Flightline technicians need a stronger voice in the test equipment business

THE MIL & AERO BLOG, 7 Oct. 2014. The flightline test experts buying and specifying test equipment need to improve their communications with the technicians using that equipment, or risk playing a guessing game that could lead to the wrong choices.

After big defense cuts, what lies ahead?
After big defense cuts, what lies ahead?
THE MIL & AERO BLOG, 7 Oct. 2014. The flightline test experts buying and specifying test equipment need to improve their communications with the technicians using that equipment, or risk playing a guessing game that could lead to the wrong choices.

That's the advice from Steve Sargeant, CEO of flightline test specialist Marvin Test Solutions Inc. in Irvine, Calif. Even though many test equipment specifiers begin their careers with aircraft maintenance and troubleshooting, they can become disconnected from test equipment users and can make the wrong decisions on what flightline technicians really need, Sergeant says.

"The further and farther away they are from the flightline, the less they know," Sergeant says. "It's not a derogatory comment; it's just the truth."

Related: Air Force chooses flightline test equipment from Marvin for A-10C close-air-support jet

The problem isn't that test gear buyers aren't making efforts to talk to their flightline technicians, but the culture of aircraft maintenance experts sometimes creates a formidable divide.

"Maintainers are a special breed," Sergeant says. "They are never going to complain; they just get the job done." Instead, it might be better for test equipment buyers and users to if the flightline technician were to speak-up more forcefully and more often then they're used to doing, Sergeant advises.

"Guys and gals on the flightline, please realize that the people who have graduated into the acquisition ranks want the best for you, but you have a responsibility of telling them what you want and need," Sergeant says.

Related: Trends in flight-line test gear include smaller equipment, software-defined tasks, and generic test sets

For the same token, test equipment specifiers need to do what they can to break down the cultural barriers that can separate them from the flightline crews. "Stay in touch with the community, and stay as engaged as you can," Sergeant urges test equipment buyers.

For flightline test equipment buyers and users, Sergeant says both sides need to create an environment in which the technicians believe their voices are heard and respected. Buyers, Sergeant says, "Need the voices and the questions of the airmen."

Without this kind of communication, Sergeant warns, the wrong kinds of test equipment will get to the flightline and complicate the lives of aircraft maintainers, military air crews, and the flying public.

Flightline test equipment buyers "can't afford to waste their resources guessing," Sergeant says. "They need to bring the people with grease on their hands into the process early and often. Life can be good if people strive for some mutually beneficial ground."

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