Aircraft maintenance technician
||The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (December 2010)|
|Aircraft maintenance technician|
Israel Air Force F-15 fighter jet maintenance technician
Aircraft maintenance technician, as used in the United States, refers to an individual who holds a mechanic certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration; the rules for certification, and for certificate-holders, are detailed in Subpart D of Part 65 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs), which are part of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Aircraft Maintenance Technicians (AMTs) inspect and perform or supervise maintenance, preventive maintenance, and alteration of aircraft and aircraft systems. In the US, aircraft maintenance technicians usually refer to themselves as A&Ps, for airframe and power plant mechanics. They may hold either one or both certificates.
In Canada the equivalent of an FAA "A&P with an Inspection authorization" is "aircraft maintenance engineer" (AME). The British equivalent of an FAA "A&P" is aircraft maintenance engineer and the British equivalent of an FAA "A&P with an inspection authorization" is "licensed aircraft maintenance engineer" (L-AME) or "AME - licensed with type rating" (AME-LWTR). The UK system also defines aircraft type endorsements and differentiations for the level and scope of work including "line maintenance", "overhaul" and "base maintenance". In Australia and New Zealand the equivalent of an FAA "A&P" is "aircraft maintenance engineer" and the equivalent of an FAA "A&P with an inspection authorization" is "licensed aircraft maintenance engineer".
The general requirements for eligibility for a mechanic certificate include the following:
- Be 18 or older;
- Be able to read, speak, and understand English fluently;
- Meet the experience or educational requirement; and
- Pass a set of required tests within a maximum of 24 months.
The required tests include, first, a set of knowledge tests; these are followed by a practical test, which includes an oral examination component, and which is administered by a Designated Mechanic Examiner (DME).
A person who fulfills the necessary requirements is issued a mechanic certificate with either an airframe or powerplant rating, or both. It is these ratings which together account for the common practice of referring to mechanics as "A&Ps." Until 1952, instead of the Powerplant rating, an Engine rating was issued, so the abbreviation "A&E" may appear in older documents.
Eligibility for the mechanic tests depends on the applicant's ability to document their knowledge of required subject matter and ability to perform maintenance tasks. The FAA recognizes two ways of demonstrating the needed knowledge and skills: Practical experience or completion of a training program at a school certificated under Part 147 of the FARs.
The Professional Aviation Maintenance Association and SAE Institute provide a number of certifications for aircraft mechanics.
Aviation maintenance specialist (AMS) – This certification enables non-FAA certificated technicians and interested non-maintenance aviation personnel to show proficiency in a critical body of knowledge regarding aviation maintenance.
Aviation maintenance engineer (AME) – This certification validates core knowledge for FAA certificated Airframe and Powerplant Mechanics.
The AMTSociety presents the Maintenance Skills Competition annually, which recognizes top AMT teams across all aviation including commercial and military.
Applications based on experience
Applicants for a Mechanic certificate with a single rating—either airframe or powerplant—and who base their application on practical experience must demonstrate 18 months of work experience applicable to the chosen rating. Those applying for both ratings must show a total of 30 months of applicable experience. Many military-trained aircraft mechanics are eligible to use their work experience as the basis for an application for a civilian mechanic certificate.
Applications based on education
Applicants who attend an Aviation Maintenance School program certificated under Part 147 study an FAA-approved and supervised curriculum. Those applying for a Mechanic certificate with a single rating—either Airframe or Powerplant—study a "general" set of subjects for at least 400 hours, as well as at least 750 hours of material appropriate to the chosen rating, for a total of 1,150 hours. Those who pursue both ratings study the "general" material, as well as the 750 hours for each rating, for a total of at least 1,900 hours. Completion of such a program of study typically requires between 18 and 24 months.
Required areas of study in the "general" curriculum include electricity, technical drawings, weight and balance, hydraulics and pneumatics, ground operation of aircraft, cleaning and corrosion control, basic mathematical calculations, forms and record-keeping, basic physics, maintenance manuals and publications, and applicable federal regulations. Thorough knowledge of FAA rules and regulations (especially with regard to accepted repair/modification procedures) is also expected of A&P mechanics.
Required areas of study in the airframe curriculum include inspection, structures—wood, sheet metal, composite—and fasteners, covering, finishes, welding, assembly and rigging, hydraulics, pneumatics, cabin atmosphere control systems, instrument systems, communication and navigation systems, fuel systems, electrical systems, position and warning systems, ice and rain control systems, and fire protection systems.
Required areas of study in the powerplant curriculum include inspection, reciprocating and turbine engine theory and repair, instrument systems, fire protection systems, electrical systems, lubrication systems, ignition and starting systems, fuel metering systems, fuel systems, induction and airflow systems, cooling systems, exhaust and reverser systems, propellers, unducted fans, and auxiliary power units.
Some AMTs, after at least three years of working in their field, choose to acquire an inspection authorization (IA), which is an additional rating added on to the individual's mechanic certificate. These individuals are allowed to perform annual inspections on aircraft and sign off for return to service on major repairs and alterations on the required block of the FAA form 337. Certification and limitations, including renewal requirements, of mechanics with inspection authorization is contained in 14 CFR Part 65.
The requirements for obtaining an inspection authorization is that the AMT must be licensed for a minimum of three years and actively exercising the rights of an A&P for the two years prior to the date that the IA examination is to be taken.
Renewal of the IA rating must be done every two years (on odd years) by submitting to the FAA a form showing a minimum of activity in which the IA exercised his or her authority. This activity comprises either annual inspections, major repairs, major alterations, or a minimum of 8 hours of FAA approved training. This activity must be accomplished every 12 months even though the renewal period is every 24 months.
Aircraft maintenance technicians in Europe must comply with Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) Part 66, Certifying Staff, issued by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
AMC Part 66 is based on Joint Aviation Regulations (JAR) promulgated by the Joint Aviation Authorities and on Air Transport Association (ATA) Specification 104. There are four levels of authorization:
- Level 1: General Familiarisation, Unlicensed
- Level 2: Ramp and Transit, Category A
- can only certify own work performed for tasks which he/she has received documented training
- Level 3: Line Certifying Staff and Base Maintenance Supporting Staff, Category B1 (electromechanic) and/or B2(Avionics)
- can certify all work performed on an aircraft/engine for which he/she is type rated excluding base maintenance(generally up to and including A-Check)
- Level 4: Base Maintenance Certifying Staff, Category C
- can certify all work performed on an aircraft/engine for which he/she is type rated, but only if it is base maintenance (additional level-3 staff necessary)
- this authorization does automatically not include any level 2 or level 3 license.
- Aircraft maintenance
- Aircraft maintenance engineer
- Aircraft maintenance engineer (Canada)
- Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award
- Federal Aviation Administration. "Subpart D—Mechanics". Part 65—Certification: Airmen Other Than Flight Crewmembers. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
- Federal Aviation Administration. "65.71 Eligibility requirements: General". Part 65—Certification: Airmen Other Than Flight Crewmembers. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
- Federal Aviation Administration. "65.73 Ratings". Part 65—Certification: Airmen Other Than Flight Crewmembers. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
- Federal Aviation Administration. "65.75 Knowledge requirements". Part 65—Certification: Airmen Other Than Flight Crewmembers. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
- Federal Aviation Administration. "65.79 Skill requirements". Part 65—Certification: Airmen Other Than Flight Crewmembers. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
- Federal Aviation Administration. "65.77 Experience requirements". Part 65—Certification: Airmen Other Than Flight Crewmembers. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
- "Air Force Airframe and Power Plant (A & P) Certification Program". Community College of the Air Force. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
- Federal Aviation Administration. "147.21 General curriculum requirements". Part 147—Aviation Maintenance Technician Schools. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
- Federal Aviation Administration. "Appendix B to Part 147—General curriculum subjects". Part 147—Aviation Maintenance Technician Schools. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
- Federal Aviation Administration. "Appendix C to Part 147—Airframe curriculum subjects". Part 147—Aviation Maintenance Technician Schools. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
- Federal Aviation Administration. "Appendix D to Part 147—Powerplant curriculum subjects". Part 147—Aviation Maintenance Technician Schools. Retrieved 2008-03-04.