Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Aliens Replaced

I picked up an airplane from maintenance. It was there for a 100 hour inspection (that's an inspection performed after the airplane has been flown for a hundred hours, not an inspection that takes a hundred hours). It usually takes two to three days, and can go to more, depending on what they find on the inspection and how much work those those items take to repair, or whether they have to order parts. I'm not sure how many hours get billed to it. I suppose if it's three guys working on it for a few days, and especially if we work them hard enough that overtime comes into the picture, it might sometimes be that kind of hundred hour, too.

Thankfully dealing with airplane maintenance bills is not my job. My job includes inspecting the airplane after it's been inspected and put back together again to ensure that nothing is obviously wrong, in advance of actually needing to fly the airplane. You'd be surprised what you can find. I've reached through the front cowling and discovered a spark plug set in its engine port and not tightened at all. I've opened the access door to check the oil and discovered an electronic testing device sitting on top of the engine. I've found inspection ports left open, lots of missing cowling screws, disconnected cowl flaps, and stuff that was on the work order but that just didn't get done. This reflects years of experience with many different maintainers at many different companies, not a reflection on my current or any particular company.

On this occasion, a hydraulic puddle appears under the airplane after I let down the flaps. It's happened before. I think they're just overenthusiastic about filling the reservoir. Everything else checks out. I also inspect the paperwork to make sure that we have the required documented proof that the inspection has been done. I see that a hydraulic fitting was adjusted, but that was to correct a small leak in the vicinity of the left main, and my puddle came out of the vent line.

The best part of reviewing the documents is AME spelling. It's can get downright cryptic if the AME is from Qu├ębec, and not working in his (usually his) native tongue. Today the person doing the paperwork is a native speaker of English, but was likely tired and in a hurry. The left propeller lever has been "realiened." I didn't even know that it had aliens in it in the first place, let alone that the aliens were required for smooth functioning and that they apparently need periodic replacement.

Okay, now I'm making fun, of course. To all AMEs, let me assure you that it is far more important to me that you know how to apply proper techniques to fix the parts of my airplane than that you can spell them. As long as I can tell what component has had what done to it, and that it worked, I'm quite happy with the paperwork you produce for me. Let me take my little bit of joy from appreciating the creative ways you spell things therein. I love that everyone uses printed stickers these days so I never have to read your handwriting, as I did ten years ago. And seriously, who would guess that aligned had a g in it?

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

My favourite misspelling: "please ensure" was spelt "please onshore"!

townmouse said...

Several years recruiting programmers has taught me that the best ones mostly can't spell AT ALL. To the point where I don't need comments in code to know who wrote which bits - the idiosyncratic spelling is generally enough. I don't know if that reflects the fact that English is horribly irregular and programmers (and mechanics) are mostly methodical people who spell words the way they ought to be spelled, or if they've just got their minds on higher things.

A Squared said...

To the point where I don't need comments in code to know who wrote which bits - the idiosyncratic spelling is generally enough.

If there were no comments, where would you get a sample of their spelling? (I'm assuming that misspelled code would get rejected by the compiler)

townmouse said...

misspelled function names and variable names - and inline comments (as opposed to block comments with initials). As long as the programmer is consistent in misspelling their own variables then the compiler doesn't care.

Sarah said...

The worst speller I ever met is also one of the smartest guys I've ever met. A physicist with a touch of ADHD would consistently misspell - that is, always use the same misspelling, which I found interesting. And amusing.

What do you need to realienate the control? I guess an alien wrench?

Anonymous said...

Did you get a new wing nut on the fuel filler flap?

Mog

Anonymous said...

And was it an Earthly one?

Mog

Cedarglen said...

Thanks. Hilarious. And yes, I've lived through the spelling games for far too many years. From a paternal family of scientists, I understand the skill that is involved with misspelling that still communicate the message; we can't write it right, but we know when it is not right. On your end, I most grateful that you spend the tome to re-inspect their work. Let us *never* forget that it is your tiny butt that drives that 'fixed' airplane at altitude. While not realistic and I understand that, I still wish for rules that require the sign-off mechanic to at least ride in the airplane during the post-maintenance inspection flight. It won't happen in my lifetime, but it might help to eliminate some of those loose spark plug and leftover tool issues. Getting the mechanic's butt into the seat next to you should be mandatory. Best wishes, -C.

Cedarglen said...

And yes, beyond spelling, typos happen too. Sadly, most blog comment routines do not check either. Drafting a quick note in an error correcting word processor and then pasting the results into the blog comment space is often not worth the trouble. Most of the time, the blogstress and her readers can devine the intended words, even from a spelling challenged and finger action challenged old fart. -C.

DataPilot said...

Maintenance engineers don't have to be spelling-challenged to be funny. A smart aleck attitude can make for hilarious reading, too. If you've never seen this listing of aircraft maintenance complaints and resolutions on snopes.com, you should.