How do I document my Experience?

The 4th of a 4 Part Series to A&P Transition

The fourth step to obtaining your FAA A&P Certificate after military service.

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One of the most challenging aspects of the transition from military to civilian maintenance technician is the ability to provide the actual experience that you have gained on aircraft performing maintenance tasks.  Many will express that it is not that important, or that there are plenty of individuals that have achieved their A&P certificates without any form of a log showing all the work that one has performed.

This may be a true statement for many that are currently in the Civil Aviation field.  There are however many technicians out there that have been out of the military for quite some time.  Many have been maintaining military aircraft under contracts that may not require any form of FAA Certification to maintain.

Advisory Circular(AC) 8900.1 Section II includes all the information and requirements to qualify under 14 CFR Part 65 (Airman other than flight crewmembers) for the certification of Airframe and/or Powerplant mechanic/added rating.  Included in this advisory is the information for military experience to count towards practical experience in lieu of an FAA Part 147 school. Section 2, Paragraph 5-1135(H) stipulates that; “Applicants who have not graduated from an FAA-approved AMTS or JSAMTCC A&P certification program and are applying based on military experience must prove that their military aviation experience, gained in 50 percent of subject areas, meets the requirements of part 147”.

The FAA recommends assisting in this requirement that all applicants provide a letter from their Commander, Executive Officer, or Maintenance Officer verifying that they have performed the job tasks outlined in their Military Occupational Skill.  Simply put, the FAA wants to know that you actually did the job that your job code describes. This is not typically a problem for soldiers that are about to transition or soldiers that have recently transitioned. This is an obstacle for many that have been separated from the military for quite some time and have been working on the public side of aviation maintenance.  Since there are many opportunities that exist all over the world to still perform maintenance without FAA Certificates many individuals decide to wait on getting their A&P and then years go by without them realizing it.

The flip side of the coin is that there are still other ways to verify your experience working in aviation maintenance to satisfy the FAA requirements.  Maintaining your own personal log for the work that you have performed is one of the easiest and most accurate accounts for your experience. Click here the log book I recommend on Amazon. Another would be an endorsement letter from another A&P mechanic or IA verifying that you have performed the work under their supervision and meet the time requirements of experience for testing.  

The best way to know what your FSDO wants to see for your experience is to communicate with them directly.   If you want to be part of the industry and get your certificates to exercise your privileges then it pays to build rapport and begin communication as soon as possible.  This will make things easier in the long run.

The process for obtaining your A&P Certificates at times can be challenging and demanding.  Do not let this derail you from your goals. In the end, once you have your certificates, the internal satisfaction of completion is worth the work, research, and studying that is required.     

Here are several points to help you along the way:

  1. Write down your goals of what you want.
  2. Do not allow procrastination to get in the way.
  3. Find a mentor, someone that will assist and push you when needed.
  4. Dedicate the time to study.  YOU are the one that controls this.
  5. Don’t lose focus of your goal.  Keep pushing yourself.
  6. Expand your reach to more goals, IA, DAR, DME.
  7. Never stop learning and gaining new experience.      

What should I study?

The 3rd of a 4 Part Series to A&P Transition

The third step to obtaining your FAA A&P Certificate after military service.

As a member in many Facebook groups or even as a Maintenance Mentor with Helicopter Association International (HAI) Mil2Civ Workshop, time and time again I am asked about what study material one should utilize to complete their A&P written exams and Oral and Practical Test.   As the years have gone by, the means of obtaining the material has changed drastically. There are 3 routes to go by when choosing what is the best course of action for you.

The Limited Budget aspect:

In today’s information age and digital markets, we find ourselves surrounded by apps, eBooks, and website downloads that allow us to be emerged in as much information that we may think we need.  This is the fundamental element of saving money. The digital experience of studying for your exams is a lot more manageable on the financial side of things.

One of the original sources that are available for download to begin the study process is contained within the FAA’s Website. Available to you are the following resources:

  1. Aviation Maintenance Technician Handbook-General
  2. FAA-H-8083-31A, Aviation Maintenance Technician Handbook-Airframe Volumes 1 and 2
  3. FAA-H-8083-32A, Aviation Maintenance Technician Handbook-Powerplant Volume 1
  4. FAA AC 43.13-1B Acceptable Methods, Techniques, and Practices – Aircraft Inspection and Repair
  5. FAA AC 43.13-2B Acceptable Methods, Techniques, and Practices – Aircraft Alterations

These handbooks are free and available for download from the FAA website.

Additionally, a solid investment for studying is the FAR AMT Handbook available from Aviation Supplies and Academics Inc. (ASA)

(FAR AMT Handbook: Available at www.asa2fly.com)  

The Highlighter and Note Taking aspect:

While it is very simple to go the digital route, there are the always available paperback textbooks.   There are several publishers that provide the textbooks for the Part 147 Schools. Among two of the most popular publishers are ASA and Jeppesen.  The normal question that one asks is “Which is better?”. Once again this is the preference of the individual. These books are researched and written based upon the FAA Handbooks.  

These two aspects have their list of pros and cons that come with each one.  Everyone has a different style of learning and a different style of retaining the information that they have learned.  There is also the pros and cons of the testing as well. Your written tests are closed book and closed notes. You are allowed one piece of paper and a pencil to work out any problems during the written tests.  During your Practical Exam, you can utilize all reference material at your disposal. Then, during the Oral Exam, it is again closed book and note.

There will be many debates over what material is required and what is the most beneficial to your success.   The most important factor is to remember that you are investing in your career and your own education. Many Universities offer the same degree programs, and all utilize different course materials to achieve the same accredited outcome.  Only you understand how you learn and retain information for your use down the road. Remember that the ability to reference the material and know where to locate it is one of the most important factors to help you achieve success, especially during your Practical Exam.

Study Guides and Practice Tests:

The final material available for studying are the practice tests and study guides.   Again, these sources are available digitally with ASA Prepware and Test Study Guides.  If you would prefer the paperback approach the Study Guides are available. Prepware has the advantage of allowing you to test yourself anytime anywhere.  You truly discover what your areas of weakness are and allow you to focus in on that subject.

All the reading and studying will not replace the required experience that is demanded by the FAA.   These are tools that are there to assist you in preparing for your written tests. In the end, when you successfully pass your written tests you are required to perform your Oral and Practical Exam with an FAA Designated Maintenance Examiner (DME).  This is the final test to display your knowledge and experience simultaneously to receive your certificates. Your Airframe and Powerplant Certificates should not be taken lightly, after all, it does give you the privileges to return an aircraft to service upon completion of the maintenance that YOU perform.  Your customer’s lives are in your hands.

The last article in the 4-part series covers the most challenging aspect of transitions from military to civilian maintenance technician.  Correctly documenting your aviation maintenance experience for certification.

Where do I Start?

The 2nd of a 4 Part Series to A&P Transition

The second step to obtaining your FAA A&P Certificate after military service.

If you are on the verge of transitioning at the end of your military adventure and are beyond the window of enrollment for the Joint Services Aviation Maintenance Certification Council (JSAMCC) enrollment period. You are not at the end of your rope.  

For many years prior to all other branches jumping on the JSAMCC train. Soldiers, Sailors, and Airman still received their Airframe and Powerplant certificates. The FAA still allows individuals to use their military experience as the basis for qualifying to test and receive their certificates.

Volume 5 Chapter 5 in Advisory Circular (AC) 8900.1 Section II includes all the information and requirements to qualify under 14 CFR Part 65 (Airman other than flight crewmembers) for the certification of Airframe and/or Powerplant mechanic/added rating. This advisory includes all the information about the qualifications. This article is to summarize those requirements and assist you on your path of getting the right information.  

Question 1: Are you in a qualifying military occupation?  

Figure 5-135 of the AC displays the Military Occupational Specialty Codes by the branch of service. By referencing your occupation code, the chart will designate if you are qualified for Airframe, Powerplant or both certifications. THIS IS BY NO MEANS A GUARANTEE. The FAA includes a small note to the Aviation Safety Inspectors (ASI) and the Aviation Safety Technicians (AST) that they are not to accept occupation codes “Carte Blanche” as qualifications to accepting experience. What does that mean? Good question. It means that the ASI or AST is still required to interview you as an applicant. They are required to ensure that you have verifiable experience in 50 percent of the subject areas listed for the rating being sought. Do not allow this to discourage you. 14 CFR Part 147 appendices B, C, and D lay out the experience needed. This is the same subject matter that you will be tested on for your written General, Airframe and Powerplant tests.  

Question 2: Do you have the correct personal documentation?

The very first form that will be required by the FAA will be a valid and positive form of picture identification. This would include a U.S. Driver’s License, Passport, or Military ID. I personally recommend that if you are perusing a career in commercial aviation that you obtain and possess a current Passport. You can never tell where your career may lead you. If you are already separated or retired you, of course, will need a copy of your DD-214. The next document is very important. You should have this whether you are still active or not. Do not depend on your DD-214 to justify your experience. The FAA will request a letter or memorandum from your Executive Officer, Maintenance Officer, or Commander that certifies your length of military service, the amount of time in each occupational skill, and the make and model of aircraft and/or engines that you received your experience in. Yes, the FAA wants to verify that you have not spent 3 years as the tool room custodian. This request should not be taken lightly as the ASI or AST is the designee of the FAA that will authorize you to obtain your certificates. You want to make the application process easy for both of you. The final piece of the puzzle is the information contained in your “I love me” book. Your training records that include any type of aviation schooling and/or an On the Job training record. The more information that you can provide to the inspector the better off you will be. If you have procrastinated in building a professional portfolio book (I love me book) then the time to act on it is now. It will pay dividends in the civilian job search market. Please make a note and remember that time spent in training, does NOT count toward your 18 or 30 months of practical experience. ​

Question 3: When do I pull the trigger?

“I have to get my tickets!”. We have all heard this statement a time or two. “It’s easy, you get your tickets, take your written tests, and then do your oral and practical exam” and poof! You are magically transformed into an Aircraft Maintenance Technician.  This is a brief and all not inclusive statement. So, do not forget the studying and knowledge part that needs to be completed. It is not that difficult if you have all your documentation ready to get your FAA Form 8610-2(Airman Certificate Rating and/or Application) endorsed by the FAA. Once you completed your first test you now have 24 months to complete your knowledge tests that are applicable to your rating: Aviation Mechanic General (AMG), Aviation Mechanic Airframe (AMA), and Aviation Mechanic Powerplant (AMP), as well as your Oral and Practical Skill Test. Please keep in mind that some Part 147 schools average 21 to 24 months for completion with full-time students in attendance for both Airframe and Powerplant Certifications. There is quite a bit of knowledge that needs to be understood and gained.

The final thing to remember is that the FAA specifically outlines that the Flight Standard District Office (FSDO) that issues your FAA Form 8610-2 is the FSDO area or region that the Designated Maintenance Examiner (DME) that conducts your Oral and Practical Examination must be under. To utilize a DME in a different district, you must gain FAA approval.  I cannot emphasize how important this little rule is. An example would be that you get all your documentation approved in Columbus Ohio, then go and take your Oral and Practical in Nashville Tennessee. That is considered a different FSDO district. You MUST have FAA approval to do so.

Question 4: How do arrange my test?

Now what? Congrats on putting forth the time and effort to complete your goal. Here is the checklist for your next action:  

  1. Contact your local Flight Standard District Office (FSDO) of the FAA. You will need to make an appointment with an ASI or AST. FSDO’s are appointment only. You cannot just walk in.  
  2. Complete your originals of FAA Form 8610-2 sections I, II, and III. Print 2 copies to bring with you. Do not sign and date until you are with the ASI or AST.  
  3. Ensure you have your valid and positive form of Picture

Identification.  

  1. DD-214 and Letter of Experience and Knowledge from your Chain of

Command.  

  1. All Training Documents. (Professional Portfolio

Book).  

  1. Dress professional and treat it like a job interview. The FSDO does not know you. The FAA ASI or the AST does not know you. You are creating your own first impression as a civilian professional technician.  

     Once you receive your signed 8610-2 from the FSDO you are now ready to take the next step to complete your written examinations. It would be advisable to complete your written exams one at a time. Have a solid grasp of the material and complete each test before beginning the next.

    The next article will cover the 3 routes you can take when studying for your A&P.

Why should I get my A&P?

The 1st of a 4 Part Series to A&P Transition

The first step to obtaining your FAA A&P Certificate after military service.

That is the question that many ask time and time again. Why does it matter? What does it bring me? It’s just a license to learn, right? Does it satisfy your personal goals?These are all things that are constantly brought out into a conversation when discussing FAA Airframe and PowerPlant Certifications. So, let’s take a few minutes and break this down.

Why does it matter?

In this first question it should be reversed to “Why does it matterto you?” It is true that there are many jobs that exist within the world that you can maintain aircraft without having an FAA Certification. However, is that where you want to be? Is that the market that you want to stay in? Even the military is slowly requiring FAA A&P certification to maintain their newer aircraft. Why? Previously aircraft were designed and developed specifically for public use. This meant that they did not have to have Federal Regulation requirements met during their engineering process. The military would pay to have aircraft developed, tested, and purchased outside of the civil aviation realm. Well, those days are gone. Manufactures are no longer handedmoney and told to start a new project. Now manufactures develop andengineer aircraft on their own dime. This means that they satisfy two markets simultaneously, they design the aircraft to civil and military requirements at the same time. They certify the aircraft for civil use, and then produce a military model based on that civil design. Therefore, civil certification for maintenance is becoming more of a requirement. The military may want to sell that aircraft in the future and they want it to have civil value and maintenance records to back up that value. Thus, the requirement for certified maintenance technicians. Obtaining your A&P should be of value to you. It should be a goal that you want to reach. No, it will not guarantee you a job. It will however hold open doors that would otherwise be closed to you. There may be a day when you have the experience and the knowledge, and a friend calls you to offer you a new exciting career. That is not the time you should be wishing you had your A&P.

What does it bring me?

Obtaining your A&P is the foundation of other certifications that may now be available to you. There are more to be obtained in the aviation maintenance industry. Once you have met the requirements Inspection Authorization (IA) can now be an option. After that Designated Airworthiness Representative (DAR) might be a goal. If you are more daring Designated Maintenance Examiner (DME) may be in your sights. These are things that many don’t think about or even set as a goal. Even from the income value stand point the A&P can be the beginning of your entrepreneur adventure. Once again reiterating the point that more doors will be open and available to you. There may byopportunities that you may miss or not be qualified for.

Does it satisfy your personal goals?

There are many factors that will come into play about whether youget your A&P. I have put together 3 more articles to assist in laying out the path to complete that goal. The most important question to ask yourself is, what is your overall goal for your maintenance career? If your goal is to have the most opportunities within aviation maintenance, then the next article will show you the requirements andassist you on your path of getting the right information.

What is an “I Love Me” book? and why do I need one?

Many times, during my career I had to produce documents from my past.  Whether to complete training packets for an employer, or to fill out family information for a benefit package.  There has always been one tool that I possess to maintain and organize all my career information.  I call this book my “I Love Me” book. Continue reading “What is an “I Love Me” book? and why do I need one?”

Help! I’m transitioning out the the military and missed the window of enrollment for the JSAMCC

Are you on the verge of transitioning out of the military and missed the window of enrollment for the Joint Services Aviation Maintenance Certification Council(JSAMCC)? Good news, you still have an opportunity to get you’re A&P Certificates using your military experience. The Advisory Circular(AC) 8900.1 Section II includes all the information, but it may be confusing. Below are the 4 clarifying questions you may have. Continue reading “Help! I’m transitioning out the the military and missed the window of enrollment for the JSAMCC”

I’m transitioning out of the military and missed the window for the Joint Services Aviation Maintenance Certification, Now What?

Are you on the verge of transitioning out of the military and missed the window of enrollment for the Joint Services Aviation Maintenance Certification Council(JSAMCC)?

Good news, you still have an opportunity to get your A&P Certificates using your military experience. The Advisory Circular(AC) 8900.1 Section II includes all the information, but it may be confusing. Below are the 4 questions you may have and the clarifying answers. Continue reading “I’m transitioning out of the military and missed the window for the Joint Services Aviation Maintenance Certification, Now What?”