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Maintenance Minute - Airworthy

Posted 303 days ago ago by Admin

He walked into my office as a confident 22-year-old with the ink still wet on his newly issued Airframe & Powerplant certificate that he proudly carried in his pocket. The young man looked at me and said, “I want to be a helicopter mechanic”.  After a brief discussion, his enthusiasm and seemingly sense of life’s direction convinced me to take a chance on him. I placed him under the supervision of a 38-year master helicopter mechanic. My instruction to the young man was “learn from him.”

A few weeks later as I was watching this young man installing a rotor hub, it suddenly hit me…The A&P certificate in his pocket gives him authority as an FAA representative to return aircraft to service. Authority without experience can be a dangerous combination. Confidence without experience can also be dangerous. There is absolutely no substitute for experience. To grow as an experienced, confident helicopter mechanic takes time and training. It’s a long-term investment, and hopefully in the end you will get what you pay for.

 Often, I have written about perspective and explained that perspective is how we view a thing. Try this experiment: Walk around the hangar or flight line and have a conversation with each mechanic.  Ask them these two questions. # 1- What is the definition of airworthy? Most will say something about safe operation, but a few might mention type design. #2 -What does it mean when you make a logbook entry using the words, “I Certify” and then sign your name and your certificate number? Be ready to get some very strange looks. I’m willing to bet the difference in the answers will be in direct proportion to experience level of the person asked.

Helicopter maintenance is not just about nuts and bolts. The aircraft is not only to be safe it also must be legal.

It’s no secret that there is a shortage of A&P mechanics. Industry experts predict a severe drought and that 2027 will be the peak with an approximate 43,000 gap in aircraft mechanics. If we know the famine is coming, shouldn’t we fill our silos now?

 To maintain safety of flight and sustain our businesses, I believe it is imperative that we recruit people that share our vision, train them to a standard, give honest feedback on evaluations and create a culture of continuous improvement. It’s also very important that we, as mechanics, share the company vision or what I refer to as a corporate purpose. At the forefront we are to provide a safe and legal aircraft. How can anyone do this if they haven’t been taught? How can anyone have a vision or purpose if no one ever asked them?

The storm is upon us. Find people that share the vision and invest in them. Learn to trust them as they grow and be confident when they certify the aircraft is airworthy.


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