Pros: extremely informative and easy to use, the actual FAA guide
Cons: Extremely long at nearly 600 pages, with small print.
As I am currently awaiting my final results on my Airframe and Powerplant certification, I figured that I should take the time to review the books that helped me to get to the point where I could even take the test in the first place.
Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic's General Handbook is a book that was put out by the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration, to give aspiring mechanics a means for studying for certification. In order to work on any commercial aircraft, whether it be strictly cargo or a passenger aircraft, Airframe and Powerplant certification is required, before you can even become employed.
While generally this program is part of your education at whatever institution you are educated at, I however, had to take a different approach altogether. I am a 6 year Air Force veteran, that was a crew chief working on F-15 fighters the entirety of my time in the service. During that time, I created a fondness for the aviation world and decided to continue with my education into the commercial airline world. This book, a study guide, and the final exam were the only things in my way of receiving my certification and thus my own personal feeling of accomplishment.
Inside the book
This book is pretty much the definitive guide to being a commercial aircraft mechanic as set out by the Federal Aviation Administration. Any question that is going to be asked on the test, is going to come from this book, and is almost word for word as to how it's written within the book.
The book covers all of the different aspects of being an aircraft mechanic, from the basic mathematics for fuel calculations, calculating fuel ratios and gallons to pounds for weight and balance formulas. Math is extremely important in being a mechanic, as it will determine whether or not your aircraft is going to end up with it's nose in the air, because of a weight inbalance. You also have to know how much fuel is required for certain distances, which is measured in gallons, but needs to be converted back to pounds, for the weight and balance, obviously. Other math, includes figuring out where weight must be added in order to counteract weight elsewhere.
Physics is another area that's covered heavily and for obvious reasons. Everything about the aircraft is related to physics, from the pitch, roll, and drag, to laws of resistance, lift, gravity, etc. It is important as an aircraft mechanic to full understand what makes an aircraft fly, how it stays in the air, and what components are used in order to keep it in the air.
Hydraulic, pneudraulic, and mechanical dynamics are discussed pretty thoroughly as to help you better understand the inner workings of the aircrafts that you could potentially be working on. Without this knowledge, there would be a lot more flight disasters.
This is a definite book for anyone that wants to get their Airframe and Powerplant license. If you don't have this book you are putting yourself at an extreme disadvantage and are essentially taking the test blind. I don't care how much you think you know about aviation from going to college, you don't know nearly enough. This book ensures that you are fully trained and ready to go in the world of aviation as a fully licensed mechanic.
The book is written at about a 6th grade level, so anyone can easily understand it, and use it effectively. The book is extremely technical and nature and I wouldn't really recommend it for anyone that has absolutely no previous aircraft background. While I think that most anyone can pick the book up and understand the basic concepts, I don't think that they will truly understand their application in relation to actual aircraft and technologies.
For those that have had major experience working on a flight line in the past, this book is still a must. While you may think that your many years of hands on experience and countless hours of classroom teachings will prepare you, you will surely be surprised. While generally mechanics are educated on a few different airframes, this book and the certification, require you to have general knowledge of all working aircraft. This means that there's information within the book that you will not know already, which could cost you in the test if you don't take the time to prepare ahead of time. I found that there was a lot that I didn't know, however, I have never worked on a commercial aircraft or even a cargo aircraft before, so it was mostly new to me. There's a big difference between fighters and standard passenger aircraft.
But overall, if you're looking to pass the test, this is the way to go and I assure you that if you take the time, you'll definitely pass with this guide. There isn't another guide that has more information in it on the market at current. So, if you want to be a mechanic bad enough, you'll be glad you chose this book.