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Applied Understanding

Posted 2 years 305 days ago ago by Admin

Several years ago, I attended an aircraft maintenance course designed for a specific model of aircraft. On day one, the instructor told the class that in the classroom environment we would only retain twenty percent of the information that we would be taught. I promptly raised my hand and asked if we would receive an eighty percent refund. Everyone laughed except the instructor. In the years that have followed, the only thing I remember about that class is that statement.

 I accepted that statement at the time because it was an excuse not to know; however, the 20/80 statement is far from the truth. It is my responsibility to know my aircraft and to learn everything I can about my machine. I have come to realize that knowledge is just knowledge until it is applied. When knowledge is applied it then becomes understanding and understanding becomes experience and experience becomes wisdom. My friend Jack Roach once told me that, “the answer is in the problem”.  This statement resonated with me because when troubleshooting a problem with an aircraft we always start with the problem and work our way backward until the issue that caused the problem is exposed. The repair is then made, and the aircraft is returned to service.

I apply this process every time I troubleshoot a problem whether on the aircraft, my truck or at home. The application is made, and the answer is determined. This is what I call applied understanding and it is effective in all areas of life.

Taking ownership of the aircraft you maintain requires applied understanding.  Don't forget that you own the records as well. Airworthiness is yours for the keeping. Yes, maintaining aircraft is a huge job. It has long hours and can be thankless. Our reward is when we see the machine break the effects of gravity and lift safely in the air.

In my opinion, we should take that 20/80 statement and flip it to, at the very least, 80/20. Then we should pursue the twenty like a persistent warrior on a mission.  If you have the privilege of continued education and specific aircraft certification opportunities, decide before you enter the classroom that you will retain and use at least 80% of what you gain there to keep all aircraft operating at 100%.

About the author: Mark dedicated the majority of his career serving the helicopter EMS community from Base Mechanic to Director of Maintenance. As Vice President & General Manager of Precision Aircraft Services, Mark now serves helicopter operators from many sectors to include Air Ambulance, Law Enforcement, Private Owners, etc. When not at work, Mark can be found spending time with his family or sitting in a tree stand.