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.