Taking a Flight into Commercial Aviation with Brett Ebert

We took the liberty of sitting down with Brett Ebert, an Aircraft Maintenance Technician for American Airlines who has been in the industry for over 30 years. His dad – also an Aircraft Maintenance Technician – was a key factor in his decision to become an AMT. Ebert grew up in Washington, DC, by way of Baltimore, MD. He moved to Charlotte in 2007 after US Airways went through layoffs.

After high school, Ebert had no plans of continuing school, but he quickly found that if he wanted to get further in life, then he needed to be educated and skilled in an area that had good earning potential. Ebert, his dad, and brother are all graduates of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona, FL. This is where he really learned the ins and outs of Aviation Mechanics.

Growing up Ebert states he “always had a passion for taking things apart and putting them back together again.” He said that at the young age of ten his dad got him a mini bike. He quickly learned how to start, stop, repair, and remember certain mechanics of motored machines.

When asked how has being an Aircraft Maintenance Mechanic changed over the years from when he first started to now, Ebert states, “when I first got into the industry you often times than not learned certain skills from the older mechanics. They would take you under their wing and show you the ins and outs, but over the years it transitioned to being completely by the book.”

This makes the industry more safer, less prone to human error, and standardized.

Ebert began working on DC10 and 727 as a newly trained mechanic but said that being an AMT requires that you work on all types of aircraft: DC9, Bach 111, 737s, 727s, 319s, 320s, 321s, 330s. Each aircraft requires a minimum of 2 weeks for initial maintenance schooling.

When asked how a typical work day goes for an American Airlines AMT, Ebert mentioned two types of maintenance workflows that can happen on any given day. He states, there is Line Maintenance and Heavy Maintenance. Line Maintenance is when you have a certain time window to get aircraft serviced and back to working conditions between flights. Heavy Maintenance is when you completely disassemble an aircraft and rebuild it so that it is back to its full working capacity. Aircraft are tracked by hours and cycles (takeoff to landing). During that timeframe the aircraft goes through heating, cooling, pressure, push, and pull, which ultimately can cause wear and tear on the metal of the aircraft. This phenomenon is known as Metal Fatigue. Aircraft must have some sort of overhauling. Overhauling is having redundant systems in place in case one system fails or becomes inoperative. Longer flights have more redundancies in place such as 2-3 auto pilots opposed to one, domestic flights not so much.

There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes every day that passengers don’t think about. Things like fueling the aircraft, stocking the catering trays, cleaning the planes, changing the lavatory essentials, assembling the air crew, etc. Positions like AMTs, Ramp Agents, Flight Attendants, among others, must work together to make sure your flight leaves at its scheduled time of departure.

As an AMT Ebert states, “you have to love what you do.” Aviation Maintenance is not for everybody says Ebert. “If I don’t do my job right, you’re probably going to read about it or see it on the news.”

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