The 4th of a 4 Part Series to A&P Transition
The fourth step to obtaining your FAA A&P Certificate after military service.
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. 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:
- Write down your goals of what you want.
- Do not allow procrastination to get in the way.
- Find a mentor, someone that will assist and push you when needed.
- Dedicate the time to study. YOU are the one that controls this.
- Don’t lose focus of your goal. Keep pushing yourself.
- Expand your reach to more goals, IA, DAR, DME.
- Never stop learning and gaining new experience.