There are times, however, when the manual calls out for us to change a part and that part looks nothing like what it really (at least in your own opinion) look like. Perhaps the most widely known example of this trickery I can think of is the "Black Box". We all know that the black box is actually orange, but imagine how confusing this would be to a person outside of the aviation field.
|The orange "Black Box"|
Often when I change any part of the avionics on our planes I bring the box up to the jetway to do the paperwork. Most of the avionics boxes are black and so when the passengers amble down the jetway to board I usually get one or two remarks about why I'm changing the "Black Box". I even hear parents telling their kids in hushed tones how "that part records all the airplane info". I usually don't correct the passengers unless they address me directly.
This nomenclature issue came up the other day at work. I had a call about the fire warning system not testing properly. When I got up to the plane the captain says that the fire warning system does not test when it's on the DC bus.
This is the first call of my day so after I clear the fog from my brain and take the plane off the ground power bus (onto the DC bus) sure enough the "Master Caution" light did not illuminate when I did the fire warning test. Naturally I'm thinking why would the fire warning test not turn on the Master Caution? Lets BITE check the fire warning box (no help), maybe change the fire control module to see if that helps.
At this point I make myself slow down because changing that fire control box is a big deal. The check out (test) for that control box is about an hour long. Before I do that I call for a wiring diagram for the fire warning DC system. When the wiring diagram comes I start to think I'm going down the wrong route with the problem. Sure enough after some more checks I realized we had a Master Caution problem not a fire warning problem. After I get some more prints for the correct system we narrow the problem down to the Master Caution Dimming Module. Now here is where the real problem starts.
A "Module" to a Line Mechanic is a box that contains wires/lights/relays and all the other little magic electrons that make an airplane do what it is supposed to. A "Module" is a squareish metal thingy that has a cannon plug connected to it.
The wiring diagram says the Master Caution Dimming Relay lives behind the P6-3 panel. Now me and another two guys, lets call them MoneyMaker and DaDude, take turns looking for this module. behind this panel are lots of wires, relays, modules and miles of wires. Each is labelled with a small white sticker that announces its equipment list number. We spent the better part of an hour looking for this module to no avail.
Back behind the panel is also a little door which when opened is hiding a circuit card. All three of us opened that door and saw this circuit card and all three of us were like "well, that's not a module, it's a card".
Long story short one of the guys in the shop must have called Boeing or The Answer Man or someone because a little past an hour later DaDude comes back to the plane and says "So and so says it looks like a circuit card". MoneyMaker and I look at each other and say "No F-ing way!!".
That "module" is a circuit card hidden behind a small door. And to make matters worse the thing is correctly marked, but to see the marking you have to stick your head into the P6-3 panel crane it around and then and only then would you see the Module Number sticker.
So any of you engineers out there:
Why not call that "module" a "card"?
Why not give that little door it's own panel number?
Why not put a little sticker on the damn little door that says "hey, the M(###) lives in here!
Turns out we didn't have the circuit board in stock anyway and once it came in it did fix the problem but the real issue here is the word "module".
Now that I have expanded my work vocabulary to make sure a circuit board can be called a module and likely vice-versa, I'm not really looking forward to the so called 737-MAX and all it's new vocabulary!