Automotive tech with some questions

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RLK
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Automotive tech with some questions

#1 Post by RLK » Mon Feb 26, 2018 12:49 pm

I am a red seal automotive technician, I have been fixing vehicles for 15 years. I'm looking at going back to school and becoming a ame. I have done a bunch of research but still have some questions. Fixing motor vehicles is my passion, but there are a few things that are starting to wear on me and I'm left wanting more out of my career.

How do replacement parts work in aviation? is it a bunch of aftermarket garbage that rolls out of China? or is a quality stuff built by the OE manufacture? or does it depend on what type of operation that you work for?

How is the overall skill level of ame's? Are the majority skilled and good at what they do? or there is there a lot of morons/hacks and only a few really skilled ones?

How is the pay structured? Hourly? salary? commission? In automotives there is a lot of very creative pay plans that generally do not work out in the technicians favor, and really have caused most of the problems that the industry has.

How does the night shifts work? are they something that is just part of the job or does it depend on how and what you work for?

Layoffs and moving for work. I have read a lot about how layoffs are kinda a normal thing, is it when the economy hits the shitter and they get rid of dead weight or is everyone's job at risk? I live in Calgary, how is the job situation? is moving around following the work normal? is bigger city's better than smaller ones for work?

If you had to do it all over again, would you still be a ame?
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Dongo
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Re: Automotive tech with some questions

#2 Post by Dongo » Tue Feb 27, 2018 11:25 am

Depends if you are rotary or fixed wing. Fixed wing I don't know a lot about, but I think its mostly paid by the hr, and there's probably some night shift involved depending if you work for an airline or smaller company. Rotary you can work at an overhaul facility like eagle in calgary, and it's likely hourly as well, and you are home every night, no night shift there I doubt. That being said, most rotary jobs are field Maintenance so you look after a helicopter away from civilization, you are paid a day rate plus a high hourly rate for every hr the helicopter flys, but you will work a longer day than 8 hrs, sometimes well into the night, in the cold, and you are likely a one man show, your skill level/ parts availability/ flyable weather dictate how much you make that tour.

Replacement parts are usually new from the manufacturer or overhauled by a reputable company that specializes in component overhaul, usually pretty good, but I'm sure there are some that are not, depends where and what you work on I suppose.

There are some very smart individuals, and there are some hacks, I'm sure this goes for any trade you work in.

There are layoffs for sure, especially smaller rotary wing operators, summer is the busy season for most with wildfires, larger companies seem to have more winter work available, be it heliskiing or heli logging. Can't really speak for the fixed wing side of things.

It's a long time to go back to school, but I suppose you can get EI. Most other trades are 6 weeks a year allowing you to make money the rest of the year, this will be about a year and a half full time.
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Pat Richard
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Re: Automotive tech with some questions

#3 Post by Pat Richard » Tue Feb 27, 2018 1:15 pm

I am a red seal automotive technician, I have been fixing vehicles for 15 years. I'm looking at going back to school and becoming a ame. I have done a bunch of research but still have some questions. Fixing motor vehicles is my passion, but there are a few things that are starting to wear on me and I'm left wanting more out of my career.

How do replacement parts work in aviation? is it a bunch of aftermarket garbage that rolls out of China? or is a quality stuff built by the OE manufacture? or does it depend on what type of operation that you work for? Our China is Florida.

How is the overall skill level of ame's? Are the majority skilled and good at what they do? or there is there a lot of morons/hacks and only a few really skilled ones? In fixed wing,
there are a lot of dipshits and it worsening. Schools will pound out anybody now and it shows.


How is the pay structured? Hourly? salary? commission? In automotives there is a lot of very creative pay plans that generally do not work out in the technicians favor, and really have caused most of the problems that the industry has. Usually hourly, sometimes they try salary in situation where they want 24hr availability.

How does the night shifts work? are they something that is just part of the job or does it depend on how and what you work for? It is the predominant shift whether in the fling wing or fixed wing field, Almost all the ads posted here and all the contract offers I get are all graveyard. Also, a "normal" shift is 12 hrs in aviation, with all recent contract offers I've gotten being for 3-4 weeks straight and nights. Wonder why nobody is biting. Google "night shift health effects" for interesting reading.

Layoffs and moving for work. I have read a lot about how layoffs are kinda a normal thing, is it when the economy hits the shitter and they get rid of dead weight or is everyone's job at risk? I live in Calgary, how is the job situation? is moving around following the work normal? is bigger city's better than smaller ones for work? Trouble is most won't move to work in this industry who have done it for awhile and are experienced. Main two reasons being it doesnt pay enough to afford big city living costs and lack of faith the job will last for a good amount of time.

If you had to do it all over again, would you still be a ame? phuk no
Did you read through the 2 stickied threads in this forum?

Have you considered opening your own automotive shop? I know several who have done it and all are busy.
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Re: Automotive tech with some questions

#4 Post by Piston Power » Fri Mar 02, 2018 12:34 pm

How do replacement parts work in aviation? is it a bunch of aftermarket garbage that rolls out of China? or is a quality stuff built by the OE manufacture? or does it depend on what type of operation that you work for?
Any replacement part in aviation requires certification and shall be the same as required by the aircraft manufacturer. There are aftermarket parts but they too must be FAA/PMA approved, meaning they meet the OEM standard. Having said that, in the private world, Im sure there are owners who will stick just about anything to their aircraft.

How is the overall skill level of ame's? Are the majority skilled and good at what they do? or there is there a lot of morons/hacks and only a few really skilled ones?
In my experience the overall skill of most AMEs is very good. Unfortunately, just like any other occupation there are morons and complete hacks out there as well as those with difficult attitudes. Ive worked mostly with smaller companies that dont have a high turnover rate of staff so Im not sure of the quality of the new/younger AMEs.

How is the pay structured? Hourly? salary? commission? In automotives there is a lot of very creative pay plans that generally do not work out in the technicians favor, and really have caused most of the problems that the industry has.
Pay can vary depending on the employer. Generally from what Ive seen, most are an hourly rate. Depending on work location some companies will offer per diams, additional base pay, or other incentives for working in difficult locations or away from the main operating base. Shifts generally run any where from 8 to 12 hours with potential overtime in many companies.

How does the night shifts work? are they something that is just part of the job or does it depend on how and what you work for?
Because companies try to maximize availability and minimize aircraft down time, night shifts are very common. One I see regularly is 7PM to 7AM. Ofcourse this can be different for any company. I am fortunate and work 730 AM to 330PM Monday thru Friday but that is definitely not the norm for this industry.

Layoffs and moving for work. I have read a lot about how layoffs are kinda a normal thing, is it when the economy hits the shitter and they get rid of dead weight or is everyone's job at risk? I live in Calgary, how is the job situation? is moving around following the work normal? is bigger city's better than smaller ones for work?
Unfortunately, layoffs can and do happen. There can be many reasons but they generally relate to an unexpected loss in business or low operational time. The order in which who gets laid off can vary depending on the company. It may be who gets along best with the boss or if unionized its generally the lowest seniority. I can't comment on the condition of the industry in Calgary.

If you had to do it all over again, would you still be a ame?
This career path for me has had its ups and downs but in general has treated me well. I've been fortunate in having steady employment with a few different operators over the years. Its not a career where you'll get rich and retire early but its afforded me a good standard of living and a quality standard of life. Finally, in aircraft maintenance there are challenges, but its unlikely you'll have to deal with a muddy, rusted, covered in road salt seized piece of $hit. I've never needed to use a torch to take anything off an aircraft. :)

Hope some of that helps and best of luck with your path.
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Re: Automotive tech with some questions

#5 Post by PilotDAR » Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:26 am

You will find the the parts used and maintenance methods are much more specified. There is little opportunity for improvisation, you gotta do it the way the book says, and with the parts specified. Though there are variations permitted, even those are defined by approved data. When a maintainer has finished their work, the aircraft will conform to "approved data" (meaning manufacturer's manuals, approved aftermarket parts, and other specified documentation). This conforming condition will be both "what it is" and "how it works". At the highest level, every certified aircraft (meaning not an amateur built, or ex military) is defined by a "Type Certificate Data Sheet" which specifies the most important characteristics of the aircraft, and may define other documents which further say what the aircraft is to be (maintenance manuals, instructions for continued airworthiness, and parts catalogs). After that there are Supplemental type certificates (STC's) which describe how the aircraft might be modified.

Then there are things which are critical, which other maintenance does not care about. Examples are; weight and balance, control movement, and electrical loads. Then get used to doing immense amounts of paperwork. EVERYTHING is documented, and recorded for future audit. That audit may be random, or done by the Transportation board following a crash.

You will find that some owners and operators are very happy to spend wisely maintaining aircraft very well. Then there are other operators and some private owners in particular, are, well.... cheap. That will make your task more difficult, having to convince them to spend what the job fairly needs. It's wise to choose your employer/customers wisely!
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Re: Automotive tech with some questions

#6 Post by edmanster » Sat Mar 03, 2018 1:29 pm

An Aviation job is what u make it. I had an apprentice that just loved to change oil, tires & brakes every day & be ready to pick up his wife at 4PM. Others work all night & spend the afternoon fishing off the dock maintaining a bush plane. Some others salivate at the prospect of packing their toolbox to retrieve & fly home a broken machine. And then you have the people who drift from job to job never content. If you treat aviation as a job - that's all it will ever be. Ive been places, seen things & done stuff - not possible otherwise, all thanks to this career choice.
- A good mechanic will always be in demand, one who looks for reasons "not to fly" will have a harder time with employment. Safety is always respected; even the most disreputable operators realize a crashed aircraft will end up costing more. It is the job of the mechanic to point this out - sometimes by packing his tools & leaving - if required. A junior mechanic will be 'pushed' to do things he may not like, working evening shifts he may not like, or working for people he may not respect. Same everywhere. With experience, you get to call the shots, I see the future being bright. There is a tremendous shortage of 'can-do' experience out there. As soon as some mechanic 'gets good' - the company castrates themselves by placing him in management. If you join a union shop, 'being good' is a slow climb, your success rate will be measured in decades; until the seniors retire and vacate their positions. A mid-scale shop with no union or a mild union is my recommendation. Just walk around their aircraft; if the planes are only patched up - your future may be bright with work - but contentious with parts, salary, and 'peace of mind' since most days will be driven with panic emergencies.
- I did Tech school in '86 & university in '00. Today I'm a consultant- and living the dream. Never fear and education or new experiences - no-one will take that away!
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