), then I have three days off (Tuesday to Thursday). And it is pretty steady; I come in at 6 am, and go home at 5pm. Occasionally, you get thrown off schedule though. About a month ago, I came in at 6am on a Monday (my Friday remember); and I got put on a project where there was no second shift to relieve us. So I was there until 4 am the next morning.

Now that doesn't happen all the time, but it does sometimes. The aircraft's repair and inspection deadlines, and flight schedules come before YOUR needs. I can't stress that enough. And oddly, that is the way that it should be. Because without the planes, and their schedules, we wouldn't have a job at all. So we give them that extra bit when they need it.

A missed maintenance deadline can mean thousands of dollars in penalties from a customer. A missed gate or landing slot, also costs thousands of dollars.

In the past, I've worked traditional 7 am to 4 pm, Mon to Fri, just like a banker. But at that same job, we had to split into two skeleton shifts for months at a time, for 12 hour shifts, with ZERO assigned days off. That was brutal. And again, it was for a contract that we had to get done, in a short amount of time, with too few people.

I've been on rotating schedules. Where we worked 6 on and 2 off. And the two days off would walk one day out every week. Which was kind of fun in a way, once you wrote it all down. Though one of those days off could easily disappear towards the end of a heavy inspection check, to meet deadline.

Long, long story short. Aviation is a 24/7, 365 days a year business. And we, as mechanics, need to respond to that as best we can. So depending on what part of the business you end up in; you'll have a regular banker's schedule....... or a very unusual one, with unpredictable shift times. Or something in between.

Your best case scenario, will have you with a good company, that plans out everything really well; so that everyone can have a consistent shift, with predictable time off. But even with those places, don't be shocked if something happens to throw everything off for a few days, or a week, or whatever.

Good luck, if you choose this profession. It is very rewarding in so very many ways.

Just be in love with planes, and aviation. If you aren't in love with it, you'll end up hating your job. Because love and passion for this business, is the only thing that keeps people in it. It sure isn't the money.

Hi Fred.
I live in Costa Rica and looking to purchase a cherokee 180D.
Its been at the same flight
School since new in 1969.
It has 19.000 hours on the
Airframe and 1700 smoh.
Can you tell me what inspections i should do?thanks John

Asked by jbcrdc9@yahoo.com over 2 years ago

Unfortunately, I can't do your research for you. I get paid to do things like that.

Generally speaking, you need access to the aircraft log books, the maintenance and IPC manuals for the aircraft, and access to the applicable Service Bulletins and Advisory Directives.

Before buying the plane, you need to read through the entire log book, and make note of all the inspections, repairs, and modifications it has had in it's lifetime. You have to then do an AD and SB search, to research what AD's and SB's were supposed to have been done to it, and when.

Finally, inspect the entire aircraft to verify all of the work that has been documented, as well as seeing if what should have been done, was done, and properly.

A thorough pre-buy inspection is no small matter to do properly. It is basically an in depth Annual Inspection.

Don't take anyone's word on anything. Verify everything yourself.

Enjoy.

What is the future job outlook for mechanics in this industry.
And what should someone hoping to go into this field know?

Asked by mike over 2 years ago

The future job outlook for mechanics is...... hazy to me, at best.

I get the feeling that there is a measurable percentage fewer people getting into the field; but that goes hand in hand with a general industry trend towards more technologically advanced aircraft, that require less maintenance (in the short term anyways) to keep in the air.

As a rough example (and these numbers are not exact): Take a Boeing 747 type aircraft. The Classic -100/200's required quite a bit of maintenance to keep them going, especially as they got older (10+ years or more). With heavy checks required every calendar year, along with a long list of corrosion inspections. Moving on to the -400 models; we see more composites used, and more advanced types of engines and avionics. These aircraft might need their heavy checks only every 1.5 to 2 calendar years; with fewer associated corrosion inspections, and more reliable systems in general. Now we have the -8 series 747; which uses even more composite material, even better and more efficient engines, and a lot more electronics to get things done. These will likely have even longer periods of time between the heavy checks, with fewer mandatory inspections to go with them.

So with that rough example, you can see how fewer mechanics are going to be needed to maintain any given fleet of aircraft. Where you used to need 1000 people at a heavy maintenance base, to maintain 25 aircraft; now you might only need 600 to 700 people.

But with fewer people entering the industry, this isn't such a big deal.

There is also the famously elusive "Baby Boomer Retirement" issue. This has been talked about for years now, and I haven't seen any huge shortage of mechanics due to it (nor any large increase in wages to go with a high demand job skill set, lol)

I've given lots of answers in this forum about what to expect going into this field, and feel free to peruse them for more details. But the basics you need to know are these:

Depending upon which discipline you eventually fall into, you will need to make an investment in tools. Likely several thousands of dollars.

Depending on what type of place you work for, your work hours might be strange, and highly variable (dependent upon flying schedules often)

As a hand in hand followup to that; your pay will vary depending on where you work. If you work at a small shop/facility, you might have a more steady and normal work schedule; but you probably won't make nearly as much as if you work at a larger company, where you will be exposed to all those longer hours, and unpredictable schedule changes.

Going into this, no matter how smart you feel that you are coming out of school; you don't know as much as you think you do. Plan on being the low man on the totem for a year or two at least. Do all the crappy jobs, and learn from everyone as much as you can.

The aviation industry as a whole (pilots, air traffic controllers, stewards/esses, mechanics, etc) experiences a really high divorce rate. Mostly because of our strange schedules, and associated stress of the job. You should probably make your significant other aware of these facts going into this.

Lastly: You will not get rich.

Good luck, I wish you the best of success.

I've read quite a few success stories about A&P Mechanics making six figures through out there career. But when I talk to local mechanics they all say the same thing "you will not become rich". Lol. How true is that?

Asked by john lenn over 2 years ago

I will probably start and end this answer with this:  How do you define 'Success'?

If you only define success as being tied to a six figure income, then let's crunch some numbers (and I should note that I'm only talking the large aircraft jobs where you'd make the bigger money; as working on smaller aircraft for smaller companies will almost always be for a lot less money):

Starting wage here where I work, for an A&P with little to no experience averages about $20/hr.  So at 8 hour days, that figures to $41,600/yr.  You can see that it would be a pretty big stretch to make a six figure income at that level.  I don't think you could get enough overtime to cover the gap.

But, what about a place like a Fed-Ex, UPS, or a major airline?  Well, let's say you can start at $30/hr at one of those places; that'd gross you $62,000/yr working 8 hour shifts.  Now the spread to a six figure is getting smaller.  But you'd still have to work your tail off, on a shift that gave you a premium (such as nights/midnights) to make six figures.

Now, but you say, you've heard rumors of places like that (Fed-Ex...etc) where mechanics top out around $40/hr.  Ok, now you're talking!  $82,000/yr on 8 hour shifts becomes a reality.  With six figures within reach, if you work some overtime throughout the year.  

BUT.  A job like that would be the exception, and you don't even make that kind of money until you've been there for ten years or so.  Jobs like that don't come around that often, are hard to find, and getting hard to keep for 20+ years anymore.  Companies seem to merge, go bankrupt, lay off, etc; with increasing frequency these days.  So lots of the guys who used to make that kind of money, are now working at secondary airlines, for a lot less money.

So that was just some ballpark numbers, regarding straight up A&P licensed people, who work in the United States.

People who I have heard can make six figures, with a new A&P even, are mechanics who can get in with companies overseas, usually in the Middle East, working government or oil company contracts.  Those mechanics can indeed pull in six figures.  But they are gone overseas most of the year.  And those jobs are very difficult to get; unless you have connections, or are a military veteran with the right experience already before you even get your A&P.  And connections.  (did I mention connections?)

So it is possible to make six figures with your A&P.  But the price you pay, is never being home; not seeing your wife/girlfriend; missing your kids growing up; and even not being able to enjoy all the money you are making as much as you'd think, because all your toys you buy are usually at the home that you are never at.

Basically a lot of the things that you would think you are working to have and support, are the things it can cost you to make that six figure income.  And to make that six figure income, throughout a career as a wrenching/metal bending A&P; is brutal to you physically.  After ten years working either on the road all the time, or crazy amounts of overtime; you will feel like an old man (and you'll be lucky to not have some kind of addiction problem via cigarettes, alcohol, or worse).  After twenty years of doing it?  You'll wake up wishing you were dead sometimes; with all your joints worn out.  After 30 years of doing that kind of work...... well, I don't know anyone personally who has.  They either die young, find an easier position in aviation, or leave the industry.

Don't get me wrong, you can get promoted to management positions, sometimes quickly even; and make a good income too.  

But in my opinion, the people who are telling you these success stories, about actual A&P's, who are actively wrenching on things: they are defining a successful career as simply making a six figure income.  Which is all you'd be doing; MAKING that six figure income.  You wouldn't be enjoying it very much.

That kind of thing might not seem important when you are young.  I know when I was in my twenties, it didn't bother me to be gone all the time.  Even to miss a lot of important moments in life.  But the older I get, the more I feel that the stupid saying, "Work to live, don't live to work" is more true every day.

With an A&P, you have the ability to make a comfortable living.  Where you take it, depends on the choices you make.

So, how do you define success?

Hello do airplanes have mechanics travel with them during flights. Do they fix things on the plane during the flight and can't it wait till they land.i think mechanics don't fly with the plane cause of the prevention like changing hose b4 time etc

Asked by fallensynner over 2 years ago

Yes, some aircraft do have mechanics that fly along with them. They are the very definition of Ride-On Flight Mechanics.

It depends upon the route the aircraft flies usually, that would determine whether or not a ride-on mechanic would be aboard. If you have multiple flight legs, that take you into airports where you have no outstation support for maintenance, then that would be airplanes you might find ride-on mechanics with.

Planes that typically fly to and from destinations that they have maintenance support at, will not have mechanics aboard.

In my experience, with cargo and passenger operations; we have at least one ride-on mechanic on board every flight usually. In addition to their ground duties, of doing checks, periodic maintenance, and repairs; they will often spend time during the flights doing troubleshooting research for ongoing issues with the aircraft; fixing things around the cabin or cargo decks, or doing inventory and upkeep on the in-flight spare parts kit, and tooling.

On passenger flights, ride-on mechanics do similar duties, but it is pretty certain that they will be called upon to do minor fixing during flights. There seems to always be something in the galley that decides to not work right, a drawer gets jammed, seat arm rests come loose, etc. All kind of minor stuff, but it needs to be taken care of if possible.

I suppose the larger airlines would be places that you would not see ride-on mechanics often, as they have outstation personell most of the places they go. You start to see it the smaller the airline is; or how 'charter' in nature their flight destinations tend to be.

If you don't know where your plane will be in a couple days, it is usually a good idea to have a mechanic hanging around to do things that need doing.

I will soon be taking my oral an practical exam, and I want to know if yu can provide some helpful tips.

Asked by john lenn over 2 years ago

It's hard to offer specific tips on taking your O&P's Much depends upon who the DME is that is giving you the exams. Your best bet for really useful info is to talk to other people who have had that particular Examiner, who can let you know the areas that seem to get focused on during the testing. It seems that all the DME's that I've heard of, have particular areas that they like to focus on. Often depending upon their own work experience.

In general, you really have to know your basics front to back. Looking up references properly; using calibrated tools; safety wiring (!); basic sheetmetal repair techniques such as repair layouts, drilling and countersinking holes, shooting fasteners (and how to determine if they are acceptable afterwards), calculating bend radius'.

In my experience, for the practical portions of the test, the 101 type level of skill in each discipline is what they'll want you to demonstrate. Nobody expects you to be a sheetmetal expert, or an avionics guru, etc. Just know your basic skills in each category you are being tested on.

Know how to calculate a weight and balance sheet. I think they all give that part.

The Orals tend to cover all the parts of whichever license you are going for; starting with basic questions, with followups that are optional depending upon how you answer the first few for each category. For example: if you show confidence and competence in the first two questions about pressure carburetor theory, then the examiner will likely just go on to the next category. They don't tend to flog a dead horse once it is obvious you know what you are talking about in one area.

Sorry I cannot be more specific. To be safe, you really just have to bone up on all the information and technique.

You know those little fish containers, with the latching lid and air holes? This may be the wrong place to ask, but I can't find any OPEN flight-jobs to ask. With one of these, am I able to take a pet baby turtle if it was kept on my lap? Thanks! :)

Asked by Boris about 2 years ago

I'm sorry, I really have no idea if that is allowed. I'm not on that end of the business.

Do majority of aircraft mechanics travel? Because i want to be one but i dont want to travel as i want to stay home while being an aircraft mechanic

Asked by Chris about 2 years ago

Some positions will require you to travel and some will not. It just depends on the position.

The expected job duties are usually listed on job postings, so you can see what they say. But most aircraft mechanic jobs list at least "occasional travel" as one of the expected things.

Lots of aircraft mechanics end up never or very seldom travelling for the job. So just look around, and see what you can find.

What are the maintenance requirements for a small 2-person, light-weight aircraft? (e.g., Piper Supercub)

Example: 2 tires need to be changed every 150 flight cycles

Trying to calculate the annual / lifetime maintenance expenses of the vehicle

Asked by Jamie almost 2 years ago

There are lots of aviation forums and sites that can help you calculate this sort of thing. I have zero experience with the maintenance planning aspect of small aircraft.

Generally, such a database is built up with use in your particular scenario.

hello i was wondering do you have to be physically fit to be an aircraft mechanic and also if you dont have too much previous experience with repairing things would going into this field be a bad idea? or are teachers willing to help

Asked by Flying Duck over 1 year ago

Short answers:  No, you don't have to be physically fit to be an aircraft mechanic; You can do this work without too much experience repairing things previously; and of course teachers are willing to help you.

Longer thoughts and answers:

1) As far as being physically fit - I mean, obviously it helps you if you are physically fit.  With greater fitness you can work harder, longer, without fatigue.  And with a lean and trim body, you can work easier in the tight areas that are all over the typical aircraft.  

But you don't absolutely have to be fit and trim. For example, I've been at least 100 lbs overweight my entire career so far.

Has it been ideal?  No, it has not.  I've been unable to squeeze into places plenty of times, and had to get someone else to do the thing for me.  Once, I even got myself stuck in between an electronics rack and the floor beams in a DC-9.  

Beyond the strictly physical aspect; being physically fit would help in any career.  From the making of the initial impression, to the lasting reputation you work with.  Slim, fit people, are usually thought better of overall.  That's just the way the world is.  (But I suspect you know that already)

A career in aviation maintenance, depending on what end of it you work in, can be really tough on your body.  No matter what level of fitness you are.  

2) So you don't have much experience repairing things - I guess I'd have you ask yourself how comfortable you are working with your hands, and tools; and whether you can figure out maintenance instructions fairly easily or not.  

It sounds like you are planning on going to an Aviation Maintenance school, by how you worded your question.  Which I think is a great idea.  It is the route I took, and in my opinion it is better than going the on-the-job experience route of getting your license.  Either way, you pay for it.  Whether in up-front costs via tuition and time; or in at least three years of working for reduced pay as a mechanic's helper while you gain the experience necessary for the tests.  Going to school first, will get you your education before you start.

Teachers will not only help you with your learning, and hands on projects.  Good teachers will guide you to your strengths as well.  The best teachers, will honestly tell you if they think you are hopelessly in the wrong training program.

If you choose this career, you will find a lot of people who start doing it, with nothing but shade tree auto mechanic type experience when they start out.  So don't be too intimidated.  

Being logical, clever, and good with your hands, will carry you far in this job field.

How many hours do you work a week? How often do you work 3rd shift? How often do you get called in in the middle of the night? How much do you make?

Asked by Zach over 1 year ago

I generally work 40 hours a week. With some periods of needing to work 50 or 60 per week.

There is a regular scheduled 3rd shift here where I work, so I don't have to work those kinds of hours.

The only time I've been called in the middle of the night, was when I worked a position where I did not have real scheduled hours to work. Which sounded great at first, until they started calling at all hours of the day/night.

Where I work, mechanics start at $21 US/hr; and inspectors start at $55k salary per year.

The most common overtime I work, and have historically worked; is the kind where you come in for your regular shift, and get roped into staying until something is done. Which can mean 12, 18, even 24 hours on the clock. Getting asked to stay a little late is common. 4 + hours over, is rare.

How did you land your first job and did you feel competent enough to handle tasks being thrown at you? And how did you achieve perfection in carrying out different tasks?

Asked by Toole over 1 year ago

I landed my first Aircraft Mechanic job by pure luck. Someone I worked with at the time, saw a job posting for a place two hours North; and she clipped it out of the paper for me. If she hadn't done that, I don't know what I'd be doing today. (at the time, I had been working towards being an electronics technician at the local community college)

Yes, I felt competent enough to handle any task that was thrown at me. Only because I was young and stupid, and didn't know any better. I made a LOT of mistakes those first few years.

Achieving perfection is always a work in progress. Sometimes you think you've done it; until some time later, when you learn something new, and realize you didn't do it as good as it could have been done.

I don't suppose I'll ever achieve actual perfection. But I will always try.

I love to work in aircraft this is my dream job,
But as you had over 20 years of an experience,would you advise me to join it and get my license, And is it good job for lifetime living ?

Thanks

Asked by Anmar over 1 year ago

In my opinion:  If you love aircraft; and more importantly, the less glorious job of actually working on them; then this might be the career for you.

So far, this has been a good job as far as making a living.  It pays pretty well, if you choose your jobs and locations carefully. 

If you really plan to make a career out of this; where a career means starting, and progressing forward or upwards; then I'd advise you to get a four year degree before you start, or at some point along the way.

Reason being, there are a lot of ways you can start off this career.  At the low end, you can walk in with a small toolbox, no license, and start working for mechanic's helper wages on a maintenance crew; or you can invest in yourself up front, go to school for your A&P licenses for two years; then continue with your school for a couple more years to get that four year degree.  Doing the latter, will prep you to not only start off at full mechanic's wages, but also have you poised to move into management at the appropriate time later on. (As lots of companies require a four year degree in their managers)

If you are flexible with locations, travelling, and willingness to do various parts of the job; then you will never be unemployed.  

Being an aircraft mechanic can be a great career, if it is right for you.  Only you can really decide if it is.  

hello, i have tried to get a reliable answer from several airlines. i have an older black lab. she is a great cargo flyer but can't handle extreme conditions. I have been told only in a 747 can the pilot control the pressure and temperature to the exact conditions of the passenger cabin. Is that true or are there other commercial aircraft where i can be confident my dog has the same conditions i have above? many thanks, Ron

Asked by Ron about 1 year ago

This is a little outside my expertise area of maintenance and inspection, but I can tell you what I know.

All commercial aircraft, with cargo areas below the passenger deck, are pressurized. That area is within the pressure vessel of the fuselage.

"Most" commercial aircraft, have cargo areas that can be controlled as far as temperature. On some aircraft, it is only one of the cargo bays, on others it is all of them.  

From my limited research, if an airline calls itself "pet friendly", they will take care of your animal very well, and insure that the pet is in temperature controlled areas the whole time it is in their care.

I learned a little by reading this link: http://www.petrelocation.com/blog/pet-travel-expert/pet-cargo-myths-and-facts

You will have to do some more research into customer experiences, and particular airline policy.  

If a RAT deploys under fuel exhaustion powering the central hydraulic system/primary flight controls - Does this still initially utilise Flaperons for control as part of the "primary flight controls"?

Asked by Martin about 1 year ago

Martin, you are going to have to research that question yourself, within the given aircraft AMM or systems manual.

The only RAT I've ever messed with, is the L1011's, and that was almost 20 years ago. I couldn't answer a question about that system anymore either.

WHAT IS IT IMPORTANT TO KNOW ABOUT BEING AN AIRCRAFT MECHANIC BECAUSE I HAVE FOR A LEARNERSHIP UNDER SAA

Asked by SIMON 9 months ago

I assume you mean that you are, or are going to be, an Apprentice (learnership?) Mechanic for South African Airways (?).

First thing: Going in the door, I would say is to commit to doing everything that the training program says for you to do; in the way it wants you to do it. Those company training programs are usually really well thought out and thorough in their methodology. So if they ask you to do really menial tasks for a while, there is a reason for it. Remember, nothing is beneath you when you are learning. If nothing else, the worst task in the world makes for a good story ten years down the road (but it usually teaches you something valuable in the process).

You'll learn how to do the job, earn your licensing, and hopefully end up with a long term position with the Airline.

Second: Learn the manuals you will be working with. This means the Airline's operating manual; Repair Station Manual (or equivalent); and most importantly the Aircraft Maintenance Manuals, and Illustrated Parts Catalogs. This doesn't mean you have to memorize them; but definitely be familiar with them. I can't underscore enough, how much of a hero you can look like sometimes, for simply being able to zero in on the information you need quickly. Especially when an aircraft is waiting on the ground for a repair or a part.

Know which manual applies to which aircraft (there are effectivity codes); and know how to figure out which part number in the IPC applies to your aircraft, so you do not order or request the wrong part (again, effectivity codes: learn how to use them)

Most importantly: Love the job, and have integrity in your work.  

As an aircraft mechanic, how dirty can the job be? Does it blacken your hands as much as cars or trucks would?

Asked by Tori 11 months ago

Yes, of course it can get dirty. :D

You run into the same types of grease, oils, soot, etc.. that you do in car & truck maintenance. Though I would more liken it to heavy diesel trucks, in most cases.

General rule of thumb is: The newer the aircraft, the cleaner it is probably going to be to work on. But that is pretty universal as well.

I try to mitigate the mess in my old age, by wearing gloves when I have to handle filthy items; and keep lots of clean rags handy.

I try not to bring my mess home with me anymore. I'll never forget having to wipe down the inside of our washing machine sometimes, after doing a load of work clothes in it. It left a black film behind.

Why is it important for a flight mechanic to know about friction?

Asked by Curious George 9 months ago

I guess I am not certain what your specific question is. It is important for anyone who works with machinery to understand a thing or two about friction. A flight mechanic needs to know no more, or less about friction than any other type of mechanic.

Does a person walking on snow and ice need to know about friction?

How about a carpenter, shaping or sanding wood?

This is a strange question you have asked.

Do you need a Private Pilot License to become an aircraft mechanic?

Asked by Tel 7 months ago

No, you don't need a pilots license to be a mechanic. Nor do you need a mechanics license to be a pilot

They are totally separate things.

If you wear glasses, can you still become an aircraft engineer?

Asked by Tel 9 months ago

Yes, of course you can!

Can an Aircraft Technician work anywhere in the word?

Asked by karen.tladi@gmail.com 8 months ago

The answer, as with most professions, is both Yes, and No.  Reason being, is that you weren't very specific in your question.

An aircraft technician can work anywhere in the world that they have permission to work, just like anyone else.  But the value of any licenses they have, depends very much on which company they work for, and the country they are in.

I'll illustrate this with a close neighbor of mine:  Canada.

As a United States FAA licensed Airframe & Powerplant technician, I can work in Canada, as long as I have the applicable Canadian government permissions to do so (work visas, corporate sponsorship, etc).  And I very much had the opportunity to possibly do so, back when I worked for Pratt & Whitney Canada in Upstate New York.  

But, since the CAA (Canadian Aviation Authority; their equivalent of the FAA) does not have reciprocity with technician licensing; my A&P license wouldn't have any literal value.  I would not have authority to release any parts or aircraft as airworthy.  I would be restricted to working as the equivalent of an unlicensed mechanic's helper, or apprentice.

The same is true of a CAA licensed technician who wished to work in the USA.  Different licenses for different aviation authorities.

A notable exception to my situation, would be an FAA licensed Repair Station.  There many of them located around the world, and my A&P license would have value if I worked with them.

Another exception would be working with any US "N" registered aircraft.  My A&P has value when working with those aircraft, no matter where on earth they are.  As I could do maintenance or modifications on them, and have authority to declare them airworthy or not.

So yes, an aircraft technician does have opportunities to work anywhere in the world, as long as their licensing is effective where, or on what, they are working. Also, you could work for a company that might send you to all corners of the earth on their dime.

But then again, no, we as individual technicians cannot just go working anywhere we want, unless we have the proper government permissions to do so.

I hope that all made sense.

What are acceptable "dead zone " limits on the yoke, if any. Piper Cherokee PA 28. 140

Asked by Grumpier 8 months ago

This Q&A is for career oriented questions only.

I wanna become an aircraft maintenance engineer, and I've heard that there's 18 month, 30 month and 4 years program.
I wanted to know what the difference is.

Asked by Tel 8 months ago

I see you mentioned wanting to become an "aviation maintenance engineer". That is not what we call ourselves in the USA. So I assume you are not talking about the US FAA's process of getting your Airframe & Powerplant mechanic certificates.

There is an 18 month documented on the job training period before you could test for either your Airframe or Powerplant certificate. Then another 18 months working towards whichever one you didn't get in the first 18 months.

I've never heard of a 30 month program. Nor a specific 4 year program.

Unless you are thinking of going to a regular college or university for your A&P, and continuing on for a four year degree.

I'm sorry. It is likely that you are asking about a certification program that is literally foreign to me.

I only know about the US FAA system.

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 8 months 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.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I would like to take seconds of your time to ask you, what would attract you in an Aircraft Technician? is it : AVIONICS (Aircraft systems and electronics) or MECHANICAL (Aircraft Mechanical engines and structures).

thanks alot.

Asked by Martin 4 months ago

Without fully understanding the context of your question..... I guess I would want both.

An avionics person with no mechanic experience is pretty limited; and vice versa.

Especially in these days of increasingly electronic aircraft.

Hello! What do you think about the safety of the 787-9? It has been a few years since it launched-should we be concerned with the new materials or the lithium ion battery fires? Have you traveled on one, and do you think it's safer than the 777?

Asked by bout to fly 7 months ago

I think that the safety record of the 787 so far, is quite good. The battery issue was a big problem; but given the vented firebox that the batteries are now installed in, I don't think there should be any fear from any battery issues anymore. (The new battery box design can withstand a complete battery meltdown without threatening the airframe)

As far as airframe materials go; I think composites are very well understood at this point, being a very "state of the art" material for aerospace. Both Airbus and Boeing have a lot of experience with them, not to mention the other related industries that have been working with them, contributing to the pool of knowledge.

With the ever evolving aircraft certification rules, the B787 was certified to a higher set of standards than aircraft that came before it, such as the B777. But that is true for any new design these days.  

At this point, with the difference in numbers of airframes and hours flown, it would be hard to make a case for safety 787 vs 777. But I don't see anything to indicate that the 787 is any less safe than a 777.

I've had the experience of inspecting and working with several B777's at this point in my career; but never a 787.

I've never flown on either type of aircraft. But I wouldn't hesitate to fly on either type.

Truth be told, I've never even seen a 787 in person. So I cannot verify that they even exist. :b

How much is required to complete the whole course (Aircraft engineering or A&P) in the US for an international student?

Asked by Tel 5 months ago

First off:  In the United States, an A&P (Airframe & Powerplant Technician) is never called an Engineer.  And an Engineer, is never called an A&P.  Reason being, that they are very different jobs.

In the USA, if you are an engineer; then you are involved in the design and stress analysis end of things.  Whereas the A&P works the aircraft or components themselves.

Also:  An engineer would require at least a 4 year degree from a university.  An A&P can get educated and certified in 1.5 to 2 years, depending on where you go.

As far as cost for you to go to a school here in the USA, as a non-resident?  I really have no idea.

You are going to have to contact the admissions department, of whichever schools you are interested in going to.  They will break down all the financial estimates for you.  That's what they are there for.  

I can only speak from my own experience.  That back in 1990 - 1992, when I got my two year degree, and A&P from Lansing Community College; it cost somewhere around $18,000 USD for the entire program.  But that was with me being a resident, and living at home with my parents.  

So you'd have to figure a non-resident fee, plus room and board on top of that $18,000 for you; as well as account for 25 years of inflation!

Sorry to not be more help.  You really do need to get in touch with the admission departments of some of the colleges and universities that offer A&P certification programs.  There are a lot of good ones out there.

I recommend the programs at Lansing Community College; Northern Michigan University; and Western Michigan University.  

There are many others though, and I encourage you to shop around.

Good luck!

PART 6 - Thanks in advance for the answer and please if you can, make the question max caracters higher :) fly safe !!!

Asked by AeroPedro 5 months ago

For liability reasons, this Q&A is limited to career oriented questions only. I don't troubleshoot aircraft issues over the internet.

So I'm going to point you towards your approved aircraft maintenance procedures, where there will be some sort of troubleshooting information regarding your pitot airspeed system.

There will probably be some kind of visual/physical inspection entailed; as well as a calibrated pressure performance check of the system, or individual components

It is always good practice to keep your pitot static system ports and probes covered when not in use. (Using approved covers, that will probably be brightly colored, with long streamers, so as not to be left on before a flight)

Never assume anything.

Good luck.

How does having 2 magnetos add simplicity opposed to only having 1?

Asked by Megan 7 days ago

It isn’t supposed to add simplicity. Having 2 magnetos is supposed to add redundancy. Which adds safety.

PART 1 Hello Fred, I have my private pilot license and am currently in training for my ifr rating. I'll eventually do my commercial as well, so when I'm not flying with an instructor, I go time building. end of part 1.

Asked by AeroPedro 5 months ago

 

PART 2 So today I went for a flight, lots of CBs in my area but not at my airport so I went for patterns. On my first take off, airspeed stayed at 0, I aborted take off, contacted ATC and went back to park. Nothing seemed wrong with the pitot tube.

Asked by AeroPedro 5 months ago

 

PART 3 Right after snagging the plane, I took a similar 172M, took off, and same thing. I actually lifted and sure enough Airspeed climbed with my alt, aborted take off, back to park.

Asked by AeroPedro 5 months ago

 

PART 4 So both times airspeed stayed dead, and raised a little with about 30 ft of alt. I suspect that both had pitot tube stuck shut. My question is, am I correct in assuming that the 2 planes at the same pitot tube issue.............

Asked by AeroPedro 5 months ago

 

PART 5 because they had been parked next to eachother, so exposed to the same elements ? How likely is that pitot blockage issue to happen again? (planes had also not been flown in 3 days and it s been raining a lot, they also don't have pitot covers

Asked by AeroPedro 5 months ago