We all know that caring for your plane's mechanical health is the first step in safety, but how do you know what kind of plane mechanic should work on your plane? Here is an overview of the types of aviation mechanics, according to FAA Safety Summary, FAA posted on GA news and information.
The choice of the type of plane mechanic is usually related to the work your plane needs. But often, you won't know until the problem is diagnosed.
There are generally three types of aircraft maintenance mechanics: airframe and electric power mechanics (A&P), or a certified mechanic (IA), or an FAA-approved repair station. Below is an overview of who to go to and why.
General Maintenance: Airframe and Engine Mechanics (A&P)
A & Ps, also known as aviation maintenance technicians, are usually called for routine maintenance of aircraft, such as checking engines, performing 100-hour checks, replacing and repairing damaged parts, repairing minor structural damage, and keeping corrosion under control.
To become an A&P Certified aircraft mechanic (14 CFR Part 65), a person must be at least 18 years old, read, write and speak English, gain 18 months of work experience to obtain an Airframe Certificate or powerplant certificate, or 30 months of work experience Simultaneously for both the airframe and powerplant.
One can also complete the training by attending part 147 accredited maintenance schools. After training, the student must pass three tests – written, oral and practical – to become certified.
Aircraft Inspection: Inspection Authorization Mechanic (IA)
IA is primarily an A&P Mechanic licensed by the FAA with additional endorsement by the Inspection Authority issued on the Form FAA 8310-5 (IA Card). As such, the implementing agencies are authorized to perform annual and progressive aircraft inspections, as well as a variety of maintenance and unauthorized modifications A & Ps. The benefit of this is that you can perform repairs and paperwork at the same time, saving time and money.
In addition to inspections, executing agencies can also sign the return of the aircraft to service after major repairs (Model 337), such as repair or replacement of main control surfaces and parts, wing and tail surface strut supports, axle replacement and major repairs to the powerplant.
To obtain an IA appointment, an A&P mechanic must train an additional three years (two active years), have available equipment and a steady base of operations, pass a written inspection test, and meet the requirements listed in CFR 14 Part 65.91.
For major repairs: Maintenance, Repair, and Repair Station (MRO)
If the aircraft needs major repairs to complex components, such as retractable landing gear assemblies, reciprocating and turbocharged engines, and additional power units, the smart move may be the MRO, also known as a repair station.
A good repair station equipped with experienced mechanics will obtain the equipment and specialized licenses required for complex repairs, such as repair of avionics and electronics, mechanical motors, fuel systems, and carburetor. Note that different terminals may specialize in the areas of aircraft maintenance, but they must all comply with the regulations and policies set forth in 14 CFR Part 145.
To obtain a repair station certificate, the applicant must successfully complete a five-stage process: pre-application, official application, compliance with documents, display and inspection, and certification.