I’ve been in the maintenance game a long time, I’ve seen a few things that didn't make sense, so I’ve always stood by the view that maintenance ain’t maintenance.
Let me explain this to you.
A couple of months ago, the airline industry was going through a rough patch. Not a week would go by without a scare, a close shave or the last minute grounding of a plane that was damaged, had lost a part or had something fail five seconds before take-off.
With equipment and machinery, especially complicated and involved assets such as planes, it all comes down to effective maintenance. I am not saying the planes aren’t maintained to their legal standards, but perhaps not to the level they could be.
To give you an example; many years ago I was working at a power station, general chit-chat turned to the topic of turbine maintenance. The engineer on site then proceeded to explain filter plates to me. The method of maintaining these plates was to take a hose and blow out the filter. This is compared to the old way, which was to remove the plates completely and then clean them by hand.
Both of these techniques sound like good methods to achieve an accountable result. Is one method better than the other? The answer is yes. These filters, as was explained to me, have a large impact on the overall efficiency of the unit - the better the clean the better the efficiency. Blowing-out the filter is only a cursory effort, it does the job, but will not provide the best possible performance from the unit. Proper cleaning is a better solution and will actually save you time and money in the long run.
Relating that back to airplane maintenance. Yes, you can maintain the airplane so it meets all regulatory requirements, but is this maintenance as good as what it could be? I am not convinced.