4 Simple Mistakes to Avoid as New Aircraft Mechanics
Don’t Sweat it man, Just be Cool..
Nobody graduates A&P school an expert. We are all human and are prone to mistakes both at work and at home. I know I have made my fair share of mistakes and admittingly, I will continue to make mistakes but with time I have been getting better at hiding them. I am just joking…sort of.
Adopting the know-it-all mentality. Ok, you are fresh out of A&P school or some other form of training and you are wanting to “prove your smartness” on the rest of us, I get that. I was once this young naive mechanic as well. This is a normal occurrence with aircraft mechanics and is for the most part a positive sign that you actually care about your job. Just be cautious with your know-it-all mentality and remember that A&P school is only the foundation for your education, you must continue to learn and being a know it all, hinders that learning process because, well, you already know it all. I have seen this often on the hangar floor. Mechanics will even get into arguments trying to prove who is smarter, which one is more right or who is a better aircraft mechanic. It is one thing to be confident in your ability, it is another thing to be down right annoying
I would much rather people think I am dumb and then surprise them with my technical abilities than have it the other way around. If you are a new mechanic, then it is understood that you probably don’t know much about your new job. This is perfectly fine and is to be expected. Mechanics will take you under their wing and teach you how they get things done. Every company does things “their own way” and you must follow their procedures. Being a know-it-all also can be dangerous because if you need help with something, or you have a question, you may be hesitant to ask because you are afraid to be viewed as ignorant.
Don’t go broke buying tools right away. Get the basics while you are still attending A and P License school. After getting your first gig, spring for a decent tool box. Over time you can add tools and eventually you will have everything you need. Just because you are working on expensive aircraft, doesn’t mean you have to buy the most expensive tools. Matco has a really good student discount on tools. Most of the big tool companies have discounts but Matco has one that is all done online and instantly gives you access to the discount. Plus, shipping is free with orders over 50 dollars. Even Harbor Freight has some decent tools, especially ones that you may not use that often. I have a set of Bonney Wrenches that were super cheap and also work great.
The Maintenance Manual Haters
Don’t get some comfortable at your job that you forget to read the aircraft manual. Often times, as confidence builds, we tend to not look up the book for the proper procedures. It is not only regulation that we have maintenance manuals or other approved data, we also must understand what the manuals are telling us. Just because someone told you that you can do it a better way, you still need to look up the proper procedure in the manual.
If you are not looking at the manual, you are missing important “notes, cautions and warnings”. Always make sure you are using the most current reference materials and make sure you know how to tell they are most current. A FAA inspector can show up and ask you to prove that your manuals are the most current revision. Make sure you know how to check and verify.
The Rushing Manic-Mechanic
Being a new mechanic, you may feel the need to try to prove yourself. You may feel pressure to complete tasks in a timely manner. Everyone works at their own pace, and I can tell you that there is always pressure to get an aircraft fixed. A broken airplane does not make much money. We all have a comfortable work speed which we are most effective. You have to learn what your sweet spot is and be most effective as an aircraft mechanic and attempt to work at that pace. This may take years to finally figure out, but it will come with time. A rushed mechanic will make more mistakes. Mistakes mean the aircraft will be down longer and cost more money. Feeling pressure to get it fixed is normal, but you should never rush your work. Regardless of the pressure to get the aircraft fixed, it is not worth losing your A&P certifications because of mistakes or being caught following improper procedures should the FAA show up to visit. Learn to chill out, you will think more clearly and actually get things done faster by slowing down.
These are simple mistakes that even seasoned mechanics will make. There is no such thing as a perfect aircraft mechanic, but we can strive to be a better mechanic. Avoiding these mistakes will make you a better and smarter mechanic in the long run. Leave your egos at the door because we all screw things up sometimes, if we work to correct our mistakes, we not only protect our jobs, but more importantly provide safer air travel for everyone.
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
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