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Aviation Maintenance Technician

What They Do

Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians Career Video

Insider Info

Aircraft maintenance technicians perform routine maintenance and repair work on aircraft. The work involves preparing planes for flight and performing required maintenance to keep them flying safely.

They service, repair and overhaul various parts of the airplane, including airframes, engines, electrical and hydraulic systems, propellers and aircraft instruments.

The job title of aviation maintenance technician is relatively new to the industry. Previously, people who worked on airplane repairs were either licensed mechanics and engineers, or unlicensed aircraft maintenance workers and apprentices.

Certified aviation maintenance technicians do repair work, but aren't licensed to inspect airplanes. The inspection is done by aviation maintenance engineers and mechanics. Additional training is required for these positions.

Maintenance technicians can do all kinds of repair work or can specialize in a few areas. "My job entails all aspects of maintenance, repair and overhaul work of helicopters, but excludes avionics," says technician Tom Seagrave.

Technicians may work on commercial passenger carriers or for freight carriers. They could also work for small airports, where they work on private planes, or for the military. Most work for major airlines or for general aviation companies. "This is the best money," says aviation technician Brad Banghart.

Techs who work for airlines generally do routine maintenance work or emergency repairs at the airport terminal. Other duties include major repairs at a separate overhaul base or hangar. Some techs have to travel to perform maintenance on different aircraft.

Technicians working in general aviation do similar repair and maintenance as is done for major airlines, but the equipment they service is usually smaller. General aviation technicians usually work for commuter and regional airlines, for helicopter companies or other small flight companies.

Technology has had a major impact on this field. Maintenance work has changed over the years because of the increasing use of computers in aircraft. Technicians use test equipment, hand and power tools on the job.

Technicians often have to work under pressure because customers and passengers can't be kept waiting. But they can never sacrifice high-quality repair work.

Aviation maintenance technicians generally work a 40-hour week on eight-hour shifts around the clock. "Overtime is common and the hours are flexible," says Seagrave.

This work is physically demanding. Repairing airplanes may mean dangling off a scaffold or climbing into tight, awkward spaces. Heavy tools and parts must also be lifted.

"You need to be able to climb ladders and have correctable eyesight for starters," says Kevin Langley. One aviation authority notes that frequent lifts or pulls up to 50 pounds are required on the job.

Aviation maintenance technicians have to stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl to get into hard-to-reach areas. Good manual dexterity is an asset.

As you can imagine, a hangar full of jets and airplanes is also full of noise. Maintenance technicians also have to work outdoors, whatever the weather, to make emergency repairs.

This is a difficult -- but not impossible -- career for the physically challenged to pursue. "I've seen one student that successfully completed the training and found a job," says Banghart. "It's a very difficult occupation for a physically challenged person, but it can be accomplished."

At a Glance

Service, repair and overhaul airplanes

  • You need an eye for detail
  • Technicians often have to work under pressure
  • Good manual dexterity is an asset


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