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Jobs at Federal Airways Administration

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Electronic technicians install and maintain the complicated electronic equipment required for aerial navigation, communications between the aircraft and ground services, and control of aircraft movements. This involves working with radar, radio, computers, wire communication systems, and other electronic devices at airports and all along the network of federal airways. Technicians inspect equipment, read meters, replace deteriorating parts, adjust mechanisms not working properly, trouble-shoot, and repair and replace malfunctioning equipment. These technicians may also specialize in the design, development, and evaluation of new types of electronic equipment for the federal airways.

Most of the technicians are based at, and work out of, an Airway Facilities Sector Field Office with other technicians whose work is directed by a supervisor. The office may be located at an airport, but the equipment for which the office is responsible may lie within a thirty- or forty-mile radius and be located in control towers, air route traffic control centers, flight service stations, or out in open fields or even on remote mountain tops. This means that some work must be done outdoors in all kinds of weather. Although forty hours is a normal workweek, shift work and weekend work are required. Thousands of electronic technicians are employed, and there is opportunity to progress to supervisory positions and ultimately to managerial jobs at FAA headquarters.

Minimum entry age for this job is eighteen years of age. Training and experience in electronics are required with a knowledge of basic electronic theory and related mathematics, transmitters and receivers, use of test equipment, techniques of troubleshooting and circuitry analysis, use of tools, and installation practices.

Minimum experience of three years is required, but as with the specialists in controller jobs, some evaluation of education and specialized experience may be made. Applicants must also be able to pass a physical examination and be free from color blindness.

Technical and vocational schools offer courses in electronics, and upon assignment to an FAA sector office, a new employee undergoes a short period of on-the-job training in which he or she is familiarized with FAA equipment and procedures. Technicians may receive three to four months instruction in any one year on new developments in the field of electronics at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City.

Airspace system inspection technicians must meet the same employment requirements as electronic technicians, but they are required to fly in government aircraft as a member of a crew with airspace system inspection pilots during in-flight inspection of navigational aids.


Aviation safety inspectors develop, administer, and enforce regulations and standards concerning civil aviation safety including the airworthiness of aircraft and aircraft systems; the competence of pilots, mechanics, and others; and the safety aspects of aviation facilities, equipment, and procedures. For these positions you need knowledge and skill in the operation, maintenance, or manufacture of aircraft and aircraft systems. Again a minimum of three years' experience is required, although certain education may be substituted. Inspectors operate out of offices located throughout the country.

Safety inspectors examine air personnel for their initial certification and continuing competence; evaluate training programs, equipment, and facilities; and evaluate the operations programs of air carriers and other commercial aviation companies.

Other safety inspectors evaluate mechanics and repair facilities for their initial certification and continuing adequacy, evaluate training pro-grams for mechanics, inspect airplanes and related systems for airworthiness, and evaluate the maintenance programs of air carriers and other commercial aviation companies.

Still other safety inspectors inspect prototype or modified aircraft and the production operations of manufacturers. They also issue certificates for all civil aircraft.

Airspace system inspection pilots conduct in-flight inspections of ground-based air navigational facilities to determine if they are operating correctly.

Test pilots check the airworthiness of aircraft by inspecting, flight testing, and evaluating flight performance, engine operation, and the flight characteristics of either prototype airplanes or aircraft that have been modified.

Maintenance mechanics maintain aids to air navigation such as approach light systems serving airport runways, and they also work on the structural, electrical, and mechanical devices that are major parts of other facilities. This may include maintenance and repair of heating, air-conditioning, and ventilating systems; electrical generating and power distribution systems; and the buildings and antenna structures that house a wide variety of FAA facilities. These jobs can involve carpentry, painting, plumbing, electrical, and masonry construction and require specialized skills in these areas. Employment may be found in all areas of the country and anywhere that FAA air navigational aids and air traffic control towers or centers are located.

Engineers of all specialties are employed to work on the research and development of all types of new aircraft and of new equipment and devices to increase aviation safety. Some engineers provide guidance in airport design, construction, operation, and maintenance. The following engineering specialists are employed: aerospace, electrical, electronic, mechanical, and civil.

Engineering technicians are also employed to assist engineers by drafting engineering plans, conducting efficiency and performance tests, making calculations, setting up laboratory equipment and instruments, and preparing technical reports, specifications, and estimates.

Physicians are required inasmuch as aviation medicine is a most important field. These physicians study such problems as the effects of flying on the human body, the need for oxygen above certain altitudes, effects of fatigue on pilot performance, vision and hearing, the tension and stress factors associated with the air traffic controller's job, and the standards of the various classes of medical examinations required for pilots and other flight crew members.

The FAA also hires lawyers to write and interpret Federal Aviation Regulations and to represent the FAA in legal controversies. Office staffs include accountants, public information officers, librarians, photographers, and supporting personnel such as receptionists, secretaries, typists, office machine operators, mail room clerks, and data computer programmers and operators.

In addition to all of the jobs just listed, the FAA operates two federal airports in the Washington, DC area (Washington National and Dulles International), where it employs runway, building, and ground maintenance personnel as well as an airport administrative staff.

It should be noted that the Federal Aviation Administration is subject to the same budget and personnel cutbacks as other government agencies. Although some safety experts may claim that the FAA should hire more air traffic controllers and other specialists to handle the ever-increasing volume of traffic, it is questionable how much additional money, if any, Congress will appropriate for this purpose in the future. Nevertheless, there will continue to be job opportunities as employees resign, retire, or receive promotions to other positions.
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