What do airplane upkeep technicians truly do?

Lengthy hours, unpredictable day-to-day duties and hidden issues that should be found are just some of the frequent challenges airline mechanics face.

Licensed and ruled by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), airline mechanics bear many months of coaching much like pilot coaching (however on the bottom) so vacationers can fly safely from level A to level B.

However what precisely does this coaching entail — and what’s it prefer to be an airplane upkeep technician?

Associated: Contained in the dizzying course of of economic plane upkeep

TPG acquired an opportunity to be taught precisely what 24 hours as an airline mechanic seems to be like by spending a while with Gabriel Figueroa Navedo, an American Airways plane upkeep technician who spends his days making issues good on the airline’s upkeep website in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

How I acquired began

My dad labored in fleet service, so I’ve at all times been round planes. In 2015, I began working in reservations for American Airways, taking cellphone calls. In the future, we got a tour of one of many hangars in Miami, and I fell in love. I went to highschool to get my license. Now, I am an plane upkeep technician. It is most likely the perfect determination I ever made.

Making ready for the job

A set of engines line a hangar at American Airways’ upkeep website in Tulsa, Oklahoma. MEGHNA MAHARISHI/THE POINTS GUY

In coaching, you be taught the fundamentals of normal aviation plans and how you can troubleshoot. The most important factor you study is hydraulics; they’re in all places and the place numerous issues can come up. You additionally examine primary electrical energy abilities, the way it applies to an airplane and how airplanes make electrical energy. You are proving to the FAA that you simply’re keen to be taught and able to studying.

Your license is issued and ruled by the FAA. The license is type of like a pilot’s license, nevertheless it says “plane mechanic” on it. Lots of people be taught within the army, however if you happen to’re not within the army, you may attend faculty or commerce college for round 18 to 24 months.

You hone your abilities at that first job — that is what brings all of it collectively. The whole lot I discovered in class was just about pointless within the sense that I didn’t be taught something that utilized particularly to this job. I prefer to name it a license to be taught as a result of it is acquired to cowl stuff like small propeller engines for the reason that FAA does not know if you happen to’re gonna work someplace like right here or by yourself personal airplane.

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My day-to-day routine

A Boeing 777 is available in for upkeep. MEGHNA MAHARISHI/THE POINTS GUY

You haven’t any concept what your each day project might be. I work the second shift, which begins at 2:30 p.m., with a crew that meets to determine what wants consideration that day. It is not a standard nine-to-five job the place what you may be doing simply since you did one thing the day gone by.

I work in block 6A, that means my crew and I normally work within the cabin. We largely cowl inside stuff, which covers duties like eradicating business-class seats and overhauling and cleansing the cabin. We principally take all the things aside and attempt to make it look good.

We normally have 40 to 50 days to work on a airplane. It might probably differ from airplane to airplane, however usually, now we have greater than a month to work on a airplane. So, we are able to prioritize every day.

We’re chargeable for passengers’ first impressions. Some technicians choose to be outdoors doing extra concerned stuff like engines, however inside, that is the place all our enterprise comes via. I take delight in guaranteeing issues look nice as a result of passengers will discover if one thing shouldn’t be proper.

The challenges that come up


Typically, you run into hiccups. Each five-minute job is one damaged bolt away from being an eight-hour job. Most days, although, you get right into a rhythm and end by 10:30 p.m. — even with the half-hour for double- and triple-checking all the things to make sure you have not left any instruments behind factored in.

Associated: 11 security options in plane cabins that you could be not know exist

Airplanes fly rather a lot, and there is a variety of stuff we will not get to instantly. There is not one particular factor that at all times breaks, however there are at all times little issues, chips, nicks, scratches, and many others. We maintain 99% of these points. Nonetheless, a variety of that stuff is put on and tear, and an airplane is supposed to put on via these objects. That is why now we have upkeep checks.

Errors do occur. That stated, we be taught from all of them, in order that they not often occur. We do not need anyone getting damage — security is at all times the No. 1 aim.

It is very uncommon to search out one thing that is not completed, however now we have an nameless system to encourage individuals to report any errors. This technique is in place as an additional security layer. So, if somebody forgets to, say, substitute pins that have been eliminated throughout upkeep, the plane could be stopped from taking off.

I can not say that we are able to forestall upkeep delays, however when an airplane leaves right here, it should be in virtually excellent form. Being proactive as a substitute of reactive is one thing many individuals take as a right, however you will need to mitigate dangers. We do not need issues additional down the road, and the airline does not need delays and cancellations.

Why I really like my job

You’re feeling completed whenever you discover one thing that is damaged that no one else discovered. You are taking the time to ensure issues aren’t neglected.

Other than the job itself, I really like my co-workers. They’re an ideal group of individuals to work with; you see them greater than your individual household and at all times be taught one thing from all of them. It is like a small household.

As advised to Meghna Maharishi.

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