Despite many not believing it, for reasons of their own; flying is often considered to be the safest way to travel. And as much credit goes to the pilots and air traffic controllers as it goes to the aviation mechanics, in whose hands lies the safety of the passengers and crew, and not to forget, the millions of dollars worth of aircraft. Even an A-grade pilot can’t save the day if the aircraft takes off with a flaw that has not been unflawed by the mechanics behind it. Right from routine maintenance to timely inspection and repairs of the aircraft’s engine, instruments, landing gear, brakes, air conditioning, pumps, valves etc, falls in the hands of the aviation mechanic’s mechanical skills and technical finesse. It calls for a high threshold to work under pressure and for longer hours; involving both, requirement for physical and mental activity to get all the maintenance and repair work completed before the timeline.
Becoming An Aviation Mechanic
Almost all countries demand minimum 17-18 years of age and a high school diploma as fulfillment to qualify for the further criteria for selection for an aviation mechanic course. The candidate should be able to read, write, speak, and understand English. In US, the candidate needs to have a high school diploma and 18 months of practical experience with either the power plants or airframes, or 30 months of practical experience working on both at the same time. After that the candidate needs to present the experience proof to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and must pass one written, one oral, and one practical examination in order to obtain the a certification from FAA. In India, those who’ve cleared the senior secondary examinations with minimum 50% in physics, chemistry, and mathematics or those who hold Bachelor in Science degree in graduation can apply to train in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering.
Every country offers an aviation engineering course of its own. In US, if the candidate is fresh and lacks on-field experience, he/she can choose to graduate from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) - US approved aviation maintenance technician schools. The FAA approved schools provide minimum 1900 class hours and 2 to 4 years of degrees in avionics, aviation management, and aviation technology. In India, the aspirants can choose to pursue aeronautical engineering from the graduation level to post gradation level (B. Tech to M. Tech degree programs in Aeronautical Engineering) or by going through a three year training program in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering (AME), on completion of which, a certificate is issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
You can’t expect to wake up one fine morning and decide that “I’ll be an aviation mechanic”. You need to have that zing towards aircrafts and their engineering. It should fascinate you more than anything else. Apart from this, you need to have a strong background in electronics and must constantly try to update and upgrade yourself to the technological advances in the field. The field also demands for ability and much needed patience to work under pressure and do overtime. However, if planes are your first love and you are captivated by their sleek designing and ginormous appearance, the work pressure and focused attention towards work will not be a problem at all.
Roles and Responsibilities
Aviation mechanics are responsible for inspecting the engines, instruments, landing gear, pressurized areas, accessories like brakes, air-conditioning, pumps, valves, and other parts of the aircraft and undertaking timely maintenance by repairing or replacing any part if necessary. They also have a responsibility of conducting a detailed inspection between every flight of a particular aircraft and inspecting planes that land on the airport before taking off for further. Apart from this, they also need to record and maintain all maintenance records of all aircrafts they handle. Details include – the amount of hours an aircraft has been in flight, number of days since last inspection, operation cycles, and various other aspects. They also need to pay heeds to the problems described by the pilots and get the aircraft ready on a timely basis. All aviation mechanics have a very important responsibility in trying to stay up to date with all the technological advances in their field in order to provide with their best.
With an ever shrinking world and increasing number of air travelers, it is no surprise that the employment in aviation mechanism has been touted to increase 10% by the year 2016. Those who have a formal training in the field or are undergoing training can expect favorable job prospects. Regular retirements or change of field will further lead to job openings. And apart from an average salary of $60000-$80000, the aviation mechanics also receive special perks for the efforts they put in.
Aviation mechanism will prove to be a defining career, if you are motivated, hard-working, can cope well under pressure, have a high mechanical ability, and profound fascination for these giant flying machines. Go, give wings to your career!