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Maintenance Minute - March 2022

Posted 180 days ago ago by Admin

My dad recently celebrated his 90th birthday. We had a wonderful day reminiscing about all the good times we shared hunting, fishing, and playing ball together. When I was around ten years old, he taught me one profound lesson during a walk on a ridge line. Dad noticed that I was looking at the ground under my feet rather than surveying the landscape. He turned, and said, “Son, you’re not gonna to find a deer under your feet.” His lesson continued as he told me to always look out in front of me, scanning the horizon for minute details such as an ear flickering or the swoosh of a white tail. He stressed the importance of taking notice of things that were horizontal. Since everything in the woods grew vertically something horizontal might just be a deer’s back.

Noticing anything that was out of the ordinary proved valuable to me in hunting and in aircraft maintenance. My favorite author, Andy Andrews has written several enjoyable books about being a noticer. He even considers himself as a professional noticer. As aircraft mechanics we should too. In fact, every time I walk next to an aircraft, I am looking for things out of the ordinary. Just this week a customer brought in a new helicopter with just over a hundred total flight hours. Following my usual routine, I walked over to the helicopter and just stood looking at it before the mechanics began the inspection. A young mechanic, new to our team, was watching me and finally he asked what I was looking at. My reply was, “anything out of the ordinary.” I went on to explain that it is good to back up and get the overall picture. The list of things that show up includes torque stripe alignment, backwards safety wire, gearbox oil level, oil leaks especially near elastomers, bleeding rivets, the amount of weight on rotating components and many others. Believe me when I say that I have found discrepancies just from this quick look. Just a few minutes of “noticing” will soon become a habit and it will become easier to see things out of the ordinary.

Details matter, the trivial things matter. Quoting Andrews from one of his books, “Your big picture will never be a masterpiece if you ignore the tiny brushstrokes.”  Every aircraft speaks a unique language. We must take the time to stop, look and listen to see and hear. Become a Noticer and you will be glad you did.

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.




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