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What Is an Aircraft Power Plant?

Aircraft power plants are essentially engines, and they help airplanes and helicopters get off the ground. Those who work on these engines are known as aircraft power plant mechanics. Becoming an aircraft power plant mechanic requires specialized training.

Aircraft Power Plant Overview

In simple terms, an aircraft power plant is an engine. It is made up of many components, such as cylinders, pistons, and fans, which help produce the energy needed to propel an aircraft. The power plant may be a jet engine or a combination of propellers and an engine. Additionally, there are numerous types of engines for a variety of aircraft, such as helicopters or commercial jets. Jet engines are typically one of the more common types of aircraft power plant.

Important Facts About This Field

Median Salary (2018) $62,920 (for aircraft mechanics and service technicians)
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 5% growth (for aircraft mechanics and service technicians)
Similar Occupations Automotive service technician, electro-mechanical technician, aerospace engineer
Key Skills Troubleshooting, dexterity, detail oriented, and observational skills

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Training Opportunities

If you're interested in working in the field of aircraft power plant maintenance, there are a few ways to gain the necessary training. Technical and vocational colleges offer certificate and degree programs in aircraft power plant maintenance. Another avenue for training in this field is through the U.S. military.

Certificate and Degree Programs

Some of the most common college programs are associate's degree or certificate programs in aircraft power plant maintenance technology, although bachelor's degree programs in aviation maintenance are also available. It's important to enroll in a program that has been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Completing an associate's degree or certificate program can lead to you taking the FAA power plant certificate. Coursework within these programs includes aircraft drawing, welding, science, and maintenance. You may also complete advanced practical experience working with power plant ignition and electrical systems. Entering into a bachelor's degree commonly requires holding the FAA certificate.

Military Programs

The U.S. military is another way to gain training in aircraft power plant maintenance. For instance, the U.S. Army provides advanced individual training (AIT) as an aircraft power plant repairer. You complete nine weeks of basic soldier training and then move into 18 weeks of hands-on and in-class instruction. Your AIT prepares you for inspecting and repairing aircraft equipment, such as electrical systems and airframes, and disassembling and repairing engines.

FAA Certificate

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the FAA requires that only certified mechanics perform work on an aircraft (www.bls.gov). Those without FAA certification must perform work under the supervision of a certified mechanic. To obtain a FAA certificate, you must complete the necessary training, and take and pass an oral and practical exam. The certificate exams take approximately eight hours to complete and test on 43 mechanical-related topics.