Let Your Service Time Serve You
By Rebekah Waters, FAA Safety Briefing Magazine
Last issue, I wrote about two paths to becoming a GA mechanic — attending an aircraft maintenance technical school (AMTS) or working as a mechanic helper to receive on-the-job training (OJT) for civil aircraft experience. Well, there is one other way you may gain OJT: through military service. If you served your country and gained experience with military aviation maintenance, the FAA may grant you credit for experience toward the airframe and/or powerplant ratings.
The Department of Defense (DOD) collaborated with the FAA to establish the Joint Service Aviation Maintenance Technician Certification Council (JSAMTCC). (I guess the more government agencies involved, the longer the acronyms get!) The JSAMTCC delivers civil aviation training courses to military personnel through a partnership with the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF). The JSAMTCC also evaluates aviation-related specialties for all U.S. military branches of service (BOS). If you have been issued a JSAMTCC certificate of eligibility (COE) from the military, this meets the FAA’s experience requirements of 14 CFR section 65.77 and you do not need to obtain additional FAA approval to begin testing for a mechanic certificate (i.e., an FAA signature in Section V of FAA Form 8610–2 is not required).
Other OJT credit that the FAA might grant will depend on your military specialty. To figure out which military specialty will be granted credit, you will need your BOS and Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC), or Naval Enlistment Code (NEC). Go to drs.faa.gov and check FAA Order 8900.1, Volume 5, Chapter 5, Section 2, Figure 5–135 for a full list of these specialties. Your BOS will document and file your training experience record for you.
If you are an active-duty military member, you can apply for an airframe and/or powerplant rating at your local FAA FSDO. An FAA aviation safety inspector (ASI) will interview you to evaluate your experience. Make sure to bring all documentation of your training and qualifications and a letter from your executive officer, maintenance officer, or classification officer certifying: your length of military service; the amount of time you worked in each MOS, NEC, or AFSC; the make and model of aircraft and/or engine on which you acquired the practical experience; and where you obtained the experience.
It’s important to note that you will not be allowed to test just because you served in the military. Also, you can only count the time you spent working in the specialty, not the time you spent training for it.
You will still need 30 months of practical experience to test for both airframe and powerplant certification, or 18 months to get one or the other. Keep in mind, this needs to be months of experience, not just months in the military. The more documentary experience you can provide, the better! Once you have received credit for your military experience and meet the OJT requirements, there are commercially available A&P refresher courses and prep courses that can help prepare you to pass the airman knowledge written, oral, and practical tests. If you served your country by repairing and maintaining military aircraft, get credit for it! For more information, go to bit.ly/3BFE7hF.
Rebekah Waters is an FAA Safety Briefing associate editor. She is a technical writer-editor in the FAA’s Flight Standards Service.