Mil CIV 2 Tips for the transitioning military helicopter pilot


His commanding officer asked Travis Coil, a 4-year air defense artillery Army veteran, what he needed to do to convince Travis to reenlist. Travis answered, “A $2 million reenlistment bonus and a two-week vacation in Hawaii.” Fourteen years of civilian life later, Travis is now an outstanding and highly qualified A&P mechanic who has worked in a variety of fields within the helicopter industry.

Many of us may relate to Travis’ sentiment about exiting the service ASAP, while others may be content spending a few more years active duty. However, if you are seriously considering the idea of transitioning into a civilian aviation maintenance career, here are some steps you will be required to take in order to make a successful transition and be issued your civilian airframe and powerplant (A&P) license.

The A&P license is what authorizes a mechanic to perform and sign- off all maintenance completed on FAA-registered aircraft. Without this license, you are severely limited in your capabilities. You will need at least 30 months of aircraft maintenance experience to be approved for both the airframe and the powerplant portions of this license. Here are a few methods you can use to get that experience.

Method One: Use your military aviation maintenance training and experience. Once you meet the experience requirements, it is time to contact your local FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) to set up an appointment with a primary maintenance inspector (PMI). If you

meet the requirements for both your airframe and powerplant license, then the PMI will issue you two copies of a signed FAA 8610 form. Do not lose these copies! You will need to produce both copies of this document in order to take your three written tests as well as your oral and practical exam with a designated maintenance examiner (DME). The DME will issue your A&P license after the successful completion of your exam.

Important: Bring printed copies of the maintenance actions you have performed and signed off to the meeting with the PMI; when you meet with the PMI he is going to request your military “rate” or “designation.” He will then open his big fancy book and look up that designation. The book will tell him, generally, what kind of maintenance you have likely done and whether you qualify for both portions of the airframe and powerplant license. If you know that you have powerplant experience, but the PMI’s fancy book does not indicate that your designation would expose you to this type of work, then you must personally show him proof of that experience. Otherwise, he may authorize you to receive only your airframe license.

Method Two: Enroll in a VA-approved airframe and powerplant vocational school. This is particularly useful if you do not have an aviation maintenance background. The VA will pay for this training under the Montgomery GI Bill, Post-9/11 GI Bill or vocational rehab for disabled veterans. These vocational schools will give you all the necessary training and experience needed to obtain your A&P license.

Method Three: Work as a helper in a maintenance shop under a qualified A&P mechanic. You will need to keep a record or maintenance logbook itemizing the kind of maintenance you performed. These tasks will then be signed by the qualified A&P mechanic. Once you have accumulated 30 months of experience, you follow the same process found above and contact a PMI at your local FSDO in order to obtain your signed 8610 forms.

Next, come to the Military to Civilian Transition course at Heli Expo! Meet folks just like you who have been in your shoes and have made a successful shift to the civilian sector. This is a fantastic opportunity to have your many questions answered, get help with creating a successful resume, and gain insight to the amazing aviation world outside the military.

About the author: Heidi McBride is an 8-year veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard. She served as an avionics technician and crew chief on the MH-60 Jayhawk. She transitioned to the civilian sector in 2009, began flight school in 2011, and obtained her A&P license in 2017. She is currently a VFR captain in the AW119 serving the oil and gas industry and loving life!

18 July/Aug 2020

By Heidi McBride

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83