Since the first Pentium was installed in Honeywell’s Primus 1000 system, OEMs have relied on laptops for business aircraft maintenance functions. The latest generations of business aircraft are delivered with dedicated laptops. However, once the aircraft departs the completion center, you often find that you are on your own to maintain this new and sometimes unfamiliar addition to your flight department. Knowing that a failed laptop can wreak havoc, it is wise to take measures to ensure the best possible service life from your maintenance laptops. The following represents some guidelines that may assist in prolonging the service life of your equipment.
I highly recommend leaving your maintenance computer’s Wi-Fi disabled. This is not an email laptop. This is not for on-line Field 5 access. Maintenance laptops often have little or no anti-virus protection because anti-virus software can interfere with talking with the aircraft. In addition to that, laptop network security settings are often set to provide little protection to make communications easier for avionics software.
Installer executables on Microsoft Operating Systems are often given administrative access to computer assets, which mean that they can cause things to not work. There is a reason why our installation department has 5 different Windows XP / 3.1 laptops. It is because some maintenance programs can actually conflict with others and make both applications not work properly.
I know that sounds like common sense, but there is always someone, you know who you are, who thinks they were a computer science major in a past life and likes to “poke around” when a program does not run properly. DO NOT do it. I have spent hours figuring out why a dual core laptop would not connect to a Cabin Management system, it was the hyper-threading option in the Bios settings. A careless key stroke or mouse double-click can mean a lot of lost sleep. Call a Field Service Rep immediately for assistance.
If you must change a setting on your aircraft’s maintenance laptop, change it back when you are done or when it is determined that the setting is unrelated to the computer failure you are experiencing. I recognize that “poking around” can also be legitimate troubleshooting. Take the time to make detailed notes of your action and reverse your changes as you go.
When at Completions, get one or two spare laptops of the same model number as backups. Many times when a laptop fails, the component that failed is actually replaceable. The problem arises when the model laptop you possess is no longer supported in about 3-5 years and replacement parts are not available. It is not a bad idea to have a couple of laptops lying around that you can use should something go very wrong.
There is nothing more pointless than performing Microsoft updates on your aircraft maintenance laptop. Two major functions of Microsoft updaters are to alter security settings to make your machine more secure and make tweaks to the OS that permit the system to work with new programs. Because you want your OS to continue to work with the software already loaded, performing Microsoft Updates will generally not benefit you.
Following these simple recommendations will help keep your maintenance laptop healthy and in good working order.
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