If you’ve been looking into becoming an aviation mechanic, chances are you’ve seen the acronyms AMT and AME- among many others- floating around. These stand for Aviation Maintenance Technician and Aviation Maintenance Engineer. One of the most popular questions aviation mechanics get asked is if there’s a difference between them. In fact, based off name alone, most people will assume that being an AME is better because they think engineers have more education or do more work than technicians or mechanics.
What’s in a name?
Whether you call them an AMT or an AME, there’s no difference between them! In fact, there are many names for the men and women that perform maintenance on aircraft, including:
- Aircraft Engineer
- Aircraft Mechanic
- Aircraft Technician
- Aviation Engineer
- Airframe and Powerplant Technician
- A&P Mechanic
- Aircraft Maintenance Technician
- Aircraft Maintenance Engineer
- Aviation Maintenance Technical Engineer
- And of course, Aviation Maintenance Technician and Aviation Maintenance Engineer
Those that do argue the differences, are usually from different countries, or even work at different airports. Because all of these terms are so interchangeable, different countries and different airports will refer to their workers by any number of these. There is also such a vast difference in what they are called because the aviation industry is not governed by one single organization. Each country has their own particular aviation authority or agency that they must abide to.
What is the difference between an Avionics and Aircraft Maintenance Technician?
Unlike AMT and AME, avionics and aircraft are not interchangeable. Although an AMT can diagnose and repair mechanical and electrical problems on an aircraft, avionics technicians specialize in the electronic instruments that are used in the aircraft. These electronic instruments include radio communication devices and equipment, radar systems, and navigation aids. They will run cables, mount antennas, and connect instruments that will aid in engine monitoring. If you love watching movies on planes, avionics technicians are also responsible for passenger entertainment systems! Unlike aircraft mechanics, there’s only really the one term for avionics technicians.
What do AMTs and AMEs do?
Although there are some that would argue that those terms are all different, no matter what name they go by, everyone in these positions have the same duties and responsibilities. To put it simply, AMTs repair, replace, and maintain aircraft. They perform scheduled maintenance and functional checks on all the different aircraft systems including the hydraulic and pneumatic systems and the electrical systems.
The top priority of an AMT is to ensure aircraft safety and airworthiness. They need to make sure that both passengers and crew will be safe aboard the aircraft that they have inspected and maintained.
All aircraft are regularly inspected by AMTs, this is called scheduled maintenance. This can include testing parts with diagnostic equipment, reviewing maintenance logs, and replacing defective parts. Scheduled maintenance is performed at regular intervals. The time between maintenance checks can include:
- Hours flown
- Days since last inspection
- Amount of flights
- Combination of all of these
However, there is also what is called unscheduled maintenance. These can be any unexpected repairs to the wings, brakes, electrical systems, the body of the aircraft, or any other systems.
The maintenance performed by AMTs can range from small tasks that can be accomplished with hand or power tools before takeoff to larger tasks that require the bulk of the aircraft to be taken apart. No matter the scale of the repair, everything is recorded in aircraft logs. These logs will also contain information on inspections, tasks, and regular maintenance performed. The more information in an aircraft’s logbook, the easier it is to understand its maintenance history. Everyone who reads the log must be able to understand what has been done to the craft.
How to Become an AMT
There are two ways you can become an AMT. To become an AMT you need not only training but experience. One of the ways you can do this is by on-the-job training. This is usually the most inexpensive way to get the required experience needed to become an AMT. You will need to keep detailed logs of all your experience. On-the-job training can be done either through military service or even as a civilian. The FAA may grant you credit for your military aviation maintenance experience, although you will need to go through an evaluation.
The other way to become an AMT is to attend an FAA certified Aviation Maintenance Technician School (AMTS). These schools will train prospective aviation maintenance technicians for careers in the airline industry, aviation maintenance facilities, and commercial and general aviation. It is also possible that these schools will help you get your Airframe and/or Powerplant Certification. Depending on what rating of certification you want, estimated completion time is between 18 and 24 months.
One such AMT school is North Central Institute. If you’d like to learn more about the process to become an AMT or AME, contact us today!