The FAA certificates two separate categories of maintenance technicians: mechanic and repairman. The fundamental difference between these two is that the mechanic certificate is transportable, is issued to the technician based upon his or her training and knowledge, and is not dependent on the technician’s location. Although the repairman certificate is also based upon the training and knowledge of the technician, it is specifically issued to that technician while he or she is employed at a distinct location of a specific company. This certificate carries a literal address where he or she is authorized to work using his or her repairman skills. When the technician is no longer employed there, the repairman certificate must be returned to the Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) that issued it.
Section 65.71, Eligibility Requirements: General
The requirements for obtaining a mechanic certificate are:
- Be at least 18 years of age.
- Be able to read, write, speak, and understand the English language. (Note: If the applicant does not meet this requirement and is employed outside the United States by a U.S. carrier, the certificate will be endorsed “valid only outside the United States.”)
- Have passed all the required tests (written, oral, and practical) within the preceding 24 months from application.
- Possess and demonstrate the appropriate knowledge and skill for the certificate rating being sought.
If a technician has one of the ratings and desires to add the other, he or she must meet the requirements set forth in section 65.77, and take the written, oral, and practical tests within 24 months.
Section 65.73, Ratings
The FAA recognizes two ratings: airframe and powerplant. These may be attained by a person upon successful application and testing either individually or as a combined certificate.
Any person holding an aircraft (A) or aircraft engine (E) certificate prior to June 15, 1952, and which was valid on that date, may exchange it for the corresponding current certificate. If both ratings were held, the A & E certificate may be exchanged for an Airframe and Powerplant (A&P).
Section 65.75, Knowledge Requirements
Any applicant meeting the experience requirements listed in section 65.77 must pass a written test (minimum passing score of 70% as described in section 65.17) covering the construction and maintenance of aircraft. There are three separate tests that the applicant for the A&P certificate must pass: General (60 questions), Airframe (100 questions), and Powerplant (100 questions). Applicable portions of 14 CFR 43 and 91 are also included in the testing. Basic principles for the installation and maintenance of propellers are included with the testing that is administered for the powerplant rating. Successful completion of the written test is required before the candidate may apply for the oral and practical tests identified in section 65.79.
Section 65.77, Experience Requirements
Each mechanic applicant must have a certificate of completion from a certificated aviation maintenance technician school (AMTS) (14 CFR part 147) or provide documented evidence of a minimum of 18 months practical experience related to either airframe or powerplant maintenance (30 months required if applying for certification for both airframe and powerplant).
Section 65.79, Skill Requirements
Oral and practical tests to determine the applicant’s basic knowledge and skills necessary for the certificate or rating sought are required to be completed after the applicant has successfully completed the written test. The practical test additionally requires minor repairs and minor alterations to propellers to be demonstrated as part of the powerplant rating. To assist the applicant, the Aviation Mechanic Practical Test Standards (PTS) have been published by the FAA to provide standards for testing in which the applicant for the A&P certificate should be familiar. The Aviation Mechanic PTS include the subject areas of knowledge and skill for the issuance of an aviation mechanic certificate and/or the addition of a rating. The subject areas are the topics in which aviation mechanic applicants must have knowledge and/or demonstrate skill. The PTS are available on the FAA website at www.faa.gov.
Section 65.80, Certificated Aviation Maintenance Technician School Students
Whenever satisfactory evidence is shown to the FAA that a student enrolled in an aviation maintenance technician school (certificated under part 147) is making satisfactory progress, that student may take the oral and practical tests required by section 65.79, prior to completing the school’s approved curriculum (as required by section 65.77) and prior to taking the written test required by section 65.75.
Section 65.81, General Privileges and Limitations
Once a technician becomes a certificated mechanic, he or she may perform or supervise the maintenance, preventive maintenance, or alterations of an aircraft or appliance (or part thereof) for which he or she is rated. However, he or she is not permitted to perform major repair or major alterations to propellers nor accomplish any repair to or alteration of instruments. These activities are reserved for certificated repairmen at an authorized repair station. Also, he or she may not supervise the maintenance, preventive maintenance, or alteration of any aircraft or appliance (or part thereof) for which he or she is rated, unless he or she has satisfactorily performed this work at an earlier date. This is where the benefit of keeping an on the job training (OJT) log cannot be overemphasized. Whether the technician attends a part 147 maintenance training school or receives the required number of months as practical experience, he or she has only scratched the surface of the tremendously complex world of aviation maintenance. The technician must either work with someone (like a shop mentor) or must perform the task satisfactorily for the FAA. The certified mechanic must have and be able to comprehend the maintenance manuals and/ or instructions for continued airworthiness for the task he or she is accomplishing.
Section 65.83, Recent Experience Requirements
In addition to having the proper documentation, the mechanic is required by this regulation to have recent and relevant work experience. Although, as it was stated earlier in this chapter, the A&P certificate is valid until it is surrendered, suspended, or revoked, it may not be exercised if the holder has not been actively working as a mechanic for at least 6 of the preceding 24 months.
This activity can be any one or a combination of the following:
- Served as a mechanic under the certificate and rating
- Technically supervised other mechanics
- Supervised (in an executive capacity) the maintenance or alteration of an aircraft
Section 65.85, Airframe Rating: Additional Privileges
A mechanic who holds an airframe rating may approve and return to service an airframe, an appliance, or any related part after he or she has performed, supervised, or inspected minor repairs or alterations. He or she may also perform the maintenance actions required for a major repair or alteration, and should initiate the appropriate form (FAA Form 337, Major Repair and Alteration) associated with that work. However, the return to service action must be accomplished by a certificated A&P technician holding an Inspection Authorization (IA). (Refer to 14 CFR section 65.95.) The airframe mechanic is also authorized to perform the 100-hour inspection (if required per 14 CFR part 91 section 91.409) on the airframe.
A certificated mechanic with an airframe rating can approve and return to service the airframe of an aircraft with a special airworthiness certificate, in the light-sport category (refer to 14 CFR part 21, section 21.190) after performing and inspecting a major repair or major alteration. The work must have been done on products that are not produced under FAA approval (i.e., are not type certificated) and must have been performed in accordance with instructions developed by the manufacturer or person acceptable to the FAA.
Section 65.87, Powerplant Rating: Additional Privileges
Similarly, a mechanic holding a powerplant rating has the same limitations imposed regarding the powerplant and propeller as the airframe technician has on the airframe rating. He or she may perform and return to service minor repairs or alterations. He or she may also accomplish the work activities required for a major repair or alteration, but the work must be signed off for return to service by an IA. The privilege of performing a 100-hour inspection (if required by 14 CFR part 91) on a powerplant or propeller is also authorized.
A certificated mechanic with a powerplant rating can approve and return to service the powerplant or propeller of an aircraft with a special airworthiness certificate, in the light-sport category (refer to 14 CFR part 21, section 21.190) after performing and inspecting a major repair or major alteration. The work must have been done on products that are not produced under FAA approval (i.e., are not type certificated) and must have been performed in accordance with instructions developed by the manufacturer or person acceptable to the FAA.
Section 65.89, Display of Certificate
Once a technician receives his or her mechanic certificate, the certificate must be kept in the immediate area where he or she normally conducts work and exercises the privileges of the certificate. When requested, the technician is required to present the certificate for inspection to the FAA, or any authorized representation from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), or any federal, state, or local law enforcement officer.