Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians

What Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians Do

Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians repair and perform scheduled maintenance on aircraft.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oByvKU2CwHs

Work Environment

Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians work in hangars, in repair stations, or on airfields. The environment can be loud because of aircraft engines and equipment.

How to Become an Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanic or Technician

Most aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians learn their trade at an Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-approved aviation maintenance technician school or on the job. Some learn through training received in the military.

Pay

The median annual wage for aircraft mechanics and service technicians was $64,090 in May 2019.

The median annual wage for avionics technicians was $65,700 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians is projected to grow 5 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. Job opportunities are expected to be good because there will be a need to replace those workers leaving the occupation.

Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians repair and perform scheduled maintenance on aircraft.

Duties

Aircraft mechanics typically do the following:

  • Diagnose mechanical or electrical problems
  • Repair wings, brakes, electrical systems, and other aircraft components
  • Replace defective parts, using hand tools or power tools
  • Examine replacement aircraft parts for defects
  • Read maintenance manuals to identify repair procedures
  • Test aircraft parts with gauges and other diagnostic equipment
  • Inspect completed work to ensure that it meets performance standards
  • Keep records of maintenance and repair work

Avionics technicians typically do the following:

  • Test electronic instruments, using circuit testers, oscilloscopes, and voltmeters
  • Interpret flight test data to diagnose malfunctions and performance problems
  • Assemble components, such as electrical controls and junction boxes, and install software
  • Install instrument panels, using hand tools, power tools, and soldering irons
  • Repair or replace malfunctioning components
  • Keep records of maintenance and repair work

Airplanes require reliable parts and maintenance in order to fly safely. To keep an airplane in operating condition, aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians perform scheduled maintenance, make repairs, and complete inspections. They must follow detailed regulations set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that dictate maintenance schedules for different operations.

Many mechanics are generalists and work on many different types of aircraft, such as jets, piston-driven airplanes, and helicopters. Others specialize in one section, such as the engine, hydraulic system, or electrical system, of a particular type of aircraft. In independent repair shops, mechanics usually inspect and repair many types of aircraft.

The following are examples of types of aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians:

Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) mechanics are certified generalist mechanics who can independently perform many maintenance and alteration tasks on aircraft. A&P mechanics repair and maintain most parts of an aircraft, including the engines, landing gear, brakes, and air-conditioning system. Some specialized activities require additional experience and certification.

Maintenance schedules for aircraft may be based on hours flown, days since the last inspection, trips flown, or a combination of these factors. Maintenance also may need to be done at other times to address specific issues recognized by mechanics or manufacturers.

Mechanics use precision instruments to measure wear and identify defects. They may use x rays or magnetic or ultrasonic inspection equipment to discover cracks that cannot be seen on a plane’s exterior. They check for corrosion, distortion, and cracks in the aircraft’s main body, wings, and tail. They then repair the metal, fabric, wood, or composite materials that make up the airframe and skin.

After completing all repairs, mechanics test the equipment to ensure that it works properly and record all maintenance completed on an aircraft.

Avionics technicians are specialists who repair and maintain a plane’s electronic instruments, such as radio communication devices and equipment, radar systems, and navigation aids. As the use of digital technology increases, more time is spent maintaining computer systems. The ability to repair and maintain many avionics and flight instrument systems is granted through the Airframe rating, but other licenses or certifications may be needed as well.

Designated airworthiness representatives (DARs) examine, inspect, and test aircraft for airworthiness. They issue airworthiness certificates, which aircraft must have to fly. There are two types of DARs: manufacturing DARs and maintenance DARs.

Inspection authorized (IA) mechanics are mechanics who have both Airframe and Powerplant certification and may perform inspections on aircraft and return them to service. IA mechanics are able to do a wider variety of maintenance activities and alterations than any other type of maintenance personnel. They can do comprehensive annual inspections or return aircraft to service after a major repair.

Repairmen certificate holders may or may not have the A&P certificate or other certificates. Repairmen certificates are issued by certified repair stations to aviation maintenance personnel, and the certificates allow them to do specific duties. Repairmen certificates are valid only while the mechanic works at the issuing repair center and are not transferable to other employers.

Aircraft mechanics and service technicians held about 137,200 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of aircraft mechanics and service technicians were as follows:

Support activities for air transportation 29%
Scheduled air transportation 23
Aerospace product and parts manufacturing 14
Federal government, excluding postal service 13
Nonscheduled air transportation 5

Avionics technicians held about 22,800 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of avionics technicians were as follows:

Aerospace product and parts manufacturing 38%
Support activities for air transportation 27
Federal government 8
Professional, scientific, and technical services 5

Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians work in hangars, in repair stations, or on airfields. They must meet strict deadlines while following safety standards.

Most of these mechanics and technicians work near major airports. They may work outside on the airfield, or in climate-controlled shops and hangars. Civilian aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians employed by the U.S. Armed Forces work on military installations.

Injuries and Illnesses

Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians often lift heavy objects, handle dangerous chemicals, or operate large power tools. They may work on scaffolds or ladders, and noise and vibrations are common, especially when engines are being tested. Workers must take precautions against injuries, such as wearing ear protection and brightly colored vests to ensure that they are seen when working around large aircraft.

Work Schedules

Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians usually work full time on rotating 8-hour shifts. Overtime and weekend work are common.

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2019

Aerospace engineering and operations technicians

Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians

Aerospace engineering and operations technicians operate and maintain equipment used in developing, testing, producing, and sustaining new aircraft and spacecraft.

Associate’s degree $66,020

Automotive body and glass repairers

Automotive Body and Glass Repairers

Automotive body and glass repairers restore, refinish, and replace vehicle bodies and frames, windshields, and window glass.

High school diploma or equivalent $42,350

Automotive service technicians and mechanics

Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics

Automotive service technicians and mechanics inspect, maintain, and repair cars and light trucks.

Postsecondary nondegree award $42,090

Diesel service technicians and mechanics

Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics

Diesel service technicians and mechanics inspect, repair, and overhaul buses, trucks, or any vehicle with a diesel engine.

High school diploma or equivalent $48,500

Electrical and electronic engineering technicians

Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians

Electrical and electronics engineering technicians help engineers design and develop electrical and electronic equipment.

Associate’s degree $65,260

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers

Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers install or repair a variety of electrical equipment.

See How to Become One $59,080

Electricians

Electricians

Electricians install, maintain, and repair electrical power, communications, lighting, and control systems.

High school diploma or equivalent $56,180

Electro-mechanical Technicians

Electro-mechanical technicians operate, test, and maintain unmanned, automated, robotic, or electromechanical equipment.

Associate’s degree $58,350

Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians

Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians

Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians inspect, maintain, and repair vehicles and machinery used in construction, farming, and other industries.

High school diploma or equivalent $51,590

Mechanical Engineering Technicians

Mechanical engineering technicians help mechanical engineers design, develop, test, and manufacture mechanical devices.

Associate’s degree $56,980

For more information about aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians, visit

Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association

Aviation Maintenance Magazine

Federal Aviation Administration

National Business Aviation Association

National Center for Aerospace & Transportation Technologies

Professional Aviation Maintenance Association

CareerOneStop

For a career video on avionics technicians, visit

Avionics Technicians

O*NET

Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians

Avionics Technicians


Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/aircraft-and-avionics-equipment-mechanics-and-technicians.htm (visited ).