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How to Become a Composite Mechanic

If you love working on aircraft, becoming a composite mechanic could be a career choice you enjoy. As a composite mechanic, you’ll be working on mechanic repairs and replacing the composite components of aircraft. You may need to be familiar with working on aircraft wings, pylons, fuselages, and nacelles. On top of that, you’ll be working with many different materials, including carbon fiber, fiberglass, and even Kevlar.

Composite mechanics have a strong understanding of metal and alloys. This is a fairly complicated job, and you need to not be afraid of heights since you may need to work high up. You may also work with hazardous materials, so you will need to be able to follow standards on how to dispose of these during your work. This job requires engineering skills, math skills, and the ability to work independently and quickly. If you have these skills, you may make a good composite mechanic.

Sample job description

A composite mechanic is needed for [Your Company Name]. We are looking for a composite mechanic to repair and maintain our aircraft during the week. You will also be required to fabricate and order replacement parts of the aircraft as needed. This position will be full-time with benefits. This position requires a strong mechanical knowledge, the ability to understand, troubleshoot, and fix problems with aircraft, and previous experience in a similar field. You must have a comprehension of common aircraft manuals and materials, as well as the ability to work and move and lift a required amount. Micro-mechanics are also a plus, as an intimate understanding of this will come in handy in this position. We look forward to your application at 4 Corner!

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Inspect aircraft composite components for wear, warping, cracks, and leaks
  • Analyze and understand aircraft blueprints, specifications, and maintenance manuals to make repairs
  • Conduct maintenance operations like removing and replacing aircraft and power plant components, including wings, pylons, fuselages, and nacelles
  • Fabricate replacement parts as needed
  • Ensure all repairs are up to FAA and manufacturer specifications
  • Order supplies, equipment, materials, and parts for repairs and general maintenance
  • Keep detailed records of inspections, maintenance, repairs, and parts inventory

Education and experience

This position requires a high school diploma or equivalent and an Airframe and Powerplant License certificate from a program approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Some companies may require aviation engine mechanic candidates to have an associate degree.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Analytical, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills
  • Teamwork and interpersonal communication skills
  • Mechanical aptitude and ability to understand engineering documents and schematics
  • Knowledge of metal, alloys, composite materials, aircraft adhesives, and sealants
  • Strong hand-eye coordination and proficiency in using tools
  • Sufficient physical strength and dexterity to climb on aircraft and manipulate replacement parts
  • Knowledge of the use, handling, and disposal of hazardous materials
  • High-level organization skills

Preferred qualifications

  • Show a continued aptitude for new assigned work
  • Ability to perform basic to intermediate mathematical functions
  • Meet all regulatory requirements per FAR 65
  • High School education or equivalent and one year experience as a service technician

Typical work environment

Aviation composite mechanics (ACMs) are required to maintain and repair the composite aspects of any given aircraft, including the wings and fuselages. The aviation composite mechanic will be working long hours without returning to their desk depending on the repair required. There is a potential that the mechanic will be required to be on call depending on the position and the urgency of the repair needed. An aviation composite mechanic should have a strong sense of mechanics as well as relevant certifications to their field, and be able to communicate the problems to any fabricators required in the process of repairing the aircraft.

Typical hours

Aviation composite mechanics usually work rotating eight-hour shifts. That means overnight, weekend, and holiday shifts are common in this field.

Available certifications

If a company is hiring an aviation composite mechanic, they will oftentimes look for one or multiple of these certifications:

  • Certificate in Aircraft Composite Materials & Manufacturing. This specialized certificate program covers materials used in aircraft manufacturing and in-depth information covering the manufacturing process behind these composite items. The program also covers micro-mechanics and fabrication assembly. This certification program is broken into three quarters, with a heavy amount of information that will be relevant to the position of a composite mechanic.
  • Mechanical Inspector Certification (CMI). The Mechanical Inspector Certification is a common exam that can certify general mechanical competence and inspection methods for a composite mechanic, which may come into use depending on the specific work environment of the position. This certificate is offered by the American Society for Quality, which is a well-known certification program and offers multiple certificates for similar fields.

Career path

This position requires a high school diploma or its equivalent and an Airframe and Powerplant License certificate from a program approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Some companies may require aviation composite mechanic candidates to have an associate degree. Successful aviation composite mechanics can advance into leadership roles such as lead mechanic, lead inspector, or shop supervisor.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 49-3011

2020 Employment130,100
Projected Employment in 2030145,400
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 12% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift15,300 increase

According to the construction program management firm Hoar Program Management (HPM), composite materials in the aerospace and aviation industries are on the rise. They’re a more fuel-efficient alternative to metals like steel and aluminum. So far, the trend has mostly applied to wide-body jets more than narrow-body aircraft. But, as more manufacturers turn to these materials to manufacture and update modern aircraft, the need for qualified aviation composite mechanics to install, repair, and maintain these components will likely increase.