I like to talk to the people who maintain our airplanes to learn more about the aircraft and to see their side of the story. And I'm trying, chip-by-chip, to break down the wall that exists between the two sides of the operation.
Some maintenance people seem to think all pilots are ignoramuses who have no idea how their aircraft work, and simply spend their day breaking airplanes. And I can understand that viewpoint. The people who disassemble and reassemble a system are going to know it better than the people who just pull the levers. And no matter how thoroughly they fix the airplanes, whenever they let the pilots fly them, the airplanes eventually come back broken.
When I do a test flight with an AME on board watching, sometimes I feel like they're going to say, "well no wonder it keeps breaking, if you're going to fly it like that." So far they haven't, though. And for some repairs, the airplane can't be officially released from maintenance without my signature under a rubber stamp confirming that I have flown it and that the aircraft conforms to the standard of the type. Meaning that no significant parts came off in my hands during the test flight.
This is where the pilots who think maintenance are stupid get their side of the story. Pilots tell maintenance that the gear won't stay up, or that the ammeter spikes for no apparent reason and then the mechanics sign it off and send it back online. The problem recurs, and the pilots think the mechanics are incompetent. Sometimes it takes a few iterations to identify the root cause.
And some things are hard to understand. An apprentice was telling me how the steering works on an Airbus. He described a linkage and then said, "Everything inside is PFM."
Aviation is rife with acronyms and terms, and Airbus has been keen on reinventing existing terminology, so I wasn't too surprised not to recognize the term. "PFM?" I asked.
He explained. "Everything inside is pure magic." I so walked in to that one.
And I know a pilot that got back at an arrogant AME by asking him about the flux capacitor. The AME was happy to tell the pilot it was located in the wing. He was, of course, thinking of the flux gate compass, but the pilot got a good laugh out of hearing the mechanic bluff on about the crucial component of a fictitious time machine.