Written by David Cooley
For students in aviation maintenance career training, graduation is an exciting milestone, but it often takes a back seat to the successful earning of the FAA Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) certification. Job seekers will routinely see airlines advertising position openings for maintenance staff with the first requirement always being that sought-after A&P certification card delivered to a mechanic only after successfully attaining the stringent requirements by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). While commercial airlines have often been the first go-to for many newly-certificated individuals searching employment opportunities, according to Tim Murray, Director of Education at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance Norfolk campus, “The A&P is
what I would call a master key. There are so many ways to utilize it.” And he’s not wrong. Passenger travel may be the first thing to come to mind, but it doesn’t stop there. Let’s look at some of the industries in dire need of mechanics with an A&P certification.
At the time of this writing, the world is in the throes of a global pandemic. Most of the world’s economies have been placed on hold, due to shelter-in-place orders. As a result, online shopping has exploded as both a more convenient and a much safer alternative to venturing outside. Forbes reports that, as early as the end of March, online retailers saw a 25% increase in ecommerce while grocery stores saw a doubling of online orders. People looking to purchase everything from gym alternatives, creature comforts, electronics, video games, cloud and streaming services, (not to mention cleaning and disinfecting supplies), increased the need for cargo planes moving products across the country as quickly as possible. Amazon, for example, already had plans in place to increase their shipping fleet to accelerate their Prime Air cargo service. Other shipping companies like UPS and FedEx also saw dramatic increases in demand, reaching historic rates, as recently reported. In fact, the demand for supplies across the country has seen some companies resorting to removing seats from commercial planes just to carry cargo.
Government/ DOD Contractors
Government and Department of Defense Contractor Companies like DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), Northrup Grumman, Lockheed Martin, as well as a slew of smaller sub-contractors, are often in need of certified A&P technicians to overhaul, maintain and repair their proprietary aircraft. Between supersonic manned aircraft, as well as unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) Drone technology, the aerospace industry has also seen a design explosion with vehicles ranging from propellers, helicopters, jets and blimps.
These companies ensure you are prepared to work on their equipment, since much of the product you would be dealing with is entirely proprietary, it’s common knowledge that new hires are properly trained.
NASA has reached new horizons with the successful launch of American astronauts on May 27, 2020 onboard the SpaceX Dragon 2, a private aerospace company founded by Elon Musk. SpaceX, along with other private entrepreneurs like Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson, are aiming to take the first steps into commercializing space travel. As this industry is being invested as we speak, A&P mechanics have the opportunity to be part of the language and culture of something brand new.
Personal Air Taxis & Shipping
While Amazon is currently working to roll out their amazon blimp to do drone deliveries, the business of personal transportation is in the process of a major changes as well, and future-focused A&P technicians may want to pay close attention. Did you know companies like Uber and Lyft are developing new autonomous air transportation via VTOL (Virtical Take Off and Landing)? Companies like Joby are developing manned and unmanned aerial vehicles with 2- and 4-passenger drone-like helicopters and “envision a world freed from the constraints of ground-based transportation”. Started in 2011 in Germany with its maiden test flight, Volocopter was the first to successfully fly their electrically powered personal aircraft and recently introduced its fully electric air taxi for “urban air mobility” as well as its Volodrone, an unmanned heavy-lift cargo drone.
While some museums have non-functioning airplanes dangling from ceilings which are just for show, many Museums around the world take the time and invest the money necessary to offer vintage planes the chance to fly again in airshows. Restoring the past is a passion for many history buffs and eccentric collectors. The Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach, VA for example, prides itself on restoring and maintaining WWI and WWII warbirds full flight capability. The museum also offers biplane rides to guests which take off from the museum’s own airstrip. Every plane on the property is maintained by a team of A&P mechanics with a passion to “keep ‘em flying”.
And there you have it, just a short list of where an A&P certification get you! For more information regarding Aviation Institute of Maintenance, visit AviationMaintenance.edu or call (888) FIX-JETS.
About Aviation Institute of Maintenance
Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM) is a network of aviation maintenance schools with campuses coast-to-coast in the United States and headquarters in Virginia Beach, Va. AIM students are trained to meet the increasing global demand of commercial, cargo, corporate and private aviation employers. AIM graduates are eligible to take the Federal Aviation Administration exams necessary to obtain their mechanic’s certificate with ratings in both Airframe and Powerplant. AIM’s campuses are in the following major metro areas: Atlanta, Charlotte, New York, Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., Kansas City, San Francisco Bay, Orlando, and Norfolk. Visit AviationMaintenance.edu or call (888) FIX-JETS for more information.