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Becoming a Certifying Aircraft Technician

Civil Aviation is a highly regulated and respected industry controlled by national aviation authorities. To maintain the enviable safety standards that have been established, people working within the industry must be licensed. In other words, just as Pilots are trained and then licensed to fly aircraft, Aircraft Technicians must be trained and licensed to maintain aircraft and then release those aircraft to service.

By ensuring that all maintenance work is properly executed and all Aircraft Technicians are fully trained and regulated, the Aviation Industry (and its governing bodies) aims to maintain the safety of the aircraft and all passengers by keeping the airplanes in airworthy condition.

This aim is not simple to achieve. Aircraft are a complex mixture of systems maintained by an equally complex workforce. For this reason, it is worth your while taking time to understand the licensing process for certifying Aircraft Technicians and the training that you will undertake if you choose Aircraft Engineering as your career.

To ensure safety within the industry, Aircraft Technicians are licensed in the same way as pilots and air traffic controllers. If suitably licensed an Aircraft Technicians can certify the work that has been carried out on an aircraft and return it to service.

This license is known as the Part-66 Aircraft Maintenance License or AML and is valid for 5 years after which it needs to be renewed by the competent authority.

Let’s have a look at the different categories of licenses:

  1. A Line Maintenance Certifying Mechanic is a person who is qualified to work on operational aircraft performing relatively minor maintenance tasks and replacement of parts that are required between major service overhauls and to subsequently certify these tasks; this work is generally done while the aircraft is in service, during turnarounds or overnight. A Category A License is required for this which is issued after passing all the appropriate modules and obtaining the appropriate experience (up to 3 years of appropriate experience and including basic knowledge).

 

  1. A Base Maintenance Certifying Technician is a person who is qualified to work on aircraft that require more complex maintenance tasks or have been withdrawn from service for routine periodic servicing or major overhauls and re-fits and who can then subsequently certify his/her own and other work. A Category B License is required for this, which is issued after passing all the appropriate modules and obtaining the appropriate experience (up to 5years of appropriate experience and including basic knowledge). The Category B License is further divided into specializing categories such as mechanical (B1) and avionics (B2).

Typically the amount of training hours required to complete the license program are:

  • 800hrs for Category A
  • 2400hrs for category B

Now, what disciplines do the Licenses cover?

Category A

A1 – Turbine Engined Aeroplanes

A2 – Piston Engined Aeroplanes

A3 – Turbine Engined Helicopters

A4 – Piston Engined Helicopter

For example: to certify the replacement of a main wheel on a CJ3 (during line maintenance), a Category A1 license is required.

Category B

B1.1 – Turbine Engined Aeroplanes

B1.2 – Piston Engined Aeroplanes

B1.3 – Turbine Engined Helicopters

B1.4 – Piston Engined Helicopters

B2 – Avionic

B3 – Piston engine non-pressurized aircraft below 2,000kg mass

For example: to certify the replacement of the landing gear on a Falcon 7X, a category B1.1 license is required.

How do you get an aircraft type on your AML?

In order to add a category to an AML, a theoretical part and a practical part must be completed.

The theoretical part consists of passing exams of the different modules of basic knowledge in a Part 147 organization. Which modules you need to take exams for depends on the category you apply for.

The practical part consists of demonstrating experience. The required content and duration of your practical experience depends on the category requested and on your previous education. This experience must also be representative and recent.

When both sections are evaluated positively, you can obtain an AML with the requested category endorsed, issued by the competent authority.

If I have my Part-66 AML, can I start working on airplanes?

No. To start working on aircraft and certifying your work, an internal certification authorization within the Part 145 Maintenance Organization is required. This internal certification authorization is based on the procedures described in the Maintenance Organization Exposition (MOE) of the organization.

The Maintenance Organization is responsible to perform a qualification assessment of the individual holding an AML. Typically this assessment will be performed by the Compliance Department of the Maintenance Organization.

Once satisfied you will be granted a document typically called a “Company Authorization” which will identify the privileges.

Wesley Vaerewijck

Compliance Monitoring & Safety Manager