Aircraft Powerplant Maintenance

Aircraft powerplant maintenance professionals keep airplanes and other airborne machines in safe and efficient operating condition. Read on to learn more about certification and education requirements for aircraft power maintenance pros, as well as how much you can earn in the field.

Is Aircraft Powerplant Maintenance Right for Me?

Career Overview

The aircraft maintenance field employs people with special skills and licensing that authorizes them to repair different types of aircraft. Aircraft powerplant mechanics in particular perform maintenance work on the propellers and engines of airplanes. They may work for government agencies or in the airline, aircraft servicing and aircraft manufacturing industries. A high degree of mechanical ability is usually required to work in the field; manual dexterity and above-average computer skills are also essential.

Most work is performed according to a tight flight and maintenance schedule; maintenance issues and repairs must also be documented. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), full-time aircraft mechanics experience higher than average work-related injuries (www.bls.gov).

Career Options and Duties

As a qualified technician, you may pursue a career as a certified airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanic or an aircraft mechanic. A&P mechanics are authorized to work on each part of an airplane, and their duties can include inspecting landing gear, engines, brakes and other systems for signs of wear and tear. In this position, you'd also replace or repair parts that are broken and conduct follow-up tests.

Powerplant mechanics can only work on engines and perform limited maintenance on propellers. If you pursue a career as a powerplant mechanic, you'll inspect engines and propellers to ensure they are functioning properly. You'll also test and repair ignitions and starters, conduct cooling and exhaust inspections and perform work on fuel systems.

Employment and Salary Information

As reported by the BLS, aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and service technicians can expect little or no change in job openings between 2012 and 2022. As of May 2013, aircraft mechanics and service technicians reported median annual earnings of $55,980 (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Aircraft Powerplant Maintenance?

Education

Most aircraft powerplant employees enter the field with a postsecondary education, which can last from 12-24 months, according to the BLS. Entry-level opportunities are available after the completion of a certificate or associate's degree program.

The core curriculum of an avionics degree program includes courses in aviation mathematics, aircraft propellers, turbine engine overhaul, electricity and ground operations. You can also pursue an associate's degree in aircraft mechanics. The core courses for aircraft mechanics programs include fuel metering, aviation science, powerplant systems and reciprocating engines.

Certification

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that airplane mechanics obtain certification, unless working under the direct supervision of a certified employee. Many technicians entering the field obtain certification as A&P mechanics; however, you can also pursue powerplant certification on its own.

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