I'm interested in becoming a Aircraft Mechanic but there are a few things holding me back
As title states..
So i'm really interested and excited going into this unique field. I've read some other people's experience about the job but what really concerns is the part
of the night shifts and relocating.
I don't mind doing night shifts in the early career but around how long does it last? Because I do would like to spend some time with my family.
And how is the relocation? Do relocate just to fix something and then come back? Or is it relocate permanently ?
After obtaining the AME, what other positions does it qualify you for?
Hello Paul. I have been in the aircraft maintenance for the last 25 years, and I too am a family man. You have a very good question, but the answer is not so simple. With an airplane, you have to remember that your customers will use the aircraft mostly during business hours, which means that most of the maintenance has to happen when the aircraft is not in use, usually at night or weekends. When you first start, with no experience or seniority, you will have to take whatever is open so you can get your experience. Now, this may last a short time , or it may take longer depending on the company and your drive and desire to achieve more. There are many technicians out there that have been lucky enough to never work a night shift. There are also many technicians that only want to work night shift because of the extra pay. Being in Montreal, you may want to look into Bombardier, they have a huge manufacturing facility that may offer quite a few day time positions. Most larger companies will have shift bids once a year, and you may have the opportunity to move around in different shifts.
As far as moving around, that is entirely up to you. I am not referring to the "road trips" where you may go rescue a stuck aircraft or help out another facility for a short time. Montreal is a big town that offers commercial, manufacturing and general aviation all in one place, you may never have to move. But, you may get an offer from a company that will give you a promotion, better pay and relocation to a nice tropical location, than you and your family will have to make that decision. I only moved once, for 5 years, and then moved back. That was a strategic move that advanced my career, and my family was on board with it. My kids discovered that they liked horses and cowboy boots.
In aviation, nothing is permanent. Technology changes, your needs and interests change, business requirements drive changes, it is what you make of it. I have a few friends that have left the aviation industry and are working in the power plants, because their knowledge of hydraulics, pneumatics, turbines, electrical and complex systems made them very desirable in those fields. I also have quite a few colleagues that went into the law enforcement fields because the analytical thinking required in trouble shooting, helped them become very good detectives.
Its your life, you will make it what you want it to be. Good luck, hope this helps.
To comply with the requirements of FE license, I had worked in aircraft hangars, engine overhaul, line maintenance and instrument shops and over the years of working as FE, I have worked with aircraft mechanics and aircraft engineers for release of the aircraft for line flights and also for test flights on the aircrafts coming out of heavy maintemenace after having completed 20,000 flying hours.
Aviation is a very wide field and as such no one person can do every thing on aircraft. As mechanic you get your initial certification either on that particular airframe, or that engine type or avionics.
As mechanic you may be assigned to work "on line" which means three shifts, signing off aircrafts if flight crew has reported an abnormality on aircraft system, or engine or on flight instruments. As certified mechanic on airframe, you can only work on the aircraft system and rectify it and so on.
But on the other hand as mechanic assigned to work in the aircraft hangars where aircrafts are brought inside after completing certain numbers of flying hours, you will work on the aircraft to fix that problem and carry out check on the aircraft systems which are supposed to checked after that particular aircraft has flown for 120 or 500 flying hours. Here there is no time pressure on you when working on line and you can take time to fix the problem. These duties are also happening in three shifts.
Then there are engine overhaul shope and aircraft instrument shops which are mostly NOT 24 hours basis.
Now working as mechanic on line, hangar and shops for certain period of time, you would have completed your time requirement to appear for your AIRCRAFT ENGINEER LIICENSE exam.
As aircraft engineer you are involved on management and major maintenance decision making and you may be working 9 to 5.
You can move quickly through these steps if you stay focused and depending on the health of aviation industry.
The major maintenance happens at the major hubs of the commercial airlines and as such you may not be required to move your residence very often. But each airline flies to many online stations where only line mechanics are posted who are there to refuel the aircraft and check the safety of the flight before releasing it onwards. So you may be sent to those line stations for some time and then come back to major maintenance base where your airline has several flights departing every day.
Then there are private commmercial aviation who also employ their own trained mechanics who service the aircrafts and sign release. Some times they fly with the aircraft to next landing airport to provide maintenance cover.
Aviation is fast changing field and many exciting things are happening. If you don't mind dirty hands, working in open sometimes hot or cold environment at least initially and still stay positive, this field has lot to offer. The aviation industry cannot run with out mechanics.
I hope I have answered your question but if not, please write back. Remember it needs certification and licenses to touch the aircraft in this field.
I have worked at a major airline for over 30 years, and it has been overall a rewarding experience. To answer your key points, working at most major airlines involves working to a union contract. Shift preference is simply a matter of company seniority at your station. If you hire on at the right time and are lucky enough that they hire a lot of people after you, you could possibly find yourself in a position as I did to never be assigned to the midnight shift. But again if you hire on and are stuck at the bottom of the seniority list, you could spend a very long time on the off shift, as well as possibly weekend coverage. It just depends on timing, which you can't really plan for or predict.
As far as relocation, obviously you will need to be located in reasonable proximity to the base airport you are assigned to, and make the daily commute. Typically off base assignments are based on needed field service and they don't come up that often. Wherever you hire on to will be your base; if you later on want to relocate and then again if union, transfers to other bases will be preferenced by seniority with a bid process.
Other positions? In my case, I started out as a mechanic. I did that for 3 years. Through seniority and an exam, I was able to bid as an Inspector and worked there for 19 years. With the NDT experience I gained there, I was able to get a promotion into management as the Level III NDT Process Engineer. That was my path, just as an example of where it can lead.
Good luck in your pursuit and endeavors! Hope this helps-