How pilots keep track of aircraft defects

Everyone hates a delay. Passengers are late for connecting flights, airlines get fined and pilots miss yet another family event. There are no winners — except for maybe the retail outlets in the terminal. It’s even more frustrating when the delay is due to a technical problem with the aircraft.

Airliners are machines and machines break. They are complicated structures comprising of hundreds of intricate systems. The more systems and components you have, the more there is to go wrong and fixing them can take hours or even days. Getting aircraft back in the air quickly, but most importantly, safely, is the priority for airlines.

As a result, because safety is everything, aircraft are designed to be able to fly safely with not just a single defective item, but with many of them.

So how do we keep track of faults in the aircraft and how do we know which ones are safe to fly with and which ones are not?

Aircraft maintenance log

How many of you reading this right now know full well that the next time you jump in your car a fault light will illuminate? Maybe it’s either the tyre pressure or the screen wash. Maybe it’s an alert letting you know that it’s time for a regular service? You know that the same light has been coming on for weeks.

Keeping track of faults with your car is pretty straightforward. For the most part, you drive the same car every day. You know that you need to inflate the tyres. You know that you need to top up the screen wash.

However, what if you had a whole fleet of cars? What if those cars were being driven by different people each day? All of a sudden, it becomes a little more difficult to keep track of what work needs doing.

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