Helicopter Mechanic Job Description
As the job title implies, helicopter mechanics repair and maintain helicopters. This is a skilled position that requires a high level of technical and mechanical aptitude, along with specialized training. Helicopter mechanics typically work in hangers at airfields and follow standard day shift hours. Helicopter mechanics usually report directly to a lead helicopter mechanic or flight hangar manager.
Helicopter Mechanic Duties and Responsibilities
While a helicopter mechanic’s duties and responsibilities are determined by the type of helicopters they maintain and the specific hangar they work in, there are many core tasks associated with the role. Based on our analysis of the position, these include:
Inspect Helicopters Regularly
The bulk of a helicopter mechanic’s time is spent performing regular inspections on all the helicopters in their hangar. These inspections are performed slowly and methodically, and helicopter mechanics are often required to follow specific inspection regulations.
Troubleshoot and Diagnose Potential Problems
As helicopter mechanics identify potential problems, they perform troubleshooting and diagnosis processes to narrow down their causes. These processes often include following specific, step-by-step actions and using specialized tools.
Perform Necessary Maintenance
After problems have been diagnosed, helicopter mechanics perform the necessary repairs to correct them. This needs to be done in a timely manner so helicopters aren’t grounded for too long. Helicopter mechanics are also responsible for performing scheduled maintenance such as oil changes.
Communicate with Pilots
Helicopter mechanics communicate often with helicopter pilots to learn how well the helicopter is performing. Pilots also notify mechanics of problems they encounter during their flights, and mechanics start troubleshooting immediately.
Make Retirement Recommendations
After a certain amount of time flying, a helicopter needs to be retired for safety reasons. Helicopter mechanics are responsible for making these recommendations based on previous maintenance, repairs, and flight time.
Helicopter Mechanic Skills and Qualifications
Helicopter mechanics are technically and mechanically minded individuals. They understand the intricacies of engines and aviation. Employers look to hire candidates who possess the following skills and qualifications:
- Previous aviation experience – helicopter mechanics are knowledgeable in their field, and they possess at least some experience working on aircraft in previous positions. This can include planes, but most employers prefer previous helicopter mechanic experience
- Previous mechanic experience – experience working on any kind of mechanical engine is always helpful. All engines function on the same basic premise, and candidates who already have mechanic experience can learn new skills
- Troubleshooting – helicopter mechanics are skilled troubleshooters and know how to methodically approach a problem to identify its source
- Critical thinking – helicopter mechanics can think about the big picture and identify how problems in one area may affect the entire helicopter. They also know how to pay close attention to details
- Communication skills – taking care of a helicopter is more than a one-person job. Helicopter mechanics need to constantly communicate with pilots, other mechanics, and hangar managers to ensure everyone is aware of performed maintenance
Tools of the Trade
Helicopter mechanics work with a variety of different tools as part of their daily routine, including:
- Aviation mechanic tools (socket wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, etc.)
- Aircraft diagnostic tools
Helicopter Mechanic Education and Training
Helicopter mechanics must undergo extensive training as required by the Federal Aviation Association (FAA). This includes certification courses, which must be completed successfully before becoming a helicopter mechanic. Training typically includes a full 18 months of practical experience and attendance at an FAA-approved Aviation Maintenance Technician program.
Once on the job, helicopter mechanics may undergo additional training so they become familiar with the specific helicopters at the hangar where they work.
Helicopter Mechanic Salary and Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), helicopter mechanics fall under the aviation mechanics and service technicians category. Employees in this category can expect to make an average yearly salary of $63,000. Those with more experience can earn more, making upward of $93,000 per year. Those just starting out can expect to earn a little less, making around $36,000 per year. Helicopter mechanics are typically eligible to receive benefits from their employers, including health insurance and paid time off.
The BLS reports that this industry can expect to experience job growth of 5 percent over the next 10 years, which is an average growth rate when compared to other industries. As the aviation industry continues to expand, so will the need for more mechanics.
Read through some of these helpful resources to learn more about the duties and responsibilities of helicopter mechanics:
Federal Aviation Association: Mechanics – this is the official website of the FAA, and it contains a wealth of information about aviation mechanics and the requirements to become one. This is a great starting place for anyone new to the industry. You can find information here about certifications, safety advisories, and regulations and policies
Aviation Professionals – this is a LinkedIn group with over 170,000 members. It’s a great place to network with other like-minded individuals. If you want to get information from someone working directly in the field, don’t hesitate to check out this helpful and friendly online networking group
Standard Aircraft Handbook for Mechanics and Technicians – this guide is a must-have for all aircraft mechanics, including helicopter mechanics. This is the book most trusted by the industry to contain up-to-date information about maintaining and repairing aircraft. It covers topics like the proper use of tools, corrosion detection, and riveting, among others
General Test Guide 2018 – this book focuses on giving you the resources you need to pass the FAA certification tests to become a certified aviation mechanic. It reviews common questions and provides practice tests with answers. This is a good resource to use while you’re getting ready for the certification exams
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