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What Is Airframe & Powerplant (A&P)? - Ultimate Guide

Apr 19, 2023 ·

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The aviation industry is highly valuable to our society. It drives economic growth, permits international trade, transports important cargo and connects people across the globe.

Our reliance on aviation has placed a demand for airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanic skills. A&P mechanics are responsible for maintaining and repairing many aircraft components, including reciprocating engines, turbine engines and more.

A&P mechanics are detail-oriented, enjoy a challenge and prefer working with their hands. Keep reading to learn more about what airframe and powerplant mechanics do and the training required to enter the field.

What Is Airframe and Powerplant?

Airframe and powerplant mechanics service an aircraft’s physical components, such as its body, engine, landing gear and electrical systems.

The term airframe specifies the body of the aircraft, while the term powerplant specifies the engine. Most A&P mechanics service both, in addition to their related components, but others specialize in one of the two.

Airframe and powerplant mechanics perform their duties in compliance with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Doing so helps them ensure the fleets they attend to remain safe for flying. Let’s discuss their duties a bit more in depth.

What Do Airframe and Powerplant Mechanics Do?

Airframe and powerplant mechanics perform routine maintenance to ensure aircraft take off, fly and land safely. As previously mentioned, most A&P mechanics are generalists, meaning they’re familiar with the entirety of an aircraft, from the nose to the tail.

In addition to performing regular maintenance, A&P mechanics also test, diagnose and repair various components and systems within an aircraft. Common A&P mechanic duties include:

  • Inspecting for and diagnosing mechanical and electrical issues.
  • Using tools to replace or repair faulty parts.
  • Testing completed repairs to ensure proper operation.
  • Using non-destructive testing tools to inspect the aircraft’s body and related parts.
  • Inspecting and repairing components, including the wings, brakes, electrical, landing, and air conditioning systems.
  • Maintaining records of maintenance and repair.
  • Adhering to maintenance and safety standards.

A&P mechanics often complete their tasks in a hangar, repair station or on an airfield, so it can be an exciting career for anyone who enjoys working with their hands while on their feet.

How to Become an Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic

Wondering how to become an A&P mechanic? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most mechanics attend a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-approved airframe and powerplant training program before pursuing a career in the industry.

As technology advances, so does the aviation field. Attending an FAA-approved program can give students practice using industry-standard technology. It can also help prepare them to test for an FAA airframe and powerplant license. However, there are a few prerequisites to becoming FAA licensed.

FAA Airframe and Powerplant License

According to the FAA, candidates interested in taking the certification exam must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Be able to read, write, speak and understand English.
  • Have at least 18 months of practical experience surrounding A&P practices, tools and equipment, or
  • Graduate from an FAA-approved aviation technician school.

To pass the licensing test, candidates must be familiar with Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations and pass the written, oral and practical portions of the test.

There are three written tests offered – a general knowledge test, an airframe test and a powerplant test. All candidates must take the general knowledge written test. However, they may choose to take either the airframe test, powerplant test or both.

An airframe license certifies mechanics to work on the aircraft body while a powerplant license certifies them to work on the engine. The BLS reports that employers may prefer candidates with both airframe and powerplant certifications, meaning they can service the entire aircraft.

Airframe and Powerplant Training

As previously mentioned, attending an FAA-approved airframe and powerplant training program can prepare graduates to test for FAA licensing and pursue a career in aviation.

MIAT College of Technology (part of the UTI family of schools) in Canton, Michigan, and Houston, Texas, currently offers a 20-month Airframe and Powerplant Technician certificate/diploma program as well as a 24-month Aviation Maintenance Technician degree program.80 Pending FAA approval, an 18-month Airframe and Powerplant diploma program is coming to UTI’s Avondale, Arizona, Long Beach, California, and Miramar, Florida, campuses.79

The curriculum for these programs has been developed with the help of industry leaders, so students can rest assured they're receiving industry-aligned instruction and hands-on practice relevant to their chosen career path.1 Students learn to service several different aircraft through the following airframe and powerplant courses:33

  • Non-Destructive Testing
  • Sheetmetal and Welding Familiarization
  • Assembly and Rigging, Airframe Fire Protection
  • Airframe Electrical I and II
  • Navigation and Communication
  • Hydraulics and Pneumatics
  • Reciprocating Engine Operation
  • Propellers
  • Powerplant Lubrication Systems
  • Turbine Engine Designs
  • Non-Metallic Structures
  • Paints and Finishes

Most of our grads start out working as entry-level technicians or in other entry-level roles. As with any industry, over time, you may be able to advance in your career with hard work. Keep reading to learn more about a career as an airframe and powerplant mechanic.

Airframe and Powerplant Career Outlook

Most graduates of FAA-approved programs are prepared to pursue aviation mechanic careers as entry-level aircraft mechanics. Entry-level mechanics conduct scheduled maintenance, perform inspections per the FAA, diagnose electrical and mechanical issues and repair and replace various aircraft components. Aircraft mechanics can work for airlines, commercial airfields that specialize in package delivery or the military.

According to the BLS, there’s a demand for mechanics across the nation. Total aviation technician employment in the United States is expected to exceed 139,000 by 2031.71


Airframe and Powerplant FAQ

Is Being an Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic Worth It?

A&P mechanics hold valuable skills that are in demand across the nation. It can be an exciting career for problem-solvers who enjoy overcoming challenges, are detail-oriented and are mechanically inclined.

Can You Service Aircraft Without an Airframe and Powerplant License?

Yes, but only under the supervision of a certified A&P mechanic. Once the work is complete, the supervisor will have to approve it.

Train to Become an Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic

The airframe and powerplant program coming to UTI pending FAA approval is designed to prepare graduates to apply and test for FAA certification and pursue entry-level aviation careers.79 Throughout their training, students gain hands-on practice facilitated by expert instructors that have experience in the field.

In less than two years, they can gain the entry-level skills that many employers are seeking in a candidate, including knowledge of current technology and FAA standards.

Ready to get started? Request more information online, and we’ll connect you to an Admissions Representative! 

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1) UTI and MIAT are educational institutions and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

2) For program outcome information and other disclosures, visit for UTI and for MIAT.

33) Courses vary by campus. For details, contact the program representative at the campus you are interested in attending.

71) The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that total national employment for Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians will be 139,800 by 2031. See Table 1.2 Employment by detailed occupation, 2021 and projected 2031, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,, viewed October 13, 2022. The Airframe & Powerplant and Aviation Maintenance Technology programs prepare graduates to pursue entry-level careers in the aviation industry or related fields. Graduates are eligible to apply and test for an FAA-issued mechanic certificate. Career options may be limited without an FAA-issued mechanic certificate, and salaries may be lower. UTI and MIAT are educational institutions and cannot guarantee employment, salary, or FAA certification.

79) Pending FAA approval, UTI aviation maintenance programs prepare graduates to apply and test for FAA mechanic certification. Graduates who don’t obtain certification may have fewer career opportunities. Some graduates get jobs in aviation or related industries other than as aviation maintenance technicians. UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment, salary or FAA certification.

80) MIAT aviation programs prepare graduates to pursue entry-level careers in the aviation industry or related fields. Graduates are eligible to apply and test for an FAA-issued mechanic certificate. Career options may be limited without this certificate. Some graduates get jobs other than aviation maintenance technician such as turbine or field technicians. MIAT is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

Universal Technical Institute of Illinois, Inc. is approved by the Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.


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