Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians repair and perform scheduled maintenance on airplanes and helicopters. They also inspect airplanes and helicopters as required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Aircraft mechanics typically do the following:
Avionics technicians typically do the following:
Today’s airplanes are highly complex machines that require reliable parts and service to fly safely. To keep an airplane in peak operating condition, aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians do scheduled maintenance, make repairs, and complete inspections.
Some mechanics work on 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 of a jet. In small, independent repair shops, mechanics usually inspect and repair many different types of aircraft.
Most mechanics who work on civilian aircraft have the FAA’s Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) certificate. Mechanics who have this certificate are authorized to work on any part of the aircraft, except electronic flight instruments. Maintaining a plane’s electronic flight instruments is the job of avionics technicians.
The following are types of aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians:
Maintenance mechanics specialize in preventive maintenance and inspect aircraft. Every aircraft must be inspected regularly. The schedule for inspection may be based on hours flown, days since the last inspection, trips flown, or a combination of these factors.
Maintenance mechanics inspect aircraft engines, landing gear, instruments, brakes, air conditioning systems, and other parts. They use precision instruments to measure wear and replace worn out parts.
They inspect a plane’s exterior and repair metal sheets. They may use x rays and magnetic inspection equipment to check for cracks that can't be seen. They check for corrosion, distortion, and cracks in the aircraft's main body, wings, and tail.
In planes equipped with aircraft monitoring systems, mechanics can gather valuable diagnostic information from electronic consoles. After completing all repairs, mechanics must test the equipment to ensure that it works properly. Mechanics also must keep records of all maintenance that they do on an aircraft.
Repair mechanics specialize in repair work rather than inspection. They find and fix problems that pilots describe. For example, during a preflight check, a pilot may discover that the aircraft's fuel gauge is not working. Mechanics must figure out the problem and replace any defective electrical parts. They must work as fast as safety permits so that the aircraft can be put back into service quickly.
Avionic technicians repair and maintain a plane’s electronic systems, such as radio communications, radar systems, and flight instruments. As the use of automated technology increases, more time is spent maintaining a plane’s computer systems. Technicians are often needed to analyze and solve complex electronic problems.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition