Helicopters are complex machines that require maintenance performed to a high standard of reliability and safety. To keep a helicopter flying, maintenance technicians perform scheduled maintenance, make repairs, and complete inspections.
Because of the demanding standards of safety and professionalism required in aviation, helicopter maintenance technicians must follow detailed regulations set by the aviation licensing authority in that country. In the United States, for example, only maintenance technicians licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can certify that an aircraft is ready to fly.
U.S. aviation maintenance technicians often attend an FAA-approved school for two years. They are then eligible to take the FAA licensing exams. The FAA offers separate certifications for airframes and powerplants, but employers prefer to hire technicians who have both.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the median pay for aviation maintenance technicians in the United States is $28 per hour ($56,000 per year) . This means that half of all technicians make less than that, and half make more. The highest 10 percent earn an annual salary of more than $87,500. Like any field, experienced technicians who can perform more specialized tasks generally earn more than those new to the field.
Aircraft mechanics typically do the following:
- Troubleshoot mechanical or electrical problems
- Repair rotors, 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.
Become an Aviation Maintenance Technician
Below are links to find aviation maintenance schools in the United States and Canada.
- U.S. schools for aviation maintenance approved by the FAA
- Canadian schools for aviation maintenance approved by Transport Canada
In the European Union (E.U.), the European Aviation Safety Agency sets the standards for licensing E.U. aviation maintenance technicians. However, aviation authorities of the individual E.U. countries actually oversee the education and licensing of aviation maintenance technicians in their country.