"Wonder whats going on at work today" often is the thought of the general aviation maintenance technician on Monday's drive to work. "Everything is normal so far" as the time card is punched in and filled out. The weekly time sheet for work performed is also filled out-"good mornings" to all are passed around and then the supervisor is found. Assignment is taken to service the engine on Nxxxx for the 100 hour inspection. Time to roll the toolbox into position and get started. First thing to do is check the paperwork to see what has been done already. The checklist shows that all items are still open and need to be done. (don't want to change the oil filter twice).
Going down the checklist, the parts that will be used are gathered together all at once to prevent many trips to the parts room. Oil filter, air filter, oil, suction screen gasket, carburetor screen gasket, spark plug gaskets, etc. are all brought to the airplane and the work begins. Removing the filter using the proper drain trough to keep from making an oily mess, cutting it open for visual inspection, lubing the new filter gasket, installing the filter and safeting the filter all take about 0.6 hours. Initial the checklist indicating completion of the item, record the time to do the work, sign out the parts used and on to the next item.
The morning goes on normally as the engine servicing is completed: oil suction screen is inspected, cleaned, reinstalled and saftied; engine is serviced with oil (every general aviation maintenance technician has left the drain plug open at least once in his career and wondered why the oil is going on the hangar floor when it is being put in the engine); change or service the induction air filter; drain the carburetor bowl and resafety the plug; check the magnetos timing; inspect and clean the carburetor or fuel controller inlet screen; clean, gap, test, rotate & reinstall all of the spark plugs; dress nicks from the propeller blades & paint the face black; lube exhaust system slip joints; clean the engine and lube all of the engine controls. Before you know it, its time for lunch already. It has been a good morning-nothing unusual was found with the engine and "chatter" about the weekend football games with co-workers who are working on other parts of the airplane has been interesting.
A half hour for lunch-leftover meatloaf from Saturday's dinner-also goes by quickly with more talk about everyone's favorite football team. (nobody here won the airport weekly pool)
Assignment after lunch is to repair the discrepancy items found by the inspector of this aircraft. (It was not this technician's turn to accomplish this 100 hour inspection). Change a leaking gasket for the intake port, repair a cracked air baffle, change the starter bendix drive, clear a few chafes, replace a cracked rubber grommet for the mixture control cable, etc. are all of the typical items done by the general aviation maintenace technician. This type of servicing and repairs of minor items keeps the engine in "good shape" and minimizes the down time in-between inspections. Another way to maintain the aircraft is "break/fix" but I do not agree with this concept. My philosophy has always been to do preventative maintenance. Pilots expect the aircraft to perform as the Pilots Operating Handbook says it will and a leaking intake port gasket may cause the engine to not perform to "book specs". The worn starter bendix drive may fail at an airport that does not have a mechanic to make a repair and the purpose of flying an airplane is defeated as the pilot is now a driver of a rental car to return home.
It is not uncommon to be interrupted during ones work day to accomplish other tasks. Airplanes need to be moved in and out of the hangar, airplanes stopping for gas may have a leaking fuel drain valve that needs to be fixed, another technician may need some help riveting and who knows what else. It is important to use a checklist to keep track of what you have done due to the possibility of interruptions.
All during the day, the work that is done is described by writing a brief narrative on the work order, the parts are recorded and the labor is also recorded to allow proper billing. This type of record keeping is important not only for billing the customer but results in a legal document that may be reviewed by the FAA during an audit.
It has been another good day and it feels like the airways will be safer because of my work. See http://www.pama.org/content.asp?contentid=160 for the Aircraft Mechanics Creed that I ascribe to.