Professionalism in Maintenance — Become a Model Mechanic
By Tom Hoffmann, FAA Safety Briefing Managing Editor
What’s the first occupation that comes to mind when you think of a professional? A doctor? A lawyer? Maybe a schoolteacher? While these are all important and highly respected professions, they are, after all, just that — professions. To be a professional takes much more than just having a title, prestige, or an advanced degree. It’s the character and integrity of the person in that profession that defines a true professional. That’s true whether your position entails a high level of exposure and public interaction, or if instead it involves a behind-the-scenes supporting role.
In the aviation industry, those in one of the most important supporting role professions — the Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) — are largely unseen by the public. Passengers see and interact with pilots, cabin crew, and customer service agents, all important professions (and hopefully professionals) in their own right. Though some may be predisposed to associate “professional” only with specific and high-visibility occupations, the men and women responsible for the safe upkeep of aircraft are undoubtedly professionals as well.
Are You A Professional?
So what makes someone a professional? Is it someone who is extremely knowledgeable and can solve problems quickly? Or maybe it has more to do with having a respect for the responsibility of the position, as well as for your co-workers. Professionalism is admittedly a squishy and intangible concept, difficult to directly see and feel. But there are several tangible ways you can perform to be the best professional you can be, and a role model for others in the aviation maintenance community.
🏋️♂️ Stay Fit and Focused
Keep yourself fit for duty at all times. While fitness often refers to a physical condition, the real challenge is to ensure a mental fitness for duty. Proper sleep is an important way to ensure necessary mental awareness and attitude. Aim for about eight hours of sleep every night.
🎓 Get Smart
You worked hard to earn your aircraft mechanic certificate, but don’t stop there. Maintaining a thirst for learning and an eagerness for challenge is a sure sign of a true professional. Just reading this article demonstrates a commitment to professionalism. If glass cockpit technology is not your strong suit, consider attending a seminar or course that can expand your knowledge on the subject. And, of course, don’t forget the training available with the AMT Awards Program available on FAASafety.gov.
👩🏫 Pass It On
Knowledge is only good when you put it to use, and more importantly, share it, so try to pass on that wisdom when possible. The AMT profession is already one in which mentoring is an integral part of learning and becoming a good mechanic. Mechanics take pride in mentoring one another, and often find satisfaction in providing guidance for newer employees or co-workers who may be unfamiliar with a certain aircraft or procedure. The mentee demonstrates professionalism by accepting help from another worker. It is a two-way street.
🧰 Use the Right Tools
Aircraft mechanics have several tools and resources available to help them perform tasks more efficiently and accurately. A professional will approach any procedure with the same meticulous care a medical team displays when preparing surgical tools for an operation. Are you trained and proficient with the procedures and tools being used? Do you have the correct manuals and/or data for the procedure you are performing?
It’s true that the public may not always see or think of what an AMT does to preserve safety, but that is never an excuse to let down your guard or be any less proud of the significant effect you have on safety. A simple, but well-known anonymous quote on professionalism sums up the concept nicely: “It’s not the job you do, it’s how you do the job.”
Tom Hoffmann is the managing editor of FAA Safety Briefing. He is a commercial pilot and holds an A&P certificate.