CAREER GUIDE FOR AIRCRAFT MECHANIC

SOC Code: 49-3011.01

Pay Band(s): 3 and 4   (Salary Structure)

Standard Occupational Description: Inspect, test, repair, maintain, and service aircraft.

Aircraft Mechanic positions in the Commonwealth are assigned to the following Roles in the Equipment Service and Repair Career Group:

Equipment Service and Repair Technician I

Equipment Service and Repair Technician II

While Aircraft Mechanics within the Commonwealth are all located within the Equipment Service and Repair Career Group, individuals may want to pursue other opportunities within the Commonwealth depending upon individual training, education, knowledge, skills, abilities, and interests.   

Other Career Group(s) that may be of interest are:

Building Trades

Engineering Technology

Computer Operations

Public Safety Compliance

SKILLS, KNOWLEDGE, ABILITIES AND TASKS

(Technical and Functional Expertise)

Skills
Note: The technical and functional skills listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Aircraft Mechanics commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the skills listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

  1. Repairing machines or systems using the needed tools.
  2. Determining the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.
  3. Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
  4. Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
  5. Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
  6. Using mathematics to solve problems.
  7. Installing equipment, machines, wiring, or programs to meet specifications.
  8. Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
  9. Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  10. Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.

Knowledge

Note: The technical and functional knowledge statements listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Aircraft Mechanics commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the knowledge listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

The Knowledge of:

Machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.

Practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.

Abilities

Note: The technical and functional abilities listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Aircraft Mechanics commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the abilities listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

The Ability to:

  1. Quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
  2. Keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
  3. Apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  4. Quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
  5. Make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
  6. See details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  7. Arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  8. Tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  9. Imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
  10. Coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.

Tasks

Note:  The following is a list of sample tasks typically performed by Aircraft Mechanics.  Employees in this occupation will not necessarily perform all of the tasks listed. 

  1. Adjusts, aligns, and calibrates aircraft systems, using hand tools, gauges, and test equipment.
  2. Examines and inspects engines or other components for cracks, breaks, or leaks.
  3. Disassembles and inspects parts for wear, warping, or other defects.
  4. Assembles and installs electrical, plumbing, mechanical, hydraulic, and structural components and accessories, using hand tools and power tools.
  5. Services and maintains aircraft systems by performing tasks, such as flushing crankcase, cleaning screens, greasing moving parts, and checking brakes.
  6. Repairs, replaces, and rebuilds aircraft structures, functional components, and parts, such as wings and fuselage, rigging, and hydraulic units.
  7. Tests engine and system operations, using testing equipment, and listens to engine sounds to detect and diagnose malfunctions.
  8. Removes engine from aircraft or installs engine, using hoist or forklift truck.
  9. Modifies aircraft structures, space vehicles, systems, or components, following drawings, engineering orders and technical publications.
  10. Reads and interprets aircraft maintenance manuals and specifications to determine feasibility and method of repairing or replacing malfunctioning or damaged components.

INTERESTED?

Like people, occupations have traits or characteristics.  These characteristics give important clues about the nature of the work and work environment, and give you an opportunity to match your own personal interests to a specific occupation.  When you choose a job in an occupation that matches your own interests you have taken an important step in planning a successful and rewarding career.

The occupation of Aircraft Mechanics has Realistic characteristics as described below:

Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

LICENSURE, REGISTRATION, OR CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

FAA requires a certificate for Aircraft Mechanic positions in state government.

The FAA requires at least 18 months of work experience for an airframe, powerplant, or avionics repairer’s certificate. For a combined A & P certificate, at least 30 months of experience working with both engines and airframes is required. Completion of a program at a FAA-certified mechanic school can substitute for the work experience requirement. Applicants for all certificates also must pass written and oral tests and demonstrate that they can do the work authorized by the certificate. To obtain an inspector’s authorization, a mechanic must have held an A & P certificate for at least 3 years. Most airlines require that mechanics have a high school diploma and an A & P certificate.

FAA regulations require current experience to keep the A & P certificate valid. Applicants must have at least 1,000 hours of work experience in the previous 24 months or take a refresher course.

EDUCATIONAL, TRAINING, AND LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES 

The Department of Labor provides the following information:

To keep aircraft in peak operating condition, aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and service technicians perform scheduled maintenance, make repairs, and complete inspections required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Many aircraft mechanics, also called airframe, powerplant, and avionics aviation maintenance technicians, specialize in preventive maintenance. They inspect engines, landing gear, instruments, pressurized sections, accessories—brakes, valves, pumps, and air-conditioning systems, for example—and other parts of the aircraft, and do the necessary maintenance and replacement of parts.

Some mechanics work on one or many different types of aircraft, such as jets, propeller-driven airplanes, and helicopters. Others specialize in one section of a particular type of aircraft, such as the engine, hydraulics, or electrical system. Powerplant mechanics are authorized to work on engines and do limited work on propellers. Airframe mechanics are authorized to work on any part of the aircraft except the instruments, powerplants, and propellers. Combination airframe-and-powerplant mechanics—called A & P mechanics—work on all parts of the plane, except instruments. The majority of mechanics working on civilian aircraft today are A & P mechanics. In small, independent repair shops, mechanics usually inspect and repair many different types of aircraft.

The majority of mechanics who work on civilian aircraft are certified by the FAA as “airframe mechanic,” “powerplant mechanic,” or “avionics repair specialist.” Mechanics who also have an inspector’s authorization can certify work completed by other mechanics and perform required inspections. Uncertified mechanics are supervised by those with certificates.

Most airlines require that mechanics have a high school diploma and an A & P certificate.

Although a few people become mechanics through on-the-job training, most learn their job in 1 of about 200 trade schools certified by the FAA. About one-third of these schools award 2- and 4-year degrees in avionics, aviation technology, or aviation maintenance management.

FAA standards established by law require that certified mechanic schools offer students a minimum of 1,900 actual class hours. Coursework in these trade schools normally lasts from 24 to 30 months and provides training with the tools and equipment used on the job.

Some aircraft mechanics in the Armed Forces acquire enough general experience to satisfy the work experience requirements for the FAA certificate. With additional study, they may pass the certifying exam. In general, however, jobs in the military services are too specialized to provide the broad experience required by the FAA.

As new and more complex aircraft are designed, more employers are requiring mechanics to take ongoing training to update their skills. Recent technological advances in aircraft maintenance necessitate a strong background in electronics—both for acquiring and retaining jobs in this field. FAA certification standards also make ongoing training mandatory.

As aircraft mechanics gain experience, they may advance to lead mechanic (or crew chief), inspector, lead inspector, or shop supervisor positions. Opportunities are best for those who have an aircraft inspector’s authorization. In the airlines, where promotion often is determined by examination, supervisors sometimes advance to executive positions. Those with broad experience in maintenance and overhaul might become inspectors with the FAA. With additional business and management training, some open their own aircraft maintenance facilities. Mechanics learn many different skills in their training that can be applied to other jobs, and some transfer to other skilled repairer occupations or electronics technician jobs.

The State Council of Higher Education lists Hampton University as a Virginia educational institution offering certificate programs for Aviation Maintenance Technician in both airframe and powerplant.

COMMONWEALTH COMPETENCIES

Competencies are a set of identified behaviors, knowledge, skills, and abilities that directly and positively impact the success of employees and the organization. Competencies can be observed and measured.  When consistently demonstrated, competencies make employees particularly effective in their work.  Competencies help lay out a road map to career success.  You can use the Commonwealth Competencies to help improve your individual performance by adopting behaviors that make high performing employees successful in their jobs. In this way, you can use the Commonwealth Competencies for your further professional development.

The Commonwealth Competencies are:

  1. Technical and Functional Expertise
  2. Understanding the Business     
  3. Achieving Results
  4. Serving the Customer
  5. Teamwork
  6. Interpersonal and Communication Skills
  7. Leadership and Personal Effectiveness

The above competencies may be applied to employees throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.  They can be rank-ordered by agencies and hiring managers to represent the needs of a specific job.  The rank ordering will change depending upon the occupation, an organization's priorities, the actual job requirements, and the supervisor's preferences. 

Career success is both about what you do (applying your technical knowledge, skills, and ability) and how you do it (the consistent behaviors you demonstrate and choose to use) while interacting and communicating with others.  Hopefully, by studying the Commonwealth competencies, identifying your developmental opportunities, and working to refine your own competence, you can take charge of your career!

For additional information about the Commonwealth Competencies go to: http://jobs.state.va.us/cc_planningctr.htm.  For the competencies, we first list the competencies and then define each.  Finally, we list competency indicators; to describe what successful performance looks like.  

COMMONWEALTH CAREER PATH

Career opportunities in the Commonwealth are not limited to moving “up” to the next highest role and pay band, changing positions, or to becoming a supervisor.  That’s because most roles describe a broad group of occupationally related positions that perform a range of work that requires increased knowledge and skills.  For that reason, Commonwealth roles describe the career paths within the same or higher-level role for the same or different Career Group.  The broad salary range and the Commonwealth’s pay practices provide flexibility in recognizing career development and advancement. (Salary Structure)

For example: Aircraft Mechanic

PAY BAND

PRACTITIONER ROLES

PAY BAND

MANAGER ROLES

3

Equipment Service and Repair

 Technician I

4

Equipment Service and Repair Manager I

4

Equipment Service and Repair

 Technician II

5

Equipment Service and Repair Manager II

Sample Career Path

Equipment Service and Repair Technician I

The Equipment Service and Repair Technician I role provides a career path for service and repair technicians performing entry level responsibilities to first line working supervisory responsibilities. Duties include manually labor intensive work that involves the service and repair of mechanical, electronic, and other equipment requiring technical knowledge and expertise, effective diagnostic and repair techniques and procedures related to a wide variety of equipment.

Equipment Service and Repair Technician II

The Equipment Service and Repair Technician II role provides a career path for the equipment service and repair technicians with an advanced skilled level requiring technical expertise in specialized equipment repair and may require expertise in instruction of equipment users and knowledge of supervisory practices. Duties involve the service and repair of complex and specialized mechanical, electronic, and other equipment, such as watercrafts or aircraft.

Equipment Service and Repair Manager I

The Equipment Service and Repair Manager I role is for managers responsible for supervising and managing work in the field of equipment repair. Employees provide the full range of supervision to work crews, plan and prioritize work, and maintain appropriate records.

Equipment Service and Repair Manager II

The Equipment Service and Repair Manager II role provides a career track for managers responsible for performing, supervising, and managing maintenance and repair work of unusual technical difficulty. Employees provide the full range of supervision to technicians or contractual service providers, plan, prioritize work and evaluate, may conduct pre-flight inspections, and maintain appropriate records.

ADDITIONAL OCCUPATIONAL INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: 

O*NET (Occupational Information Network) 

http://online.onetcenter.org/gen_search_page

Virginia Employment Commission 

http://www.alex.vec.state.va.us/

Career One Stop

http://www.careeronestop.org/

Virginia Career Resource Network

 http://www.vacrn.net/

Professional Aviation Maintenance Association

 http://www.pama.org