The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (December 2010)
Aircraft Maintenance Technician (AMT) is a tradesperson and also refers to a licensed technical qualification for carrying out aircraft maintenance. AMTs inspect and perform or supervise maintenance, preventive maintenance, repairs and alteration of aircraft and aircraft systems.
In the US, for a person who holds a mechanic certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration, the rules for certification, and for certificate-holders, are detailed in Subpart D of Part 65 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs), which are part of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The US licensed qualification is sometimes referred to by the FAA as the Aviation Maintenance Technician and is commonly referred to as the Airframe and Powerplant (A&P).
In many countries the equivalent license to an AMT is the Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME).
The general requirement for eligibility for a mechanic certificate include the following. The candidate must:
- Be 18 or older
- Be able to read, speak, and understand English fluently;
- Meet the experience or educational requirement; and
- Pass a set of required tests within a maximum of 24 months.
The required tests include a set of knowledge tests, followed by a practical test, which includes an oral examination component, and which is administered by a Designated Mechanic Examiner (DME).
A person who fulfills the necessary requirements is issued a mechanic certificate with either an airframe or powerplant rating, or both. These ratings together account for the common practice of referring to mechanics as "A&Ps." Until 1952, instead of the Powerplant rating, an Engine rating was issued, so the abbreviation "A&E" may appear in older documents.
Eligibility for the mechanic tests depends on the applicant's ability to document their knowledge of required subject matter and ability to perform maintenance tasks. The FAA recognizes two ways of demonstrating the needed knowledge and skills: practical experience or completion of a training program at a school certificated under Part 147 of the FARs.
The AMT Society presents the annual Maintenance Skills Competition, which recognizes top AMT teams across all aviation including commercial and military.
Applications based on experienceEdit
Applicants for a mechanic certificate with a single rating—either Airframe or Powerplant—and who base their application on practical experience must demonstrate 18 months of work experience applicable to the chosen rating. Those applying for both ratings must show a total of 30 months of applicable experience. Many military-trained aircraft mechanics are eligible to use their work experience as the basis for an application for a civilian mechanic certificate.
Applications based on educationEdit
Applicants who attend an aviation maintenance school program certificated under Part 147 study an FAA-approved and supervised curriculum. Those applying for a mechanic certificate with a single rating—either Airframe or Powerplant—study a "general" set of subjects for at least 400 hours, as well as at least 750 hours of material appropriate to the chosen rating, for a total of 1,150 hours. Those who pursue both ratings study the "general" material, as well as the 750 hours for each rating, for a total of at least 1,900 hours. Completion of such a program of study typically requires between 18 and 24 months.
Required areas of study in the "general" curriculum include electricity, technical drawings, weight and balance, hydraulics and pneumatics, ground operation of aircraft, cleaning and corrosion control, basic mathematical calculations, forms and record-keeping, basic physics, maintenance manuals and publications, and applicable federal regulations. Thorough knowledge of FAA rules and regulations (especially with regard to accepted repair/modification procedures) is also expected of A&P mechanics.
Required areas of study in the airframe curriculum include inspection, structures—wood, sheet metal, composite—and fasteners, covering, finishes, welding, assembly and rigging, hydraulics, pneumatics, cabin atmosphere control systems, instrument systems, communication and navigation systems, fuel systems, electrical systems, position and warning systems, ice and rain control systems, and fire protection systems.
Required areas of study in the powerplant curriculum include inspection, reciprocating and turbine engine theory and repair, instrument systems, fire protection systems, electrical systems, lubrication systems, ignition and starting systems, fuel metering systems, fuel systems, induction and airflow systems, cooling systems, exhaust and reverser systems, propellers, unducted fans, and auxiliary power units.
Some AMTs, after at least three years of working in their field, choose to acquire an inspection authorization (IA), which is an additional rating added on to the individual's mechanic certificate. These individuals are allowed to perform annual inspections on aircraft and sign off for return to service on major repairs and alterations on the required block of the FAA form 337. Certification and limitations, including renewal requirements, of mechanics with inspection authorization is contained in 14 CFR Part 65.
The requirements for obtaining an inspection authorization is that the AMT must be licensed for a minimum of three years and actively exercising the rights of an A&P for the two years prior to the date that the IA examination is to be taken.
Renewal of the IA rating must be done every two years (on odd years) by submitting to the FAA a form showing a minimum of activity in which the IA exercised his or her authority. This activity comprises either annual inspections, major repairs, major alterations, or a minimum of 8 hours of FAA approved training. This activity must be accomplished every 12 months even though the renewal period is every 24 months.
- Employment Opportunity
- Wage Level
The average annual income of aircraft maintenance personnel is $68,677 in the United States.
Transport Canada identified twelve human factors (known in English as the “Dirty Dozen”) that degrade people’s ability to perform effectively and safely. They were adopted by the aviation industry in order to avoid human errors in aircraft maintenance
- Lack of Communication
Accurately completing the maintenance report without skipping any steps allows the next technician to start work exactly where it was finished. This is especially important when more than one technician is working on the same plane at the same time.
The technician's experience and knowledge cause him to feel overconfident and complacent, which is why routine tasks are performed without proper concentration.
- Lack of Knowledge
The lack of specific knowledge about servicing different aircraft models can lead to catastrophic results.
It is estimated that 15 percent of maintenance related errors are caused by distractions. Distracted attention may cause the technician to lose sight of a detail that requires attention.
- Lack of Teamwork
Since the maintenance of an aircraft involves the work of several people and even teams, the lack of communication and overall direction increases the complexity of the work, and disagreements between teams can directly affect the physical integrity of the aircraft.
Fatigue can be both physical and mental. This factor is especially dangerous because until fatigue becomes critical, the person does not realize that he is tired, and his attentiveness is constantly reduced.
- Lack of Resources
Lack of quality resources may prevent the technician from performing the maintenance task in accordance with the engineering documentation.
Some companies use strict schedules to ensure that technicians do their work quickly and efficiently. In most cases, excessive pressure negatively affects the results of work.
- Lack of Assertiveness
Assertiveness is the ability to express feelings, opinions, and needs in a positive and productive manner. The lack of this quality may cause the technician not to report a potential problem.
Working in dark, closed rooms, with a lack of qualitative resources, for a long time, as well as a lot of responsibility are the main stressful factors that cause errors in service.
- Lack of Awareness
Failure to recognize all the consequences of your actions and/or lack of foresight may cause maintenance errors.
Unwritten standards and rules adopted by companies that bypass the engineering documentation. Some of them are unsafe or have a negative impact on the work of technicians.
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