Powerplant and Airframe mechanics (A&Ps) tune, repair, replace, or upgrade aircraft engines, otherwise known as powerplants. They also perform inspections on a needed basis as well as regular intervals within the lifespan of an engine. These mechanics search for problems, but they also perform a long list of preventative maintenance and service. The FAA has strict rules about the care and maintenance of aircraft. At pre-determined times, airframe and powerplant mechanics perform certain work whether it is needed or not. This helps to ensure that the aircraft are safe to operate and unlikely to experience in-flight failures or other problems. The scope of work performed by airframe and powerplant mechanics is extremely wide due to the variations and complexities of aircraft flying today. Also, as more fuel-efficient aircraft come online, and composite materials are increasingly used in new designs, the duties of airframe and powerplant mechanics will continue to expand. Some A&Ps are trained to troubleshoot avionics equipment, but that is usually considered a separate specialty.
Many find the challenge of working as an A&P to be reward in itself. Working in the airlines industry is exciting, and many enjoy working behind the scenes.
Airframe and powerplant mechanics have one of the most challenging jobs in the aviation industry. To maintain the maximum performance and safety of aircraft, a mechanic must be knowledgeable and good at their job. The technical expertise required of a mechanic cannot be underestimated. New technologies are constantly being developed in the manufacturing and design of modern aircraft, which means that a good mechanic must adapt and learn new skills all the time.
The FAA and Transport Canada do not require that a mechanic be licensed in order to work on an aircraft, but someone who does have the necessary license or certification must then supervise that work. The more certifications that a mechanic has, the more in demand he or she will be. Certification requires previous experience and/or technical training. If the mechanic then passes the FAA or Transport Canada’s written, oral, and practical exam, they’ll receive certification in those areas such as airframe or powerplant repair.
A natural mechanical ability and attention to detail are desired skills. Because of the technical nature of the work, even unlicensed mechanics should have at minimum a high school and preferably a vocational school diploma as well. A good understanding and familiarity with the tools used in aviation mechanics is also preferred.
There are several training options for becoming an airframe or powerplant mechanic. One is to be an apprentice mechanic with an aviation repair company or airline and learn on the job. A faster method is to take airframe or powerplant courses at an FAA or Transport Canada certified school. The third option is to enlist in the military as an aircraft mechanic which then requires only minimal additional study to qualify for a civilian mechanic’s job.
Salary and Benefits
Benefits may include paid vacation and holidays, insurance, retirement plan, discounted or free airfares.