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You might assume that troubleshooting is something everyone knows how to do, but it's not that simple. Remember when you were new: were these things obvious?

Some people are ok learning as they go, but we suggest using a systematic approach to facilitate and, more importantly, accelerate the development of troubleshooting skills in aircraft maintenance engineers.

In this article, we present a list of essential steps for troubleshooting to get to the bottom of the problem as fast and safely as possible. Whether you are looking to help someone new to the task or to refresh your own skills, this cheat sheet will help effectively diagnose and resolve issues.


  1. Crew Debrief: Have all crew members directly involved discussed the issue thoroughly?

  2. Problem Definition: Is the issue clearly understood and articulated?

  3. Aircraft Awareness: Does the aircraft provide specific error messages, diagnostics, or logs for review?

  4. Normal Operation: How should the system ideally function? What constitutes normal operation?

  5. Full Inspection: Have comprehensive checks, such as a walk-around and tests, been completed?

  6. Prerequisites Met: Are all necessary conditions for operation fulfilled (e.g., power supply)?

  7. Maintenance History: What is the maintenance record of the affected system and related components?

  8. Recent Replacements: Which parts have been recently replaced, and what is their current status (new or used)?

  9. Recreating the Issue: Can the problem be reproduced to understand its causes better?

  10. Impact Factors: What factors exacerbate or alleviate the issue?

  11. System Limits: Is the system operating within its specified limits?

  12. Routine Maintenance: Could regular maintenance resolve the issue?

  13. Simplifying Complexity: Can the problem be simplified by restoring defaults, restarting, or deactivating unnecessary features?

  14. Learning from Others: Has anyone else successfully resolved a similar issue?

  15. Tools Availability: Do I have the necessary tools for the repair?

  16. Documentation Approach: How should I document my actions (e.g., notes, photos)?

  17. Gathering Information: If deferring repair, how can I gather more data before the next maintenance opportunity?

Before starting the repair, consider:

  1. Downtime Impact: Will this repair cause downtime? Who needs to be informed?

  2. Repair Duration: How long will the repair take, and what are the consequences if it's delayed?

  3. Risk Assessment: What are the risks involved, and can the repair process be reversed if necessary?

If you wish to download a printable version of this Aircraft Troubleshooting Cheat Sheet, click here:

To effectively teach new technicians troubleshooting skills, you have several options. You can let them learn as they go, encourage them to research the topic, pair them with experienced colleagues who can guide them through the learning process, or enroll them in a specialized troubleshooting training course. Most of those approaches ensure they learn the necessary skills, but some are more efficient than others. It all depends on your operation and resources. One thing is certain: you must encourage them to develop those skills to succeed in their role and for your operation to thrive.

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