Whenever an aircraft suffers physical damage it is the Aircraft Structural Maintenance (7A7X3) professionals job to repair its structural integrity.
These individuals will use varying methods to install replacement parts or make one from scratch.
It is imperative that a damaged aircraft gets back into the air quickly and at full capacity to ensure the safety of the airmen in them.
Education, Qualifications and Training
This position is entry level and has very few qualifications to join.
Joining in an entry level position with zero experience and zero continued education means that you will rank lower, but there are always opportunities to improve your rank.
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The minimum education required for this position is a High School Diploma or GED.
You must take and meet the Mechanical ASVAB requirements.
The minimum qualifications for this position include:
- Knowledge of aircraft construction features
- Must be between 17 and 39
Recruits will attend Basic Military Training for 8.5 weeks.
After Basic Military Training they will attend Technical Training at Pensacola NAS in Florida for 76 days.
Right away you will begin earning college credits towards Aircraft Structural Maintenance Technology.
What are the Job Tasks of an Aircraft Structural Maintenance Specialist?
The work that these specialist complete has a direct relation to the safety of the airmen on the flight.
They are tasked with repairing the structural integrity of an aircraft after it has already received the damage.
Before Performing the Repairs
Aircraft Structural Maintenance specialist will assess any damage to aircraft structural components or to the low observable coating.
When making assessments of the damage, individuals will consider original strength, weight, balance and contour of the aircraft.
After making the assessments, they will advise on any structural repair, low observable repair, modifications, or corrosion protection treatments that may need to be completed.
They will check any repairs that need to be completed for serviceability based on specifications and technical publications.
Specialist will design, repair, modify and fabricate aircraft parts.
These parts could include: metal, plastic, composite, low observable, bonded structural parts, advanced composite and any components.
With the goal of preserving structural integrity, specialist will assemble structural parts and components.
Individuals will use powered and non-powered tools and equipment to perform tasks.
Prior to beginning any work, they will complete all lock out and tag out procedures that are required in safety procedures and standards.
They will assemble repairs using special fasteners and adhesives.
At times they may have to manufacture a part including jigs, forms, fixtures or molds.
Using metalworking equipment, specialist will form, bend, cut and fasten replacement parts on any damaged structure and its components.
Any damaged aerospace weapons (including support equipment) will need to be fixed by repairing, fabricating and/or assembling tubing and cable assemblies.
Aircraft Structural Maintenance personnel will paint an aircraft, a missile or any supporting equipment.
When painting they will ensure they follow all aircraft paint schemes and special markings required.
Any corrosion that is identified will be removed and the area will be treated with mechanical and chemical procedures.
They will apply any preservative treatments to the parts that they fix including all aircraft, missile or support equipment.
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After the Repair
Specialist are in charge of preserving maintenance and inspection records.
Individuals will input, validate and analyze data into automated systems.
They will clear and close out any completed work or discrepancies in the automated systems.
After the aircraft has been repaired, Air Force Structural Maintenance specialist will inspect the damaged aircraft structure and components to determine the operational status.
Individuals will ensure all repairs are pressure tight, fluid tight and weather tight.
They will interpret any inspection findings and determine if any further corrective action is needed.
Aircraft Structural Maintenance individuals perform operator maintenance and service inspections on tools and shop equipment.
Specialist recommend methods to improve equipment performance as well as maintenance procedures.
They will form any maintenance plans and policies to meet all unit tasking.
Any hazardous waste or materials that is produced/collected will be stored, handled and disposed of by the specialist according to environmental regulations.
What is the Pay for Aircraft Structural Maintenance?
In the Air Force your pay is based on your rank and your time of service.
All individuals with the same rank and time of service will receive the same base pay.
If you are entering into this position with no experience and no education than your rank and subsequently, your pay, will be lower.
You can find the pay table for the Air Force below.
|Insignia||Pay Grade||Rank||Abbreviation||2019 Pay (Monthly)|
|E-3||Airman First Class||A1C||$2,005|
|E-8||Senior Master Sergeant||SMSgt||$5,017|
|E-9||Chief Master Sergeant||CMSgt||$6,448|
|E-9||Command Chief Master Sergeant||CCM||$6,448|
|E-9||Chief Master Sergeant Of The Air Force||CMSAF||$6,448|
One of the advantages to joining the Air Force are the benefits that are offered.
You can get assistance with housing, education, and food plus have access to retirement, insurance and vacation plans.
Air Force benefit summary:
- Insurance: Medical and Dental; paid sick time; low cost life insurance
- Allowances: Housing and Food
- Retirement: After 20 years in the service
- Vacation: 30 days
- Education: Multiple scholarship options for certain fields and general tuition assistance programs
- Recreation: On-base activities, social events and youth groups
The Air Force offers excellent health plans and has generous other benefits for all members of the family.
You can find more details about the Air Force benefits here.
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People who join the Air Force gain valuable experience and note that the benefits are better than any civilian job they have had.
People in this specific position like their job because no two days are filled with the same exact task.
Negative comments about this position include long deployments and the hours making it hard to spend time with family.
Overall, most airmen recommend the position.
You can find a position review from an Aircraft Structural Maintenance member below.
Civilian Career Opportunities
Civilian careers related to Aircraft Structural Maintenance are available if you are willing to go to them.
Not all areas will have aviation services that have open positions.
The skills learned can compare to other fields such as automobiles or manufacturing, but most skills relate to aviation and generally speaking the pay can be higher in aviation.
Positions that relate to Aircraft Structural Maintenance include:
- Aircraft Maintenance Technician
- Structural Aircraft Mechanic
- Facilities Maintenance Technician
- Structural Design and Stress Engineers
- Structural Modification
You can work for private businesses or large ones such as Boeing.
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When an Aircraft receives damage it is up to the Aircraft Structural Maintenance specialist to assess and repair the damage.
These individuals will use various tools and equipment to design and replace aircraft structural components.
To enter into this position you must meet the education, qualification and training requirements.
You will receive the Air Force base pay and generous benefit package.
Individuals who have held this position like the work that they perform, but do not like the hours.
There are civilian career opportunities in aviation and other related fields.