03 Nov 2013

What Will I Learn in Avionics Maintenance School?

Today’s aircraft contain incredibly sophisticated electronic equipment. In addition to radar, you may find anti-collision systems, weather detection systems, sophisticated communications, GPS tracking systems, and more. The failure of any one of these systems could put pilots and passengers at risk. Trained avionics technicians are needed to install, maintain, and repair important electronic components.   If you’re technically-minded and like working with your hands, you might want to consider pursuing a career in avionics. Begin by training with a FAA-approved school that teaches avionics maintenance. This guide, presented by Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology, gives you an overview of the skills and concepts you can learn in an avionics maintenance school.   General Education The greatest technical talent isn’t worth much without an ability to communicate and reason. What you learn in general education courses can improve your ability to:  

  • Write, speak, and research
  • Evaluate information, reason, and analyze
  • Relate current events to history and social trends
  • Present yourself professionally

General education enhances your marketability. Make sure you choose a program which includes these courses within the curriculum.

Basics of Aviation  

Your main focus in an avionics maintenance program is the electronic equipment on board the aircraft. But it’s still important for you to have an understanding of how flight works. When you train as an aviation technician, you will take a course or two to develop an understanding of:  

  • The principles of flight, including aerodynamics
  • Aircraft construction principles
  • Federal aviation regulations
  • Aircraft schematics

  The information in these courses helps you appreciate how your area of interest fits within the context of the larger machine.   Charts, Reports, and Regulations   It’s critical for an avionics maintenance technician to be familiar with the technical documentation produced by the FAA and aircraft equipment manufacturers. An FAA-approved training program will teach you what you need to know to ensure you are:  

  • Aware of federal aviation regulations (FARs) pertaining to aircraft safety, maintenance standards, and maintenance procedures
  • Able to read FAA and aircraft manufacturers’ data sheets, manuals, and other publications
  • Able to understand scientific notation, applied scientific principles and applied mathematics relevant to maintenance duties
  • Able to read and draw schematic plans of circuits, avionics equipment, and parts

The emphasis of these concepts and skills carry across the entire curriculum of an avionics maintenance degree. By internalizing them, you can prepare yourself to carry out repair and maintenance duties to the required standards.

Electrical Theory   Since your work revolves around electrical components, you will need to take several courses that lay out how electricity and electrical equipment work. You should cover:  

Since your work revolves around electrical components, you will need to take several courses that lay out how electricity and electrical equipment work. You should cover:  

  • Basic principles of magnetism, magnetic induction, inductance and capacitance
  • Types of circuits, including parallel, series, amplifiers, wave-shaping circuits, etc.
  • Alternating-current and direct-current power
  • Principles of semi-conductors and digital circuits
  • Building and soldering circuits and test equipment
  • Testing and troubleshooting principles

You should learn to work out the voltage, current, and power of a circuit and perform laboratory experiments to construct circuits and operationally test existing equipment.  

Computer Processor Principles

A growing number of avionics components are powered by computer processors. A well-informed avionics technician needs to understand the principles that make this technology work, including:  

  • Logic gates
  • Logic circuits, including flip-flops, counters, and decoders
  • Applications of computer technology for avionics

 An avionics maintenance program should teach you how to test computer components and analyze their function.  

Communication Equipment

A major concern for avionics technicians (and pilots) is a correct function of radio communication equipment. In an avionics maintenance course, you’ll learn all about the components that make up communications systems, how they can go wrong, and how to test, troubleshoot, and repair them. You’ll investigate antennae, receivers, and transmitters, as well as microwave devices.  

Radar and Navigational Equipment

Another critical avionics system is the navigational system. This includes the aircraft’s weather radar and other related navigational equipment. Your avionics training will cover the principles behind radar systems, including component parts and proper function, and should offer you hands-on experience with installing and testing radar equipment.

  Maintenance Procedures

In addition to specific maintenance and repair skills, you should learn the generally accepted procedures for carrying out your duties. These include:  

  • Step-by-step operational checks for engines and other systems
  • Typical ground operations procedures for airports
  • Regular inspection procedures as required by the FAA

You should have the opportunity to carry out practice maintenance on real aircraft. This can include a complete avionics system installation and flight-line testing. After completing this course of study, you should be prepared to compete for entry-level roles with airports, aircraft equipment manufacturers, and more. Additionally, you’ll have many skills that can transfer to industries other than aviation—many types of manufacturing will have job opportunities you may be able to compete for.  

The Right Attitude  

Perhaps the most important thing that training in an avionics degree program should impress upon you is the fact that your work has serious, real-world consequences. Lives depend on what avionics professionals do. A quality training program will not only teach the skills and concepts you need to know to maintain and repair avionics equipment, but also critical lessons about paying attention to details, working hard, and being personally accountable for your work.   You should emerge from your avionics degree program prepared to work in a team, but also capable of managing yourself. You should be committed to doing an excellent job, whether that means on your repair work or the associated forms and paperwork that go with it. Honing an attitude of personal responsibility will make you even more attractive to employers.