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Aviation Maintenance Technician: Mastering Sheet Metal Fabrication

View of welder

Do you like working with your hands, taking things apart, and making repairs to equipment? Would you be interested in attending college if there was a program that applied all of those activities to one career field? MIAT’s Aviation Maintenance programs focus on teaching students the advanced precision skills necessary to become an FAA Certified Aviation Maintenance Technician.

Sheet metal fabrication is one of more than 40 precision technical skills MIAT graduates master during their training. In 2016, there were 132,000 Aviation Maintenance Technicians in the US, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Sheet metal fabrication is a highly sought-after skill in the aviation maintenance field.

What Do Sheet Metal Fabricators Do?

Sheet metal fabricators use hand-held or remotely controlled equipment to shape, join, or cut metal parts. They also fill holes, indentations, or seams in metal products. Sheet Metal fabricators do the following on a day-to-day basis:

  • Study blueprints, sketches, or airplane specifications
  • Shape, cut, rivet, bolt, screw, solder and braze
  • Maintain fabrication equipment and machinery

Sheet Metal Fabrication

In metal shaping, sheet metal can be bent, cut, shrunk, stretched and fused.

Bending Sheet Metal – the simplest way to bend metal is with form bending. The sheet metal is bent over an edge or shape that is located under the metal. The metal brake is the most common way to make clean, precise bends in metal.

Cutting Sheet Metal – to cut sheet metal, fabricators use aviation snips, power shears, throatless shears, angle grinders, or plasma cutters.

  • Aviation snips are a manual way to cut metal
  • Power shears allow the aviation mechanic to cut sheet metal quickly and with less manual effort
  • Throatless shears help cut in straight lines or shapes in sheet metal with no marring of the cut edge
  • Angle grinders use a thin cutting disc to cut through multiple layers of sheet metal
  • Plasma cutters can cut sheet metal quickly with extreme accuracy

Shrinking Sheet Metal – a shrinker is a lever-operated tool that grasps sheet metal from the top and bottom to force it together tightly. Heat shrinking can be done with a torch and wet rag or compressed air.

Stretching Sheet Metal – the most basic way to stretch metal is with a hammer and dolly. A stretcher can be used by putting the metal between two flat-textured jaws, pulling the metal apart slowly each time the lever is pressed. An English wheel can also be used to stretch sheet metal.

Job Outlook for Aviation Maintenance Technicians

According to Boeing’s Current Market Outlook for 2016-2035, Boeing projects that the airline industry will have a need for 679,000 Aviation Maintenance Technicians over the next 20 years. Many current Aviation Maintenance Technicians will be retiring soon, creating a demand for those with the education and skills needed to replace them.

Additionally, Flying magazine stated that in 2015, “About 50,000 mechanics in the United States [were] employed by scheduled airlines and about 37,000 [worked] in general aviation, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The U.S. government also hires mechanics to maintain military aircraft domestically and overseas. Globally, airlines [employed] some 473,000 aircraft mechanics according to the Aeronautical Repair Station Association.”

Considering that there is a global need for Aviation Maintenance Technicians, the basic skills of riveting, composite structures, and digital avionics will likely be extremely valuable. Learning these skills now could provide an individual with the ability to start a rewarding career with multiple opportunities for growth.

Does sheet metal fabrication interest you? Want to learn about the professional skills needed to work in a rewarding career in the aviation industry? The Aviation Programs from MIAT College of Technology provides the hands-on training, practical experience and career support it takes to pursue a rewarding technical career.

To learn more about Aviation Programs and to explore if MIAT is right for you, fill out the form on this page. Contact us if you are interested in training to become an aviation maintenance technician today.

For important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of the students who attended this program visit the following disclosure links:

Associate of Applied Science in Aviation Maintenance Technology Gainful Employment Disclosure – Canton

Associate of Applied Science in Aviation Maintenance Technology Gainful Employment Disclosure – Houston

Airframe and Powerplant Technician Program Gainful Employment Disclosure – Canton

Airframe and Powerplant Technician Program Gainful Employment Disclosure – Houston