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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Technician Training

Tony Capozzi

In tough economic times, who can afford to send their mechanics to a manufacturer’s school? Considering the travel, hotel, meals, lost time on the job, not to mention the cost of the school, some feel it’s a luxury that you can’t afford. But before you take that decision, consider what it may cost if your mechanics are not properly trained.

To gain optimal performance of your aircraft, factory school is a key ingredient. Whether it is supporting the airframe, powerplant or equipment and tools, detailed and specific training is required. Factory training from manufacturers gives valuable insight into the specific requirements of their equipment and ultimately will enable your maintenance staff to properly identify and solve problems effectively and efficiently as they arise on a daily basis. It is critical that your mechanics have specific and detailed training similar to the training your pilots receive.

Beneficial relationships are fostered when your staff has spent time face to face with the range of personnel that they are likely to meet at the factory. Every employee at the manufacturer knows how important it is to train the users of their equipment because it ultimately will determine their success or failure. Everyone you have the opportunity to speak with will proudly explain the specific details of their job because of their pride in their product. Usually you’ll have an opportunity to meet everyone from the CEO/president to technical support, engineers, parts specialist, and the folks working the factory floor. If you keep a close eye on their methods and techniques, you will always pick up a trick or new idea on how to work with their product and get the latest information about future products. You also have an opportunity to explain common problems, and may even be able to influence a design change that is beneficial to both you and the manufacturer.

You may feel that since you’ve sent one of your technicians to the factory training several years ago he should be able to train all of your personnel. That is not always the case. During time, unused procedures become fuzzy and maintenance practices change. Everyone remembers the game that was played when you tell someone a short story and then it is passed on to the next person. When the story gets to the last person in the line, it usually doesn’t even sound familiar. Going to a factory school will avoid these problems as well as dispel myths that inevitably tend to flourish.

In the event you’re only able to send one technician to the factory school pick the one that is best able to take detailed notes and communicate with their fellow workers. Most factory schools encourage photography in the classroom and labs. Detailed notes along with a thorough photographic log of procedures go a long way in improving the memory and assuring consistency in repairs. Although many schools do allow photography in the classroom, most do not allow photography in the factory to protect proprietary processes and techniques.

Going to factory training usually gives your technician the opportunity to go through each maintenance procedure in detail with expert oversight. They are able to practice complex, high-level procedures that increase understanding and boosts confidence and ability. This understanding is now firsthand knowledge and proves invaluable in the field. Additionally, thru comprehensive training, rumors and misunderstood procedures are dispelled which will ultimately save you time, money and assure a quality product.

As you can see, having your maintenance personnel properly trained should be viewed as an asset rather than an expense. It will produce a long-term, consistent maintenance product that will be sought after throughout the industry and be a key ingredient in your success.

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