A&P or Airframe and Powerplant refers to the inspection, maintenance, repair, service, and testing of aircraft. A&P mechanics, also called A&P’s or Aircraft Maintenance Technicians are the people who make sure that the planes that pilots and passengers ride everyday are safe and will not malfunction while in use. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issues certificates with an Airframe (A) rating, Powerplant (P) rating, or both (A&P). Airframe mechanics work on all parts of the aircraft, except for the instruments, power plants, or propellers. Powerplant mechanics work on the engine and some work on the propellers. A&P mechanics are authorized to perform tasks for all parts of the plane, except for the instruments.
You can become eligible for an A&P certificate if you have undergone at least 18 months of practical experience for either airframe or powerplants. Eligibility for both simultaneously will require 30 months of experience. You may decide to obtain an associate or bachelor’s degree in one of the airframe and powerplant schools certified by the FAA instead. You can also decide to enlist in the US Armed Forces. The duration of your enlistment will depend on the program you wish to pursue. Certification tests will comprise of: written examinations covering general, airframe and powerplant topics; an oral test; and a practical test.
Most A&P mechanics will work for airlines. You may also find yourself working for the military, especially if you have received your training as an enlisted soldier. Private companies with aircraft are also looking for A&P’s. Although job growth in the industry is pegged at 7%, demand will increase when a part of the workforce retires. You may also find work in automobile companies since the skills you have acquired are transferrable to any mechanic position. Opportunities abound for one interested in becoming an A&P.