Aircraft maintenance

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Field maintenance on a Cessna 172 being conducted from a van used to carry tools and parts
A Panavia Tornado undergoing maintenance

Aircraft maintenance is the overhaul, repair, inspection or modification of an aircraft or aircraft component.[1]

Maintenance may include such tasks as ensuring compliance with Airworthiness Directives or Service Bulletins.[2] The maintenance of aircraft is highly regulated, in order to ensure safe and correct functioning during flight. National regulations are coordinated under international standards, maintained by bodies such as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The maintenance tasks, personnel and inspections are all tightly regulated and staff must be licensed for the tasks they carry out.

The Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul (MRO) Market was US$135.1 Billion in 2015, three quarters of the $180.3 B aircraft production market. Of this, 60% is for civil aviation : air transport 48%, business and general aviation 9%, rotorcraft 3% ; and military aviation is 40% : fixed wing 27% and rotary 13%. Of the $64.3 Billion air transport MRO market, 40% is for engines, 22% for components, 17% for line, 14% for airframe and 7% for modifications. Its is projected to grow at 4.1% per annum till 2025 to $96B.[3]


Aircraft maintenance is highly regulated, because the smallest slip can lead to an aircraft crashing with consequent loss of life. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) sets global standards which are then implemented by national and regional bodies around the world.

Local airworthiness authorities include:


The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) defines the licensed role of aircraft maintenance (technician/engineer/mechanic), noting that "The terms in brackets are given as acceptable additions to the title of the license. Each Contracting State is expected to use in its own regulations the one it prefers."[4] Thus, aircraft maintenance technicians, engineers and mechanics all perform essentially the same role. However different countries use these terms in different ways to define their individual levels of qualification and responsibilities.

Recognised licenses for aircraft maintenance personnel include:

European authorities[edit]

Aircraft maintenance personnel 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.

Checks and inspections[edit]

Routine checks[edit]

Aircraft maintenance checks are periodic inspections that have to be done on all commercial/civil aircraft after a certain amount of time or usage.

Airworthiness release[edit]

At the completion of any maintenance task a person authorized by the national airworthiness authority signs a release stating that maintenance has been performed in accordance with the applicable airworthiness requirements. In the case of a certified aircraft this may be an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer or Aircraft Maintenance Technician, while for amateur-built aircraft this may be the owner or builder of the aircraft.[5]

Automated inspection[edit]

Automated aircraft inspection systems have the potential to make aircraft maintenance safer and more reliable.[6] Various solutions are currently developed: a collaborative mobile robot named Air-Cobot,[7][8] and drones.[9][10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Transport Canada (May 2012). "Canadian Aviation Regulations 2008-1, Part I - General Provisions, Subpart 1 - Interpretation". Archived from the original on 27 December 2012. Retrieved 9 December 2012. 
  2. ^ Transport Canada (March 2002). "Canadian Aviation Regulations 2008-1, Part V - Airworthiness, Standard 593 - Airworthiness Directives". Retrieved 9 December 2012. 
  3. ^ Kevin Michaels (April 28, 2016). "MRO Industry Outlook" (PDF). ICF International. 
  4. ^ ICAO; Doc 7300, Convention on International Civil Aviation (also referred to as the Chicago Convention), 9th Edn. (2006), Annex 1, Chapter 4. Licenses and ratings for personnel other than flight crew members.
  5. ^ Transport Canada (June 2003). "Canadian Aviation Regulations 2008-1, Part V - Airworthiness , Subpart 71 - Aircraft Maintenance Requirements, Maintenance Release". Retrieved 9 December 2012. 
  6. ^ "Robots in the hangar". November 23, 2015. Retrieved May 20, 2016. 
  7. ^ Jovancevic, Igor; Larnier, Stanislas; Orteu, Jean-José; Sentenac, Thierry (November 2015). "Automated exterior inspection of an aircraft with a pan-tilt-zoom camera mounted on a mobile robot". Journal of Electronic Imaging. 24 (6). 
  8. ^ I. Jovancevic, I. Viana, T. Sentenac, J.J. Orteu and S. Larnier, Matching CAD model and images features for robot navigation and inspection of an aircraft, International Conference on Pattern Recognition Applications and Methods, pp. 359-366, February 2016.
  9. ^ "Donecle - lightning fast aircraft inspections". Retrieved May 20, 2016. 
  10. ^ "EasyJet's Using Drones to Check Planes for Lightning Damage". Retrieved May 20, 2016. 

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