Aircraft Maintenance (line or hangar)

I don’t generally mention my career path to people.  I generally say I work for the airlines and kind of move on in the subject matter if possible.  I am most certainly not ashamed of my career path and I love my job and career field.  So what am I talking about?

I am an A&P (Airframe and Powerplant) mechanic.  I am also reasonably experienced in Avionics (Aviation Electronics).  In more recent years we are referred to as Aircraft Maintenance Technicians.  In other countries we are Aircraft Engineers.  Overall – the general public can’t relate to my career field!

This picture probably describes it best:

amt

There is so much truth in this picture it is hard to even explain. …

Somehow when you refer to yourself as an Aircraft Mechanic/Maintenance Technician/ Aircraft Maintenance Engineer .. you have some sort of status …

All of the ‘titles above’ refer to the exact same profession but you can see that just by the variety in terminology for the exact same job – not an easy profession to explain and others to grasp.

Whenever someone starts asking about my job and all the cool intricacies I start with the worst system in the entire aeroplane.  Every mechanic, engineer, technician out there has a similar dread for this system yet it is the one system that every passenger passively counts on inadvertently.

Are you thinking flight controls, engines, hydraulics?  We don’t dread on those systems – there is no job worse on any aircraft (that has them) than the lavatory!

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I only mention this as a reality check!

The title of my post mentions ‘line or hangar’ these are two completely different breeds of technicians.  Hangar & line mechanics are are both highly skilled technicians.  The hangar technicians are ones who tend to specialise a little more so than say a line mechanic.  We are all to some degree, sheet-metal, avionics, airframe, powerplant mechanics.  Hangar mechanics however are more likely to be assigned work based on their skill level and preference in general.  Hangar technicians/mechanics/engineers prefer the indoors and big rollaway toolboxes.  In general they have the luxury of time and light!  And as far as most line mechanics are concerned – we don’t envy or want your job.  We share a mutual respect for our chosen paths -line vs hangar…

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Hangar mechanics have deadlines but in general they do not operate with urgency.  Usually hangar work falls into 2 categories: work that requires less wind, may take more than 6-8 hours, or is an intensive thorough overhaul as in lots of panels removed and the need for a lot of light, specialised inspections and in general TIME.

Line Maintenance Technicians/Engineers live in the unexpected and unknown.  I don’t mean unknown in the sense of not knowing what we are doing but rather the unknown in terms of knowing what our job will be for the moment, the hour, the day! Line mechanics deal with live flights.  We deal with aircraft that needs to depart and keep schedules and passengers on time.  In general we have between 20-45 minutes of ground time to solve whatever the pilot discrepancy(ies) may be.  A typical day for a line mechanic could be as easy as a quick ‘gate call’.  Most easy calls are oil top off, hydraulic fluid top off, window wash.  Just like a gas station attendant’s job of old.   But then there are the ‘cockpit chats’, and the OBTW (Oh By The Way) calls.   The cockpit chat calls are ones I love and dread.  These are the unknowns!  They could involve a wide variety of things from engine issues, to cabin easy issues, window washes, electronics … you just never know!  I have learned humilty in this job.  When I really don’t know the answer I ask/and always look it up!   Our maintenance manual references are our bible and nothing can replace the Maintenance Manual!  Truly!  The FAA requires it and as mechanics … we appreciate it!

A recent gate call of one of my fellow mechanics resulted in an engine change.  We take it all very seriously!   Safety is no accident!


My toolbox…similar w/out the toolsrange canti

Writing 101 Day 4: (part 3)… other things gained

Continued from Part 2

As far as some things this experience has taught me.  Slow down!  Don’t rush!  I’ve had to move slower over the last few years.  I’ve witnessed the way those who don’t walk fast enough are rushed around and almost pushed aside by everyone in such a hurry.

Did I used to be like that?

I’ve been on the way to the checkout stand in a grocery store hobbling on crutches and using the shopping cart as my second crutch only to have someone in such a hurry rush to be in front of me -not realising or caring how much pain it was for me to even get to the line let alone stand in it.

DISParkingMy speed has finally picked up.  I can walk (without any crutches) into a grocery store now and don’t have to park in the handicapped spot to do it.  I have learned to be patient and gracious.  I want to think I always was but now, every time I pass someone who is moving slower, I make sure I am passing them with respect and care and certainly don’t place myself in a position to make their situation harder.

I know I am a better person for having had to slow down.  A loss of true mobility that I am seeing regained has given me appreciation and gratitude for so many of those simple things we take for granted.  The walks on the beach with my dogs is a highlight of one of the things my mobility and I enjoy but the grander picture of walking at all is something I no longer take for granted!

(Assignment from Writing101) – Part 3

Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.

This doesn’t need to be a depressing exercise; you can write about that time you lost the three-legged race at a picnic. What’s important is reflecting on this experience and what it meant for you — how it felt, why it happened, and what changed because of it.

Today’s twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.

Writing 101 Day 4: (part 2)… other things gained

Click here to read part 1

I’ve been practicing walking lately as part of my recovery plan.  A local beach, Crissy Field, has proved very therapeutic for both myself and the pups.  I can’t tolerate walking with shoes on the beach.  Much more painful.  Walking barefoot though is just about the right amount balance training (yes you do use balance muscles when you walk barefoot on the sand) for my foot retraining.  A day at Pt. Isabel last week (another large outdoor dogpark) reminded me of the absolute need to watch where you walk!

Gopher holes everywhere as it turns out tweaked my ankle a bit in the walk but again making me stronger though cautious.  It did not put me back on crutches just made me realise I can’t rush the walking by overdoing it especially when it comes to uneven ground.  One day at a time seems the best foot forward!

 

Every experience we are faced with does help us grow and become better people.  I do believe that this is at least the opportunity given us when faced with those challenges that want to drag us down and incapacitate.  My next post will be about some of the lessons learned …

(Assignment from Writing101) –Part 2

Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.

This doesn’t need to be a depressing exercise; you can write about that time you lost the three-legged race at a picnic. What’s important is reflecting on this experience and what it meant for you — how it felt, why it happened, and what changed because of it.

Today’s twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.

Writing 101 Day 4: (part1) Something lost …but …

cast cover for the shower
cast cover for the shower

About 3 years ago I started having troubles with one of my feet.  Heel pain mis-diagnosed as plantar fasciitis eventually became stabbing pain in ankle joint and concluded (almost anyhow) with tendon transfer surgery.  Tendon transferred from one of my toes to inner ankle.  Three years of lost/limited mobility and limited duty at work at times seemed like a never ending journey.  The light at the end of the tunnel approaches as I have finally been able to relinquish the 9+ months of crutches and two casts.  Walking has seemed much more normal though not completely pain free. The ability to stand for decent periods of time, and walk far enough to no longer need the handicapped placard on a regular basis is a true freedom that at times seemed out of reach.

What good could possibly come from losing true mobility for practically 3 years?

To be continued… part 2 

 

(Assignment from Writing101) –Part 1

Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.

This doesn’t need to be a depressing exercise; you can write about that time you lost the three-legged race at a picnic. What’s important is reflecting on this experience and what it meant for you — how it felt, why it happened, and what changed because of it.

Today’s twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.