Think You've Got Communication Problems?
by Susan Dunn

Here are some maintenance log entries from a major airline - or so the email says, showing the problems reported by pilots and solutions recorded by mechanics. In general aviation it's called a "snag" log and it's obviously an extremely important method of communication to ensure any "issues" get communicated and properly resolved.

It's probably true. You couldn't make these things up.

Pilot entry: Left inside main try almost needs replacement.
Mechanic entry: Almost replaced left inside main try.

Pilot entry: Test flight OK, except autoload very rough.
Mechanic entry: Autoland not installed on this aircraft.

Pilot: No. 2 propeller seeping prop fluid.
Mechanic: No. 2 propeller seepage normal. Nos. 1, 3 & 4 propellers lack normal seepage.

Pilot: Something loose in cockpit.
Mechanic: Something tightened in cockpit.

Pilot: Dead bugs on windshield.
Mechanic: Live bugs on backorder.

Pilot: Autopilot in altitude hold mode produces a 200-fpm descent.
Mechanic: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

Pilot: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
Mechanic: Evidence removed.

Pilot: DME volume unbelievably loud.
Mechanic: DME volume set to more believable level.

Pilot: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
Mechanic: That's what they're there for!

Pilot: OFF inoperative.
Mechanic: OFF always inoperative in OFF mode.

Pilot: Suspected crack in windscreen.
Mechanic: Suspect you're right.

Pilot: Number 3 engine missing.
Mechanic: Engine found on right wing after brief search. [The pilot meant engine 'misfiring'.]

Pilot: Aircrafts handles funny.
Mechanic: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right, and be serious.

Pilot: Radar hums.
Mechanic: Reprogrammed radar with words.

Pilot: Mouse in cockpit.
Mechanic: Cat installed.

Communication's hard in the work world, and in our private lives. Someone said "Whatever you say, assume it's been misunderstood," and it's probably a good idea.

We tend to think things are easier somewhere else - that the communications we have between inside sales and outside sales are worse in our place, or the communication between lawyer and paralegal, or between partner and partner, or that surely pilots and mechanics can communicate - there's "only" an airplane between them.

As I say in my ebook, "Communication," good communication takes a lot of work - expressing yourself clearly, listening up, and repeating back for clarification to make sure you've understood and been understood. It's particularly hard in writing where there's no feedback (as we see here), and no non-verbals to read.

It also requires excellent emotional intelligence skills - creativity, flexibility, intuition, and empathy. 67% of the qualities that contribute to success are emotional intelligence competencies. Work on your communication! It'll pay off in both your private and your professional life.

Susan Dunn, M.A., is an executive coach, speaker, writer, and author of a series of ebooks on emotional intelligence. She is dedicated to bringing EQ into the workplace with seminars and workshops, individual coaching, and adjunctive distance learning courses. Visit her on the web at and for a free ezine about EQ in the workplace. Please put "EQ" in the subject line.

Many more articles on Communications in The CEO Refresher Archives


Copyright 2003 by Susan Dunn. All rights reserved.

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