What's in a Title?
Consider this — I am a part owner of D.O.M. and Helicopter Maintenance magazines. I also am in charge of the editorial content for both magazines. If you look at the masthead in the table of contents or my business card, it says my title is “Owner/Editorial Director.” It could just as easily be “Co-founder/Vice President of Editorial,” “Founding Partner/Executive Editor,” or just “Editor at Large.” Honesty, maybe I should change it to “Editor at Large” because of the extra COVID weight I have put on.
Now let’s take a look at aviation. What do we call the person who flies the aircraft? Simple — a pilot. What do we call the person who fixes the aircraft? This is not so simple.
I’ve had people tell me they like technician — it better represents the level of technical expertise we have. Some prefer mechanic. They feel that a technician is someone trained on a specific task — an X-ray technician, for example
So — what should we call ourselves?
Mechanic is in line with the FAA regulations. 14CFR Part 65 discusses certification of “mechanics.” Ratings issued under a mechanic certificate include airframe and/or powerplant. The term “A&P” has been used for a long time to mean an FAA-certified mechanic with airframe and powerplant ratings.
Some would argue AMT is more appropriate. In the late 1990s, the FAA proposed a new regulation – 14CFR Part 66. This was an attempt to revamp the long-standing mechanic certification regulations. New titles were introduced — aircraft maintenance technician (AMT), and aircraft maintenance technician, transport (AMT(T)). There were so many comments to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking when it came out that the FAA never published the final rule. Even though the FAA still certifies mechanics, not AMTs, some in the industry have adopted the term AMT as a title. (Ironically, 14CFR Part 147 is titled “Aviation Maintenance Technician Schools” even though there is no such thing at this time as an AMT certificate.)
There are even more splintered opinions. Some feel we should be called engineers like our counterparts in Canada (aircraft maintenance engineer (AME)) or Australia (licensed aircraft maintenance engineer (LAME).
A lot of the discussion and dissention about what we should call ourselves revolves around how others perceive us. The argument is that mechanics are perceived as “grease monkeys.” Changing our title will change how others perceive us. The character Lowell from the 1990s TV sitcom “Wings” is often brought up as an example of the negative stigma attached to “mechanic.”
In my opinion, the problem with the negative perception we suffer from isn’t from our titles. It’s because of how some of our peers present themselves. How can we expect to be treated as professionals when we spew obscenities any time a job frustrates us? We don’t wear blazers to work with fancy epaulets like pilots do, but that doesn’t mean we should dress like slobs.
If we want to be treated as professionals, we need to present ourselves as professionals. Only then will we get the respect we desire.
What are your thoughts on this subject? What title do you prefer? You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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