1. History can send you on the wrong path
It’s not about what the problem was the last time. Knowing was usually breaks on an aircraft helps. Actually, it helps a lot! Unfortunately, it’s also one of the experienced maintenance engineers’ biggest pitfalls. Applying a good thought process to finding the probable cause of this exact failure is a much better option.
2. Years on the job aren’t the whole story
Troubleshooting is easier when you are experienced, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t be good at it without years of aviation maintenance work under your belt. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the idea of “waiting” for years for experience to sink in. Like anything else, troubleshooting can be taught, practiced and improved. It can be accelerated if you are systematic in your own development.
3. You don’t have to know an aircraft type by heart
It’s not about knowing the specific aircraft model you’re working on inside and out. Once again, knowing the aircraft does help and make things easier. However, if you have to work on different aircraft models on a day-to-day basis, it may take a while before you get to know all of them enough to troubleshoot on autopilot (See? I made an aviation joke there.). Any aircraft you might work on today is pretty much designed around systems that work the same way. If you know the basics, you’ll find your way around a new aircraft easily. If you can fix an electric issue on an airplane, you’ll probably be good enough to diagnostic a car's electric system, right? Starting from the basics is the key!
4. A solid foundation is everything
Troubleshooting requires techniques and a good methodology. You didn’t learn ‘’by experience’’ how to do a proper lockwire! You learned how to do it during training, and then experience made you better and faster at it. First a good base, then experience.
5. Research is the name of the game
It doesn’t matter if you know where all the components are by heart and which access panel to open. Troubleshooting is about thinking, analysing, using a solid method and being effective. Any aircraft mechanic worth their salt can find their way to the units, that’s the easy part!
6. Yeah, we can’t help you with that one
You need to be smart to troubleshoot. Unfortunately, experience doesn’t help with that so, good luck to those who self-diagnose as not-so-bright!