To become a certified airline mechanic you need 30 months of experience working on airplane engines and components. If you lack this experience, you can attend one of the nations’ many federally-endorsed airline mechanic schools. If you make it through one of the programs, which require roughly 2,000 hours of instruction, you’re on your way to passing the oral, written and practical test needed to become a federally-certified aviation mechanic.
Aviation High School in New York City offers a 1,900-hour program in aviation maintenance technology. Students learn to read aircraft blueprints and understand aircraft fabrication techniques, hydraulic and electrical systems. Students will take apart, inspect and reassemble aircraft engines. The school has an active alumni association and an 88 percent graduation rate, according to its website. Connecticut Aero Tech School has a 20-month, 2,400-hour program for aircraft maintenance technicians. A new class enrolls every 128 days. The school is equipped for hands-on training concerning welding, hydraulics, electronics, painting and overhaul of airline engines. Students learn federal aviation regulations and airplane manufacturers’ technical specifications.
Rock Valley College in Illinois has a two-year, 2,000-hour aviation technology program. It prepares students to become aviation engine or airframe mechanics, although some have gone on to work in sheet metal construction, turbine engine repair or the HVAC field. Graduates have preferential status if they choose to seek an aviation-related bachelor’s degree at nearby Northern Illinois University or Southern Illinois University. Western Michigan University College of Aviation has 700 undergraduates, making it the largest college aviation program in the nation, although that figure includes prospective pilots and air traffic controllers as well as mechanics. The aircraft maintenance program trains students for FAA certification, but it includes a Bachelor of Science degree, so its graduates often become managers and executives for worldwide aerospace companies.
Enterprise State Community College runs courses through the Alabama Aviation Center at five Alabama campuses. The school offers one- to two-year programs, depending on the campus. Each program has classroom instruction and hands-on training with airplane engines. Aviation Institute of Maintenance has nine schools including ones in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Orlando and Chesapeake, Virginia. Its graduates have landed jobs with Delta, JetBlue, United and Southwest airlines. Students can pursue a general maintenance track or specialize in technical engineering or aviation electronics.
For 30 years, Orange Coast College’s aviation maintenance technology program has offered instruction in airplane and helicopter maintenance. The school in California offers associate degrees and prepares students to become certified mechanics. Students will learn how to test equipment, how to read aircraft blueprints and how to handle sensitive electronic components. Spokane Community College runs its aviation maintenance technology program out of two airport hangars and provides instruction on electrical, hydraulic, air conditioning and other aircraft systems. Students will take apart and put together propeller-and turbine-powered engines. Students must complete 1,900 hours of training before taking a certification exam.
- Federal Aviation Administration: Basic Requirements to Become an Airline Mechanic
- Federal Aviation Administration: Maintenance Schools Search
- Connecticut Aero Tech School: Aircraft Maintenance Technician
- Rock Valley College: Aviation Maintenance Technology Degree
- Western Michigan University: College of Aviation
- Enterprise State Community College: Alabama Aviation Center
- Aviation Institute of Maintenance
- Orange Coast College: Airframe and Powerplant
- Spokane Community College: Aviation Maintenance Technology
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