A Day in the Life of an Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic

Airframe and powerplant mechanics service, rebuild, maintain, and overhaul aircraft and aircraft systems. A typical day for an airframe and powerplant mechanic, also known as an A&P mechanic, starts with obtaining the work orders for the day's work as many careers do. The tasks may include diagnosing electrical problems in a radar system or checking for leaks in fuel lines. Essentially it could be anything related to aircraft maintenance. At this point the airframe and powerplant mechanic will start their work for the day in a maintenance facility or hanger depending upon the company for which they work.

Basic and preventative maintenance is the primary function of any airframe and powerplant mechanic. On a routine basis the individual will inspect aircraft according to a schedule of inspections. During these tasks the mechanic will disassemble key components of the aircraft for inspection and calibration using advanced computerized diagnostics and meticulous attention to detail. Specialized mechanical tools are needed to remove parts of the aircraft for inspection such as the fuse boxes, fuel distribution module or the navigation systems. The airframe and powerplant mechanic is responsible for the mechanical, computerized, and electrical systems of any aircraft assigned to them during their work day.

After inspecting the aircraft, which may be a fixed wing or rotary wing aircraft, the airframe and powerplant mechanic will replace or repair any damaged or less than acceptable systems and parts. A large list of specifications must be met for inspections and airframe and powerplant mechanics must adhere and meet all of them to pass inspection. These are the main day-to-day duties of an airframe and powerplant mechanic, but general repairs are also needed on a day-to-day basis. General repairs and repairing accidental damage comprises another facet of the daily life of an airframe and powerplant mechanic.

Aircraft not in need of an inspection, but needing a repair, will be listed in the daily work orders for an airframe and powerplant mechanic. These tasks and jobs will require the mechanic to administer diagnostic tests on the certain system or area of the aircraft in need of repair. Engines needing repairs are typically removed form the aircraft using a hoist or forklift truck and moved to an area where the engine is easier to repair. The airframe and powerplant mechanic will apply computer testing equipment on more recent aircraft and utilize their hearing and sight to determine problems with older modeled aircraft based on the symptoms provided prior to the repair.

Maintenance and repairs are not the only part of the life of an airframe and powerplant mechanic. Some positions and careers for airframe and powerplant mechanics involve the building and altering of components for large prototypes and space missions. The mechanic will need to follow schematics and blueprints to construct the necessary component needed. They will communicate any flaws or issues in the blueprints to the engineers and designers of the project and any solutions the airframe and powerplant mechanic may have. The airframe and powerplant mechanic may also be responsible for the construction and maintenance of fuselage and wing structures for spacecraft, helicopters, and fixed wing aircraft.

Airframe and powerplant mechanics may work in a variety of environments. They may be part of the Navy maintenance crew on an aircraft carrier or Air Force base maintaining military aircraft, and their electronic systems. The individual could also be employed by a research and development department for an aircraft manufacturing company or as part of the ground crew at an international or regional airport. Aircraft and powerplant mechanics keep the planes and helicopters in maintained and working order as well as constructing and even designing space and military aircraft.