Wood, Fabric & Dope

Three words that make most aircraft maintenance professionals cringe, unless of course you make your living repairing fabric covered & wooden framed aircraft.

The curriculum which prepares prospective Airframe and Powerplant students for FAA certification hasn’t been revised to reflect the advanced technologies which make up today’s modern aircraft. Surprising as it may seem, it’s just another area in which we’ve procrastinated, and now we’re feeling the negative effects of those decisions.

I regularly ask aircraft maintenance training instructors and management teams about the level of preparedness that they see from newly-certificated A&Ps, and the answers aren’t particularly rosy. Consider this: I asked a regional airline manager of maintenance training a few pointed questions, here are his answers.

Q: How long does it take to reach a level of comfort with new mechanics that they’ll be a) safe and b) minimally productive?

A: Anywhere from six to eighteen months.

Q: When you visit an A&P training facility, what percentage of those students “make it” as AMT’s?

A: 25-40%

Q: Why do you think that so many A&P students struggle?

A: “I think they lacked growing up in an environment in which they fixed lawnmowers and built their own go-karts and mini-bikes”. (This sentiment is often echoed by highly experienced mechanics and managers)

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