A jet mechanic is a specific type of aircraft mechanic that performs maintenance on airplanes that are equipped with gasoline turbine jet engines. Jet mechanics perform maintenance on jets for commercial airlines, the government and private companies. They are responsible for performing preventative maintenance such as inspections and fluid changes and for repairing faulty equipment that they have noticed or has been reported by the flight crew.
All jet mechanics must be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). A license from the FAA is called an Airframe and Power Plant license (A&P). Although the Airframe and Power Plant licenses may be earned separately, the majority of jet mechanics will obtain both. The licenses are obtained after a series of oral, written and practical exams administered by the FAA. Licensees may also choose to specialize in areas such as engines, hydraulics or electrical systems.
Mechanics who attend an FAA-certified A&P school are eligible to take the tests when they graduate, and those who choose not to attend an FAA-certified A&P school are required to have 18 months of practical experience. Even though an FAA license may be obtained by hands-on experience, it is important to note that most employers prefer to hire an A&P jet mechanic who already has his license, so it is often a better choice to attend a structured program through an FAA-certified school. Jet mechanics who are not licensed or only able to work under the direct supervision of an A&P certified mechanic and are not able to sign off on any repairs or inspections.
Although the captain of the aircraft is the pilot-in-command and has complete authority over the airplane he is flying, the jet mechanic is ultimately responsible for keeping the airplane in perfect flying condition. Specific responsibilities include inspecting and repairing engines, landing gear, brakes, valves and pumps. The instruments are the only items a jet mechanic may not repair, because additional FAA licenses are required to become an avionics technician certified to repair aircraft instruments.
In addition to inspection and repair, a jet mechanic is required to keep all the maintenance records for an airplane. The FAA has strict requirements for inspections based on the number of hours and the number of calendar days that an airplane has flown. Mechanics record the hours an airplane has flown and are responsible for signing off on the record for any repairs or inspections they have completed.