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.
Question 1: Are you in a qualifying military occupation?
Figure 5-135 of the AC displays the Military Occupational Specialty Codes by 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 will 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. In addition, this may be the same information that you may be asked during a civilian job interview so you might as well get comfortable with your knowledge.
Question 2: Do you have the correct personal documentation?
First you need a picture identification. This would include a U.S. Driver’s License, Passport, or Military ID. Personally, I 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 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 may and will normally 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 your received your experience in. Yes, the FAA would like to know 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. The final piece of the puzzle is the information contained in your “I love me” book. If you don’t have one refer to this article. 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) then the time to act on it is now. It will pay dividends in the civilian job search market as well. 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. It’s not that easy. There is the studying and knowledge part that needs to be completed. If you jump on the grenade and get your FAA Form 8610-2 endorsed by the FAA you now put time limitations on yourself. Once you have your FAA Form 8610-2 endorsed by the FAA, 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 months for completion with fulltime 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 rule to remember, the FAA 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 obtain FAA approval.
Question 4: I have studied and I feel I am ready to test. Now what? Congrats on putting forth the time and effort to complete your goal. Here is the checklist for your next action:
- Contact your local Flight Standard District Office (FSDO) of the FAA. You will need to make an appointment with a ASI or AST. FSDO’s are appointment only. You cannot just walk in.
- 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!
- Complete the Pilots Bill of Rights and bring to the FSDO with you.
- Ensure you have your valid and positive form of Picture Identification.
- DD-214 and Letter of Experience and Knowledge from your Chain of Command.
- All Training Documents. (Professional Portfolio Book, AKA “I Love Me Book”).
- Dress professional and treat it like a job interview. The FSDO 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.