Aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) or simply Aircraft MRO maintenance is a complex task involving work on structures, interiors, systems, and avionics. The elements that make up the aircraft are assembled and disassembled, following a revision procedure that follows national and international regulations taking as a fundamental variable the number of flight hours.
The aircraft maintenance technician career is definitely for people who like mechanics, but above all, for those who are responsible and dedicated, because a clumsy job means danger for people on the plane.
Some revisions made during aircraft MRO are so important that they require the complete dismantling of the aircraft, so that it is possible to see the condition and operation of the fastening elements, the joints of the fuselage plates and also of the wings, in other words, pursuing an aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul career is about making sure every aspect of the aircraft is in perfect working conditions prior to take-off. Even if a defect is not dangerous, it can reduce efficiency, which in logistical terms is likely to be very expensive.
For the sake of passenger safety in particular, aviation companies are required to have a sufficient number of technicians and specialists backed up with licences according to the type of aircrafts, engines and operations they have.
If you are practically minded, can learn absorb and apply the complex theory underlying the work you are doing, an aircraft MRO career, working as an Aircraft Maintenance Technician, may suit you very well.
Please excuse the pun, but with a career in Aircraft Maintenance, the sky really is the limit. Training follows several routes and you can choose whether you want to carry out general maintenance on the most common types of aircraft, or whether you wish to go further than general training and specialise, perhaps in the commercial sector, military aircrafts or agriculture.
The extent to which you are willing to work in order to build comprehensive skills and the knowledge and versatility to work anywhere in the industry is your choice. As you might expect, the greater your experience, skills and level of specialism, the higher the salary you are likely to be able to command for your work. This is a field where you can first learn the basics and get your Aircraft MRO career started while you earn a starter salary. You can then build your hours of on the job experience and learning so that you can move to the next stage.
The volume of air traffic is rising, and technology is always improving and changing. Currently, there is a shortage of Aircraft Maintenance Technicians (AMTs) which shows no signs of reducing, so the demand for newly qualified personnel with knowledge of the most modern and latest systems will continue. However, this is a complex field of work and you need to be willing to work and study hard in order to make the grade.
Education: How Do You Get a Part-66 Aircraft Maintenance License?
In order to become a successful Aircraft Maintenance Technician, you should get first a Part-66 Aircraft Maintenance License (AML), starting your career path gaining basic knowledge and experience with a Basic Aircraft Maintenance Training. After completing Basic Training, you should gain some real work experience and then continue to develop your career path via specializing you in different types of aircrafts via Type Training. But let’s go one step at a time.
What is Basic Aircraft Maintenance Training?
In order to begin your journey of becoming an Aircraft Maintenance Technician, you should be at least 18 years old, have a good educational standard, be able to read and write fluently in the language you will be working in and to take into account that the main part of the professional terms will be taught in English.
To obtain an Aircraft Maintenance License (AML) and become an Aircraft Maintenance Technician, applicants go through a course at any of the EASA approved centres across Europe or take the EASA Part-147 approved course to then sit for the initial basic examination.
The difference between these two routes is that after completing the courses in approved centres, you need to gain 5 years maintenance experience on the appropriate category of aircraft in addition to passing all of the examinations before you can apply for a license, whereas if you take the EASA Part-147 approved course, you only need to gather two years' maintenance experience before applying to the CAA for your B License.
This license is “blank” Aircraft Maintenance License, i.e. a license that endorses general basic training in aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO).
The duration of the courses and examinations to become an Aircraft Maintenance Technician may vary across centres, but the final result is a Category B license, which is divided into two subcategories:
B1 – mechanical (aircraft structure, power plant and mechanical and electrical systems)
B2 – avionics (communications, navigation, radar, instrument and electrical systems)
An Aircraft Maintenance Technician has various possibilities but in general they can work at airline companies and at maintenance workshops. At first, they work as an assistant technician, then as a qualified technician, then as a workshop or hangar manager, and, finally, as a supervisor or inspector. Some professionals combine work at the workshop with teaching.
But what about the specialization within a particular field? Basic training and knowledge can get you far, but the logical next step to move forward is Type Training.
What is Type Aircraft Maintenance Training?
This basic training is just the first step of an aircraft MRO career. The “blank” licence enables a job opportunity, but the second logical step is to complete a type training.
A type training or type rating goes beyond fundamental training into training on a specific type of aircraft, its systems and other specialisms. These courses require successful completion of the elementary training and enables you to release the aircraft for maintenance work that has been performed on a component or the aircraft. This is commonly known as the “CRS” Certificate of Release to Service.
Type aircraft maintenance training often directed towards complex aircraft, such as a Boeing 747, but also to simpler ones such as ATR-72. Many commercial aircraft share type ratings, allowing qualified technician to perform maintenance work both of them with minimal transition training. Examples include the Boeing 757 and Boeing 767, Boeing 777 and Boeing 787, Airbus A330 and Airbus A340, and all of the members of the A320 family (the A318, A319, A320, and A321).
To nail this specialization, firstly, a theoretical type training is to be completed, and then a practical type training is followed. Those who have obtained the theoretical licence and gained hours of maintenance experience are usually hired by a company, which pays the type rating. Another possibility is to pay for the type training yourself and be subsequently hired by the airline after achieving the required amount of hours of maintenance experience.
As with any other professional career, type training is the specialization that can help you stand out when applying for a particular job position or climb up the ladder at your current job to improve your salary overtime. As well, at a personal level, for any technician that enjoys this job, it is a satisfaction to be able to delve into the details of a particular type of aircraft to become a specialist.
Duties of Aircraft Maintenance Technician
The primary duty of aircraft maintenance technician (AMT) is to check that an aircraft is mechanically sound and fit to operate. This means that you must have the knowledge and ability to spot issues and resolve them, service components, replace parts etc. Being a member of a team that decides whether an aircraft takes off is a huge responsibility.
General duties cover all areas, from the wheels to the engine, brakes, electrical systems etc. All of which have to be inspected using procedures set out by EASA. If you choose to specialise on particular types of aircraft, used for example in a particular industry, in addition to basic knowledge, you will need to be able to apply you specialist knowledge to those particular models.
As an AMT, in order to provide a clear audit trail, you will need to record and document the work carried out in logs and journals approved for the purpose, theses journals are called logbook.
Average Aviation Maintenance Technician Salaries
As an AMT you will be working 8 hours a day plus overtime. Salary is affected by your level of education, skills and experience, the sector you are working in and the type of work you are contracted to perform. Geography also plays a part.
The latest data (2017) of aviation maintenance technician salary of US market, indicates that the average salary is € 50,000 according to the website Glassdoor. The lower quartile is around € 27,000, and the higher quartile goes up to € 65,000. It’s worth pointing out as well that these numbers were lower before, as the aircraft maintenance technician salary moves up around 3% year-to-year.
What about the opportunities out there?
There are increasingly more job openings for technicians within this field. Your tasks may be related to examining safety conditions of the exterior and interior of aircraft before take-off; assisting other technicians while practicing safety conscious behaviours; inspecting, implementing, or overseeing maintenance tasks; ensuring there are no flows or threats to aircraft engines; managing inventory stock of items and assisting in the delivery of those items; performing fusion welding on aircraft and ground support equipment; and many other tasks that basically are focused on ensuring that even the smallest part of an aircraft works as perfectly as a passenger expect from a leading airline.
To be efficient, Aircraft Maintenance Technicians should be, above all, agile! Your tasks will take you up and down a ladder, crawling in and out of narrow areas, and you will have to stretch out to reach hidden but essential parts of the aircraft. But that’s the fun of it, right?
Some of the positions offered out there include:
- Aviation Maintenance Technician
- Avionics Component Maintenance Technician
- Airframe Technician
- Aircraft Structure Maintenance Technician
- Aircraft Cabin Maintenance Technician
- Mechanical Component Maintenance Technician
There many diverse sectors, including:
- Civil Aviation
- Cargo and commercial flight
- Provision of helicopters for tourism or personnel transport
- Agriculture, no longer referred to as crop spraying, but rather aerial applicators
All these sectors have a demand for AMTs. With comprehensive training, and expensive experience all these vacancies could be open to you, providing a path to a secure, worthwhile and well-paid future.
Are you ready to take on the challenging aircraft MRO career? Go for it!