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Aircraft Power Plant Mechanic

Career Overview

Aircraft maintenance and repair professionals are divided into three categories. Airframe mechanics are authorized to work on any part of the plane except the engines and the instruments. Power plant mechanics maintain and repair the engines, whether they are piston driven or jet engines. Avionics technicians are in charge of the instruments and electronic controls.

Power plant mechanics are in charge of the careful inspections aircraft engines get on a periodic basis, based in the number of hours flown between inspections. They keep extensive records of their findings on maintenance inspections and file reports. Usually, the power plant mechanics that repair engines work in a separate unit from the crews that handle inspection and maintenance.

Education

There are about 175 schools accredited by the FAA to provide formal education programs for airframe and power plant mechanics. The program requires 18 - 24 months of full time study. There is a lot of math and computer science to the programs today, along with the study of jet aircraft engines, the tools used to work on them and the steps involved in inspecting them. The FAA requires 1900 hours of school time from these academies, which they will allow as substitute hours for actual experience when certifying new power plant mechanics.

Employment

There were about 122,000 power plant and airframe mechanics working in the U.S. in 2006, according to the Department of Labor. Some work in maintenance and inspection sections, while others are employed in the actual repair of engines and engine components.

Job Outlook

Jobs in this field are projected to grow about 10% over the decade 2006 - 2016, about the same growth rate projected as an average for jobs overall. Competition in the field can be steep in areas where there are major airports.

Salary Range

10th Percentile  $32,960

Median Salary  $51,390

90th Percentile  $69,030

Source: U.S. Department of Labor

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