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Possible job opportunities in GA maintenance?

Well, after a many many years of doing my full time job for airlines as mechanic/avionic, I would like to step out of shade of big corporate and start doing something on my own. Few years back I extended my license for piston aircrafts (B3, for now metal structure category), and sometimes I will do annual for some friend’s friends, also helping people around with their planes, even ultralights. I am not convinced yet, since I can do the job for people who own airplane in private use (for commercially used airplanes is required PART 145 organisation), and a lot of people has their mechanics, or organisations to maintain their planes, so they are barely willing to try someone new, but I was thinking about offering prebuy inspections, light maintenance and things like that, including ferrying planes. Prebuy inspection and ferry flight as one package. Anyway I know there are a lot of fishes in this pond, also not so many airplanes, that needs to be inspected and flown somwhere, it maybe is a way for me to escape from a daily routine of airline mechanic job, even if I did it part time.

What do you guys think about it? Will be market interested in services like that? Maybe I am thinking too loud, maybe I don’t know how big world of small airplanes works, but maybe I can catch the chance to do something interesting.

Last Edited by Jelen at 20 Mar 12:06
LKBU, Czech Republic

Hi Jelen,
I have a different impression about the market.
It is very hard to find a good maintenance technician / company, and it is almost impossible to find one which you can rely on in terms of schedule, etc. But people generally are very bad at managing and organizing.
If I’d have 3-4 technicians at hand I’d quit my job and start a maintenance company, and I’d be full of jobs in no time.

So go for it.

LHFM, LHTL, Hungary

Not sure that helps, but as a licensed A&P over here you’d be in a job an hour after stepping off the plane. From what I read on this forum it seems similar in Europe.

To add: especially if you can do avionics!!! There’s a total dearth of avionics guys here and every shop I know is desperate for someone.

Last Edited by 172driver at 20 Mar 14:44

@robirdus : well, that is great information.We will see if someone will want my services. :)

@172driver : I am specialized in avionics, but can do everything. Mainly on B737s :-D It is my dream to go to the USA, but it is nearly impossible, since my EASA license is not transferable to FAA A&P, so I would start from 0, and I am bit old for that. And I am afraid I just can’t leave everything here, friends, parents, my planes, etc…

LKBU, Czech Republic

since my EASA license is not transferable to FAA A&P, so I would start from 0,

There should be a credit for the work experience. Are you sure there is none?

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Yes, credit for experience is here. I asked FAA few years back and they told me I have to take all exams again, but under FAA. We are all western worlds, I don’t understand, why it is not transferable, like PPL, or so. Those airplanes are same here, or across the pond. Above that I have training to work on N number aircraft under my company now. Maybe once they will use common sense and unite western aviation to one world.

LKBU, Czech Republic

Bilateral acceptance of “A&P” qualifications will never happen, due to “competitive regulatory politics” and general regulatory elitism in the EU. And the EU policy of chucking 100 things into one negotiating bucket, which practically guarantees that X will never happen, due to impossible items in the bucket.

You should get credit for work experience in both directions, but have to sit the local exams. They should be OK. I haven’t seen the FAA ones but have seen the EASA ones. They were OK – probably a few weeks’ work, multiple choice, and a whole load of questions that were simply wrong (electrics and electronics I know about).

Some info posted here.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I agree with the others that available mechanics are hard to find, and good ones even harder. Having said that, my main complaint with the shops I’ve dealt with isn’t work quality but project management and communication. Like @robirdus said, I would start a shop as well if I could and focus on those two aspects. So my advice is to get some basic project management training and learn to effectively communicate with customers. I find really basic planning mistakes lead to long downtimes, and therefore more space needed for the shop to store planes because half of them are waiting unnecessarily. And I’m constantly pestering the shop for information and updates they should be proactively sharing.

EHRD, Netherlands

Could not agree more about project management.

However, like the old saying “you can judge a man by his friends”, things tend to go together. If somebody can barely read and write, they won’t be any good at project management either. You can find a really diligent “spanner monkey” but he will be “useful” only under fairly close supervision.

Then you get illiterate customers. I know we have discussed this many times. It amazes me how many people have a 200k-300k plane but can’t read and write well enough to even write a for-sale advert. When such an owner deals with a shop, there isn’t going to be an easy convergence of expectations on the level of service.

But this is a different topic from asking if there is work in GA in Europe. In Europe, nearly all EASA66 guys are full time employed, while most FAA A&P/IA guys are freelance. The latter are pretty busy on the N-reg scene, but they need to work “smart”, not least because freelancing carries a risk of stepping on the toes of some maintenance company which “owns the place” (literally, or metaphorically). Back to airfield politics, yet again

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I get into contact with a lot of maintenance companies. My impression is there is no shortage of work. But still they struggle:

  • Hangar facilities and everything associated with it seem to be expensive to buy/rent. Often extensions are not possible etc.
  • Everybody suffers from the diversity of the work. They nearly all work on about any plane in about any configuration. So each and every job is unique and it is close to impossible to get more efficient.
  • They struggle to get work hours in. There is a huge overhead with EASA audits, training, quality management etc. and the smaller the shop it the worse it gets in relation to the work done.
  • Communication with customers can be a pain. Customers complain about a lack of communication but many are also not so easy to deal with. All the delays and problems from each case beeing different do not help as they create more need for more communication which takes away from your work hours.
  • At least a certain percentage does not pay on time etc. which takes more effort to manage.
  • As aircraft owners we do not help as many of us want a shop which is close to our homebase. As a result we foster this everybody does everything culture and then complain if things are not perfect.

I once have been to a shop called Malibu Aerospace in the US. They only did PA46 work and had more than a dozen planes in a huge hangar at the same time. They tried to optimize maintance to an industrial level with custom checklists attached to each aircraft, centralized documentation etc. That was the first time I saw a shop which was fundamentally different from what I had seen before.

→ So I think simply opening yet another maintenance shop can feed your family but it is not easy and is not going to make you rich. I would probably try to look for a more specialized opportunity
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