What Do Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians Do? What are Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians?
What Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians Do
Aircraft mechanics diagnose mechanical or electrical problems.
Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians repair and perform scheduled maintenance on aircraft.
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.
About this section
Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians
Aircraft mechanics climb, reach, and balance on a plane’s exterior.
Aircraft mechanics and service technicians held about 131,700 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of aircraft mechanics and service technicians were as follows:
Support activities for air transportation 29%
Scheduled air transportation 19
Aerospace product and parts manufacturing 13
Federal government, excluding postal service 11
Nonscheduled air transportation 5
Avionics technicians held about 19,600 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of avionics technicians were as follows:
Support activities for air transportation 35%
Aerospace product and parts manufacturing 31
Federal government 7
Professional, scientific, and technical services 6
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.
Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians usually work full time on rotating 8-hour shifts. Overtime and weekend work are common.
How to Become an Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanic or Technician
Some aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians learn their trade on the job.
Some aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians learn their trade at an Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-approved aviation maintenance technician school. Others are trained on the job or learn through training in the military. Aircraft mechanics and avionics technicians typically are certified by the FAA. (See Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR), part 65, subparts D and E, for the most current requirements for becoming a certified mechanic.)
Aircraft mechanics and service technicians typically enter the occupation after attending a Part 147 FAA-approved aviation maintenance technician school. These schools award a certificate of completion that the FAA recognizes as an alternative to the experience requirements stated in regulations. The schools also grant holders the right to take the relevant FAA exams.
Avionics technicians typically earn an associate’s degree before entering the occupation. Aircraft controls, systems, and flight instruments have become increasingly digital and computerized. Workers who have the proper background in aviation flight instruments or computer repair are needed to maintain these complex systems.
Some aircraft mechanics and service technicians enter the occupation with a high school diploma or equivalent and receive on-the-job training to learn their skills and to be able to pass the FAA exams. Aviation maintenance personnel who are not certified by the FAA work under supervision until they have enough experience and knowledge and become certified.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
The FAA requires that aircraft maintenance be done either by a certified mechanic with the appropriate ratings or authorizations or under the supervision of such a mechanic.
The FAA offers separate certifications for bodywork (Airframe mechanics, or “A”) and engine work (Powerplant mechanics, or “P”), but employers may prefer to hire mechanics who have both Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) ratings. The A&P ratings generally certify that aviation mechanics meet basic knowledge and ability standards.
Mechanics must be at least 18 years of age, be fluent in English, and have 30 months of experience to qualify for either the A or the P rating or both (the A&P rating). Completion of a program at a Part 147 FAA-approved aviation maintenance technician school can substitute for the experience requirement and shorten the time requirements for becoming eligible to take the FAA exams.
Applicants must pass written, oral, and practical exams that demonstrate the required skills within a timeframe of 2 years.
To keep their certification, mechanics must have completed relevant repair or maintenance work within the previous 24 months. To fulfill this requirement, mechanics may take classes from their employer, a school, or an aircraft manufacturer.
The Inspection Authorization (IA) is available to mechanics who have had their A&P ratings for at least 3 years and meet other requirements. These mechanics are able to review and approve many major repairs and alterations.
Avionics technicians typically are certified through a repair station for the specific work they perform on aircraft, or they hold the Airframe rating to work on an aircraft’s electronic and flight instrument systems. An Aircraft Electronics Technician (AET) certification is available through the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). It certifies that aviation mechanics have a basic level of knowledge in the subject area, but it is not required by the FAA for any specific tasks. Avionics technicians who work on communications equipment may need to have the proper radiotelephone operator certification issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
Some avionics technicians begin their careers as aircraft mechanics and service technicians. As aircraft mechanics and service technicians gain experience, they may attend classes or otherwise choose to pursue additional certifications that grant privileges to work on specialized flight instruments. Eventually, they may become avionics technicians who work exclusively on flight instruments.
As aircraft mechanics gain experience, they may advance to lead mechanic, lead inspector, or shop supervisor. Opportunities to advance may be best for those who have an inspection authorization (IA). Mechanics with broad experience in maintenance and repair may become inspectors or examiners for the FAA.
Detail oriented. Mechanics and technicians need to adjust airplane parts to exact specifications. For example, they often use precision tools to tighten wheel bolts to a specified tension.
Dexterity. Mechanics and technicians need to coordinate the movement of their fingers and hands in order to grasp, manipulate, or assemble parts.
Observational skills. Mechanics and technicians must recognize engine noises, read gauges, and collect other information to determine whether an aircraft’s systems are working properly.
Strength. Mechanics and technicians may carry or move heavy equipment or aircraft parts, climb on airplanes, balance, and reach without falling.
Avionics technicians Occupational Code: 49-2091
Aircraft mechanics and service technicians Occupational Code: 49-3011
Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians
Median annual wages, May 2021Avionics technicians
$69,280 Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians
$65,550 Aircraft mechanics and service technicians
$65,380 Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations
$47,940 Total, all occupations
Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U.S. Economy.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics
The median annual wage for aircraft mechanics and service technicians was $65,380 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $38,270, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $98,590.
The median annual wage for avionics technicians was $69,280 in May 2021. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $38,700, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $100,860.
In May 2021, the median annual wages for aircraft mechanics and service technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
|Scheduled air transportation||$96,320|
|Aerospace product and parts manufacturing||64,900|
|Federal government, excluding postal service||64,710|
|Nonscheduled air transportation||63,590|
|Support activities for air transportation||59,540|
In May 2021, the median annual wages for avionics technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
|Aerospace product and parts manufacturing||$78,700|
|Professional, scientific, and technical services||77,740|
|Support activities for air transportation||60,460|
Mechanics and technicians usually work full time on rotating 8-hour shifts. Overtime and weekend work are common.
Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians
Percent change in employment, projected 2021-31Aircraft mechanics and service technicians 6%
Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians 6%
Total, all occupations 5%
Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations 5%
Avionics technicians 5%
Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U.S. Economy.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program
|Occupational Title||SOC Code||Employment, 2021||Projected Employment, 2031||Change, 2021-31||Employment by Industry|
|Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians||—||151,400||160,400||6||9,000||—|
|Avionics technicians||49-2091||19,600||20,600||5||1,000||Get data|
|Aircraft mechanics and service technicians||49-3011||131,700||139,800||6||8,000||Get data|
|SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program|
State & Area Data
Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)
The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.
Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.
CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.
Similar OccupationsAbout this section
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||2021 MEDIAN PAY|
|Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technologists and Technicians||Aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians run and maintain equipment used to develop, test, produce, and sustain aircraft and spacecraft.||Associate’s degree||$73,580|
|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||$47,020|
|Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics||Automotive service technicians and mechanics inspect, maintain, and repair cars and light trucks.||Postsecondary nondegree award||$46,880|
|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||$48,690|
|Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technologists and Technicians||Electrical and electronic engineering technologists and technicians help engineers design and develop equipment that is powered by electricity or electric current.||Associate’s degree||$63,640|
|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||$61,760|
|Electricians||Electricians install, maintain, and repair electrical power, communications, lighting, and control systems.||High school diploma or equivalent||$60,040|
|Electro-mechanical and Mechatronics Technologists and Technicians||Electro-mechanical and mechatronics technologists and technicians operate, test, and maintain electromechanical or robotic equipment.||Associate’s degree||$60,360|
|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||$53,770|
|Mechanical Engineering Technologists and Technicians||Mechanical engineering technologists and technicians help mechanical engineers design, develop, test, and manufacture machines and other devices.||Associate’s degree||$60,460|
Contacts for More InformationAbout this section
For more information about aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians, visit
Occupational Requirements Survey
For a profile highlighting selected BLS data on occupational requirements, see
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