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Using Technology to Troubleshoot Instrument Squawks

July 2016

Instrument flags

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words……  A Video Says it All.

When experiencing issues with flight instruments, hard failures are often the easiest to resolve. The problem is constant; it is easily duplicated on the bench and quickly repaired. Conversely, intermittent problems can be the most frustrating, often NOT obvious when on the bench, intermittent and dependent on the physical orientation of the indicator’s internal workings or other outside factors.

Often, the technician is working solely on the description of the squawk provided by the Pilot, the Line Tech, or the third party who sent the unit in. Squawks can be detailed and provide all known information… or may be brief (“INOP”). 

Fortunately, most pilots or line techs are already carrying one of the most helpful troubleshooting tools known to man, a phone with a camera.  Providing pictures or video of the unit that show the actual squawk when it occurs can be of great value to the technician on the bench.  It can clarify which display is acting up, which flag or meter is sticking, where the compass card is hanging up, etc. It can also provide clues to the technician to the cause of problems, even if he or she is not able to duplicate the squawk on the bench.

In the end, providing a picture or video of the squawk can often achieve what a written or verbal description cannot, get the right problem fixed right the first time and get the customer back flying in the shortest amount of time.