Aircraft Mechanics and Asbestos Exposure
Aircraft mechanics are specialized workers with significant training, expertise, and experience in the aviation industry. Most aviation mechanics are trade-designated as aircraft maintenance technicians.
These professionals are responsible for a broad spectrum of aircraft servicing duties from maintaining aero engines to rebuilding airframes.
Nearly all aircraft mechanics were put at risk of asbestos exposure for decades.
The aircraft industry began using asbestos in the 1920s. By the 1940s, when World War II was in full swing, asbestos was present in every conceivable type of aircraft.
The use of asbestos in aircraft manufacturing continued until the 1980s when the dangers of asbestos became known by aircraft maintenance workers and the general public.
How Aircraft Mechanics Were Exposed to Asbestos
Aircraft brake linings, pads, and shoes were the largest sources of airborne asbestos dust for aviation workers. Fine friction particles stored in aircraft brake housings were released in clouds every time a mechanic opened the enclosures.
Every type of aircraft contained asbestos, including:
- Civilian cargo and commercial passenger jetliners
- Helicopters and rotary-wing aircraft
- Military troop and equipment transporters
- Military fighter jets and interceptors
- Military light, medium, and heavy bombers
- Military reconnaissance and surveillance planes
- Missiles and guidance systems
- Private planes and corporate commuters
- Spacecraft and interstellar probes
Aircraft maintenance technicians and mechanics faced an even higher risk of asbestos exposure since Navy ships used asbestos heavily. Many Air Force planes were also loaded with asbestos for insulation and fire protection.