What is Taught in Aircraft Mechanic Schools

Training Programs for Aircraft Mechanics

A jet engine undergoing maintenance

For aircraft mechanic training, it is assumed you can work with your hands, follow written and oral instructions, and are detail-oriented. You should have an ability to diagnose problems, produce clear reports, and complete work, in a timely manner.

The FAA  allows certification as either an airframe technician or a power plant technician. Except for the power plant, instruments and propellers, an airframe technician can work on any aircraft part. Conversely, an FAA certified power plant technician can work on engines, and some limited propeller work. The FAA also gives out combined airframe and power plant certification (A&P license), such that any licensee can work on any part of an airplane with the exception of the airplane instruments.

To obtain these certifications, you must follow one of two paths. Either (1) work in this area for at least 30 months, or (2) complete a program, typically lasting 18 to 24 months, at an FAA certified airframe and power plant school. The usual curriculum involves both formal classroom instruction combined with practical laboratory instruction, affording the student a mastery and confidence in each subject area.

Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) part 147 defines an Aviation Maintenance Technician School. FAR Part 147 aircraft mechanic schools train students in all the necessary subject areas to allow individuals to pass a certification test for either an airframe maintenance technician or a powerplant maintenance technician, or the combined A & P aviation maintenance technician test.

During a typical one to two years of classroom and practical, hands-on training, students obtain the required practical experience hours to qualify for them for licensing tests. The cost of tuition and other expenses usually amounts to between $20,000 to $30,000. Currently (2011), over 170 schools are approved by the FAA to offer this training.

Here is a listing of the main subject areas taught at a typical FAA approved aviation technology school:

  • Introduction to Aviation
  • Basic Electricity – Airframe Electricity
  • Aviation Math and Science
  • Aircraft Drawings
  • Technical Writing
  • Materials and Processes
  • Aircraft Sheet Metal Structures
  • Aircraft Materials and Processes
  • Aircraft Turbine Engines (and Lab)
  • Aircraft Reciprocating Engines
  • Aviation Technology
  • Federal Aviation Regulations
  • Non-Metallic Structures (and Lab)
  • Metallic Structures (and Lab)
  • Reciprocating Engines (and Lab)
  • Aircraft Pneumatic and Hydraulic Systems
  • Aircraft Landing Gear Systems (and Lab)
  • Aircraft Engine Electrical Systems
  • Aircraft Fuel and Propeller Systems
  • Aircraft Composite Structures
  • Communication/Navigation and Control Systems (and Lab)
  • Ignition and Starting Systems (and Lab)
  • Fuel Metering Systems (and Lab)
  • Airframe Inspection (and Lab)
  • Powerplant Inspection (and Lab)
  • Lubrication Systems and Propellers (and Lab)

Aircraft mechanics must know about welding and working with:

  • sheet metal structures
  • bonding and working with composite airframe or control surface structures
  • aircraft fuel systems
  • air pressure instruments
  • retractable landing gear deployment
  • gyroscopes and flight attitude systems

A student wanting to specialize in airframe training would take a subset of the above curriculum, focusing on the airframe courses listed above. Likewise, a student desiring a specialization in powerplant training would focus on the powerplant focused courses. Usually, by the time of graduation, a student will have completed 1900 hours of classroom instruction.

Separately from the Airframe and Power Plant technician training, one can also specialize in becoming an avionics technician. The avionics technician maintains aircraft navigation components and weather detection systems, in addition to computers controlling the engine, and instruments controlling aircraft flight.

The basic FAA requirements for obtaining certification as an aircraft mechanic can be viewed at

http://www.faa.gov/mechanics/become/test_requirements

Sample FAA examination questions are available at

http://www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/airmen/test_questions/media/amg.pdf

An online computer testing supplement, provided by the FAA, is available at

http://www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/airmen/test_questions/media/FAA-CT-8080-4E.pdf

This is just a short outline of the aircraft mechanic training courses and practical labs involved in obtaining an A&P certification.

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