What Should I Look for in an Airplane Mechanic?
Here’s a list of things you should look for in an airplane mechanic, especially when it comes to aviation certifications and skills.
Your aircraft needs regular maintenance and inspections in order to fly safely. Aircraft have a lot of sensitive parts– avionics, an exhaust system, flight controls, and so much more– all of which require the care and expertise of a highly qualified airplane mechanic to make sure everything is running reliably, smoothly, and at peak performance.
First things first: Make sure that you only deal with an FAA-certified airplane mechanic specializing in powerplant and airframe. Technicians who hold both these certifications are commonly called A&P mechanics.
These highly skilled, highly trained professionals ensure aircraft safety and airworthiness for passenger travel, air cargo and shipping, and much more.
Take note that A&P mechanics who have completed at least three years of experience can pursue additional certification with the FAA. Once granted, they can perform annual inspections and sign off major alterations and repairs.
These are the other things you have to look for in an A&P mechanic.
Good communication skills
To be exact, you and your airplane mechanic should be both good communicators. He should consider your input (and experience while flying the plane that needs to be repaired or checked) to diagnose the problem, and on the other hand, you should listen to his plan of action. Simply put, both parties should try their best to be good listeners.
Imagine that a pilot just barged into a hangar and told a mechanic to fix his plane. This vague instruction could make the repair and maintenance process inefficient, time-consuming, or even expensive.
A good rule of thumb is to explain your issues while flying a plane. Some mechanics even recommend that taking videos (with the use of action cameras like GoPro) during the flight is a great way to document things.
Read: “Common Aircraft Exhaust Problems and How to Fix Them”.
Has a professional shop
Check out the facilities, paying close attention to the cleanliness and the type and size of aircraft inside. If you see that most of the planes are large corporate jets and you fly a monoplane, this shop may not foot the bill.
Ask your fellow pilots, owners, and managers of flying clubs if they can recommend a reputable A&P mechanic. Chances are, they are reliable sources of information since they know exactly the communication skills, knowledge, and work ethics of their technicians.
Read: “Important Things to Check Before You Use Your Aircraft”.
Transparent and honest
A reputable A&P mechanic sees transparency and honesty as the core ethics of his business. For this reason, he makes sure that your invoice includes all the labor, parts, and repair charges.
But as a pilot and plane owner, you must also do your part to avoid inadvertent miscommunication. For instance, always ask your mechanic who is the one responsible for quality control and assurance.
Organized and efficient
You will want to keep track of routine maintenance checks on your own aircraft, especially if inspections resulted in identifying potential issues, repairs, or replacements.
An organized aircraft mechanic should be able to keep your logs and paperwork neat and “structured” so it is easy to perform inspections, maintenance, and repairs in the future.
Read: “Aviation Facts & Questions”.
Good at investigation
What you want is a capable aircraft mechanic with sharp investigation skills. This means knowing exactly what to look for, spotting potential issues before they become real problems for you.
A good mechanic knows how to do an in-depth investigation to learn the root cause of the problem. Oftentimes, this ability comes with years of experience.
A Final Word About Airplane Mechanics
Highly-trained and federally-certified, aircraft mechanics supervise, manage, perform maintenance, inspections, and repairs on aircraft.
Now that you know what to look for in an airplane mechanic, find someone you can work with regularly to take good care of your aircraft, giving the necessary tender loving care to keep it in top shape.
Remember: while there is nothing wrong with upselling and recommendations during routine maintenance, always get a second opinion from a different shop. Or better yet, find another one if your current mechanic always sees major issues every time you take your plane for a routine checkup.