Airframe and Aircraft Maintenance
Airframe and aircraft maintenance professionals repair or replace aircraft parts, including hydraulic units, control cables and structural fittings. Find information about technical education requirements here, as well as earnings and employment potential for airframe and aircraft maintenance pros.
Is Airframe and Aircraft Maintenance for Me?
As an airframe and aircraft maintenance technician, you'll use your knowledge of aviation technology to repair, maintain, modify and overhaul aircraft according to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations. Once you qualify for a position, you'll spend most of your time in an airplane hangar or on the flight line where planes are parked. If you're employed by a major airline, you may also spend a considerable amount of time in a repair station.
After you've completed your training, you may work as an aviation technician for a major airport, commuter airline or aircraft manufacturer. Once you've acquired some experience in the field, you may also qualify for a position as a lead mechanic, director of maintenance or shop foreman.
Employment and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), minimal change in employment was expected for aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians nationwide from 2012-2022. In May 2013, the average annual wage for aircraft mechanics and service technicians was $57,610, while avionics technicians earned an average of $56,940 (www.bls.gov).
How Can I Work in Airframe and Aircraft Maintenance?
The FAA has certified over 170 schools that provide training for aircraft equipment mechanics and service technicians. In general, a degree program in aircraft mechanics includes courses in chemistry, physics, computer science and math, as well as instruction in mechanical drawing. Program emphasis is usually on turbine engines and aviation electronics. Associate and bachelor's degree programs in aviation maintenance technology are also available and cover topics in aircraft fundamentals, ground operations, corrosion control and mechanical troubleshooting. You can receive on-the-job training through the military, but you'll still have to pass a series of exams that are designed to test your knowledge of 43 different technical subjects related to the field.
Required Knowledge and Skills
As an airframe and aircraft maintenance technician, you should be able to operate power tools and advanced equipment. The ability to lift objects in excess of 70 pounds and tolerate high noise levels is also required.
According to the BLS, while aircraft mechanics and avionics equipment technicians do not need to be certified or licensed, a formal credential can lead to higher earnings and enhanced employment opportunities. However, the FAA does specify that all aircraft maintenance activities must be performed by, or take place under the direction of, a certified mechanic. The standards set forth by the FAA include a minimum of 1,900 of classroom instruction, which can take 12-24 months to complete. A passing score on oral, written and practical exams is also required. In order to keep your certificate valid, you'll need to complete 1,000 hours of work every 24 months or a refresher course on aviation principles and technology.