Aircraft Maintenance Technical Problem Comments

These aircraft maintenance comments are allegedly from ‘gripe sheets’ or ‘squawk reports’ which enable/enabled pilots to report aircraft technical problems and responses from maintenance engineers.

Various origins are suggested by the many different interpretations of these items, most popularly Qantas and the US Air Force, although it’s highly unlikely that all these comments are from a single original source, especially given the mixture of technology featured, and that some are probably military and others not.

This is not an attempt to present a factually reliable or accurate listing of these items, if one ever existed at all – it’s just a list of the funniest examples.

If you know the true origins of any of these please let me know.

These amusing communications illustrate the implications of using vague language, as well as the age-old potential for conflict and confusion between operational departments and functions, and the long-suffering tolerance of service and maintenance staff in support of operational personnel found in all industries.


Technical problem or defect reported by pilot or crew.
Remedial action or answer reported by maintenance engineer

Something loose in cockpit.
Something tightened in cockpit.

Left-inside main tyre (tire) almost needs replacing.
Almost replaced left-inside main tyre.

Autopilot tends to drop a wing when fuel imbalance reaches 500lbs.
Flight manual limits maximum fuel imbalance to 300lbs.

Unfamiliar noise coming from No2 engine.
Engine run for three hours. Noise now familiar.

Mouse in cockpit.
Cat installed.

Target radar hums.
Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.

Number three engine missing. [not firing properly presumably]
Engine found on starboard [right] wing after brief search.

Pilot’s clock inoperative.
Wound clock.

Aircraft handles funny.
Aircraft told to straighten up, fly right and be serious.

Whining sound heard on engine shutdown.
Pilot removed from aircraft.

Noise coming from under instrument panel – sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.
Took hammer away from midget.

Suspected crack in windshield.
Suspect you are right.

IFF inoperative. [IFF = Identification, Friend or Foe.]
IFF always inoperative in ‘off’ mode.

Test flight okay except Auto-Land very rough.
Auto-Land is not installed on this aircraft.

No2 ADF needle runs wild. [ADF = Automatic Direction Finder/Finding?]
Caught and tamed No2 ADF needle.

Turn and slip indicator ball stuck in center during turns.
Congratulations. You just made your first coordinated turn!

Dead bugs on windshield.
Live bugs on back order.

Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces 200 feet per minute descent.
Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
Evidence removed.

Three roaches in cabin.
One roach killed, one wounded, one got away.

DME volume set unbelievably loud. [DME = Distance Measuring Equipment?]
DME volume set to more believable level.

No2 propeller seeping prop fluid.
No2 propeller seepage normal. Nos 1, 3 and 4 propellers lack normal seepage.

Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
That’s what they are for.

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