Career Story: Military Airplane Electronics Technician

Military Airplane Electronics Technician

Job Title: Aircraft Integrated Systems Mechanic

Type of Company: I work for the federal government as a federal technician supporting 14 states and the District of Columbia and their Guard fleet of aviation assets. My home base is at the Groton/New London airport .

Education: 36 credit hours towards AS, Aircraft Maintenance

Previous Experience: I started as multiple-launch rocket system repairer in the Army. and changed to the guard and aviation field for helicopters. I'm now a full-time aviation technician.

Job Tasks: I can break my job down into two distinct sections. The first section is working the flight line or, simply put, working directly on the aircraft. When the pilot or crew chief write up faults with the aircraft, it is the mechanic's job to go and check it out. This usually consists of trying to duplicate and confirm the fault they've reported and then isolate and fix it. Many times the fault can be determined and fixed, or at least parts ordered from this step. Many times however you can find the fault with a component, say a radio receiver/transmitter, and then you have to bring the component into a side shop to test and repair it. This is what we call "side shop" or "bench" work. Again through proper troubleshooting and testing procedures you should be able to isolate the fault to the circuit card or component level -- to a transistor, resistor, or simply a fuse. When you find the problem you determine if you have the new parts on hand or if you have to order the parts or a whole new component. Once you have the old component fixed and tested or a whole new one then you have to install it on the aircraft. From here you do the proper test procedures to ensure that it is working properly on the aircraft and then sign off on the work.

I forgot to mention the tons of paperwork you have to complete to document each and every move you make.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: I would say the best part of my job is the satisfaction it brings me when some new electronic fault occurs on the aircraft that is not in any book or troubleshooting manual and I am able through reasoning and experience to fix the problem.

The worst part of my job is that I have to also be in the National Guard as a federal technician. The jobs in and of themselves are great but this deploying every few years is a real problem. I myself have been deployed three times in 18 years.

Job Tips:
1. As always education is an awesome tool. If you can find an aeronautical school or something equivalent to further your aviation knowledge, earn that Associates degree (or even higher).

2. Earn an A&P (Airframe and Power plant) license. Though not required by the military, it's a must-have in civilian aviation if you want to move beyond mechanics helper.

3. Education, education, education!!! I can not stress this enough. You can always change your career but you can never unlearn what you have been taught. You take your education and learning wherever you go.

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