Thursday, May 28, 2015

CSI Aircraft Maintenance (Cue Theme Music!)

As an aircraft mechanic we encounter a lot of mysteries. Sometimes the mysteries are as simple as:

Why won't this light come on?

Where is this fluid coming from?

What kind of fluid is this?

Much like that TV show CSI we are trained to dissect the problem in order to solve it. It's one of the things that I think really makes the job enjoyable. When you can figure out what is wrong with a component it's very satisfying. Follow the clues and figure it out.

Most problems are not this obvious!

For this reason it is important to hone your skills by learning to read wiring diagrams, prints and such. Also, even though it is a huge pain in the ass, you will need to get your Run and Taxi license as well as your CAT ticket. These things help us to correctly troubleshoot!

Not as hard to read as it would seem.

Sometimes (and this is the dark side of it) the CSI reveals that some of your coworkers are lets say- working harder at trying to find an excuse to NOT fix something then it would take to simply fix it.

I'll give you an example. When I arrived at work in the morning one of the planes was broken. The fellow who was working on it is not one of the sharpest tools in the shed. You know the type, always troubleshoots down to the part which is "not in stock."He miraculously cannot get to the hard MEL because he is still "working his check."

Long story short we decided to start the troubleshooting process over from the beginning due to this guys rep. Sure enough within an hour we figured out that this guy lied about what was going on and all we had to do was change "the big part" to fix the issue. Another hour and we had the plane back in service.

So what do you do when you find out a fellow mechanic simply lied to get out of doing work? What can you do? If your leaders (management) already knows about the guy (and they do) there is little you can do. Complain? Sure. But nothing official. Just kind of keep it in the memory bank and watch your work when that guy is involved.

There are other times when we do the unexpected (at least to non-mechanics) to solve the mystery. A pilot will call us about a leak and we show up, first thing we do is touch it and rub it between our fingers, smell it, and sometimes to the horror of the pilot you taste it. He or she is in horror but I'll wager that an aircraft mechanic is one of few people who can tell the difference between oil and hydraulic fluid by taste! Admit it once you have tasted hydraulic fluid you can never forget the taste.

There are other times when your CSIing will figure out that the flight crew input some incorrect info into their FMC! Those are great times almost as satisfying as finding the CB popped while the crew is struggling to figure out why some system won't work.

So...keep sharp, never stop learning, be honest and hone those taste buds!!