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Just a Mechanic

Updated: Jan 4, 2023

Recently I received correspondence from an individual that described himself as “just a mechanic”. It broke my heart to think individuals would place so little value on their chosen profession. When you call yourself “just a,” you let the world see you as less than you really are.

I have been in the aviation maintenance industry for over forty years. I have met and worked with hundreds of Certified Airframe and Powerplant Mechanics, Certified Repairman, and Technicians of all skills and disciplines. There is a trend to paint them with a big brush and categorize them as Aviation Maintenance Technicians (AMT). None are “just a”, anything. They are Professionals, one and all.

Consider the Certified Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic (A&P) and their job. They are inspectors first and foremost. It is in their DNA to inspect aircraft.

As they approach an aircraft of any kind, anywhere, they begin inspecting it.

The inspection begins with a series of questions and observations; is it leaking anything, does the aircraft require cleaning, is it making noises it should not be and are there smells that should not be coming from that type of aircraft.

As the A&P gets closer, more details are inspected. Their eyes, ears, nose, and, finally, their touch examine as much of the aircraft as they can gain access to. Each aircraft has a personality and issues unique to that aircraft.

If an aircraft is usually maintained by an A&P mechanic, the mechanic will look upon it with an affection only they understand. They know it's personality and know when it speaks. Oil in a new location, movement in an unusual way, looseness in an area, tell a story to those who know how to look for it. That is a unique bond that is only understood by those that have experienced it.

After a complete inspection, now begins the process of correcting any defect found. An assessment of the defects must be accomplished. Does the defect constitute an unairworthy condition? If so, is the corrective action a repair, major repair, or alteration? Each has a different process and, therefore, different criteria for proper completion.

Each of the three would require answering a few questions.

· Where is guidance for the specific level of repair?

· Does the repair guidance need to be approved data?

· Do I have access to the guidance?

· Is the guidance the most current available?

Now the A&P mechanic needs to research and study the guidance. An effort to understand the guidelines to ensure the A&P has the skills, tools, and other resources to complete the repair. They must gather those resources and ensure the task is completed in compliance with the guidance.

After the repair is complete, testing and evaluations must be completed to ensure the repair corrected the defect. Understanding the system and completing the testing and evaluation of the system is critical.

Ensuring the standards are met as outlined in the guidance for the repair is a critical part of the A&P mechanic’s responsibility. Those standards ensure the repair will restore the aircraft to a standard that will meet the expectations of the pilot and crew. Those expectations are identified in the approved flight manual.

Failure to meet those standards may throw burn coals on the pilot and crew in an emergency. Not meeting those standards may create a crisis or worsen an ongoing emergency.

After the testing and evaluations are complete and the standards met, the record must be updated to include details of the work accomplished, results of the functional testing, and proper certification of the maintenance, including documenting any follow-up maintenance inspections that may have been performed.

All the above items will take time, skill, knowledge, and experience. This does not sound like “just a” to me.

A skilled professional has applied their expertise to ensure every part of the task is complete, documented, and certified before the aircraft is released from their care.

It sounds like someone committed to keeping others safe.

It sounds like someone that has freely taken on the responsibility of many lives, providing safety and security to those entrusted with their care.

It is far more than “just a.”

Stay Safe, Stay Strong, and Stay Professional.

Jeffery Howard

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