What Exactly is an Aircraft Maintenance Technician and what do they do?

An aircraft maintenance technician refers to an individual who holds an Airframe and/or Powerplant (A&P) certificate which is issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Just like pilots there are rules for certification and regulations which must be abided by for use of their license. An A&P technician inspects aircraft as well as performs, supervises and conducts preventive maintenance.

How does someone become an A&P?

The FAA requirements for eligibility for a mechanic certificate include the following:

Be 18 or older; Be able to read, speak, and understand English; Meet the experience or educational requirement; and Pass a set of required tests. The required tests include, first, a set of computerized knowledge tests; these are followed by a practical test, which includes an oral examination.

A person who fulfills the necessary requirements is issued a mechanic certificate with either an Airframe or Powerplant rating, or both. An Airframe rating allows a technician to maintain and repair all systems associated with the airframe of the aircraft while a Powerplant rating includes the engines and all associated equipment. It is these ratings which together account for the common practice of referring to mechanics as “A&P’s.”

What do A&P’s need to know?

The good news is an A&P certification covers everything from a hot air balloon to a wide body jumbo jet. Students have the opportunity to study several subjects including: electricity, weight and balance, hydraulics, pneumatics, ground operation of aircraft, cleaning and corrosion control, sheet metal, composites, cabin atmosphere control systems, instrument systems, communication and navigation systems, fuel systems, electrical systems, reciprocating and turbine engine theory and repair, cooling systems, exhaust and reverser systems, propellers and auxiliary power units.

Aviation mechanics are responsible for inspecting the entire aircraft including; engines, instruments, gauges, landing gear, pressurized areas, accessories like brakes, air-conditioning, pumps, valves, among many other things. Mechanics are responsible to fix, maintain or replace parts of the aircraft and these are done to the highest standards. They also conduct detailed inspections between take-offs and landings. Aircraft mechanics and technicians are required to document repairs and maintain all maintenance records of the aircraft they oversee. Details include – the amount of hours an aircraft has been in flight, number of days since the last inspection, operation cycles, and various other aspects. They also need to address and divulge problems or discrepancies described by pilots. All aviation mechanics have a very important responsibility in trying to stay up to date with all the technological advances in their industry. Aircraft mechanics at NAA are taught to live and work by The Mechanic’s Creed.

Next time you see an aircraft maintenance technician walking around your aircraft, as you wait for take-off, remember they are highly trained professionals who keep the world moving.