Aviation Maintenance

Written by Robert Mac
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Aviation maintenance is crucial for the safety and security of our aircraft. And it's a growing job: the U.S. Department of Labor foresees a need of 315,000 engine specialists and aircraft mechanics in 2005. Plus, the burgeoning field of high-altitude travel--civilian rocket-planes that take people to the very edge of space--will create many new jobs in aviation maintenance in the coming years.

Getting Certified in Aviation Maintenance

To work in the field of aviation maintenance, you must obtain an A & P (Airframe and Powerplant) certification from the FAA; Airframe refers to the frame and structure of aircraft, while Powerplant refers to the engine and related systems. Most FAA-approved schools offer an accelerated program--you can be certified in about 15 months. Slower paced programs (of about two years) are available for working students.

Once certified, you'll be qualified for entry-level positions for the major airlines as well as regional and commuter airlines. There are also numerous maintenance opportunities at repair stations, aerospace subcontractors, airplane (or helicopter) manufacturers, air cargo carriers, and in private aviation. These jobs are in any capacity of plane maintenance, from the hangar floor to the flight line.

Generally, an entry-level mechanic is a junior mechanic; they work under a more experienced employee. Working for a major airline usually means more specialized work on larger aircraft. On the other hand, working for commuter or regional airlines means you'll be doing less specialized work on a larger range of aircraft, usually smaller than those of the major carriers.


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