Troubleshooting Tips for Pilots


Be smart and do a little investigative work before heading to the nearest avionics shop for service. There are several simple things you can do that will help your service people diagnose your problem. Most importantly, know the complete make and model number of the equipment you have and remember to be as specific as possible when describing the symptoms. Telling your avionics shop that a piece of equipment simply doesn’t work is an invitation for disappointment! Here are a few general tips to consider.

First, how does the audio sound? Is it strong and clear? This does not just pertain to communication radios, but also navigation, DME, ADF and other systems that receive audio signals. If the audio is clean then the odds are good that the antenna system is functioning properly. If the audio quality is poor, try turning off other pieces of electrical equipment to eliminate and isolate the possibility of RF interference. This includes turning off strobe lights, beacons and notably the aircraft alternator!

Problems transmitting? Did you try another headset and the hand microphone? How about trying any other headset jacks in the aircraft? These hints might seem like common sense, and they are, but sometimes we neglect to think about them when experiencing difficulties.

Next, does the problem only exist while monitoring certain frequencies? If the answer is yes, then a channeling problem exists. This is likely an aircraft problem, although some channeling problems will occur within the radio depending on the model. Remember to record the frequencies that are causing the problems, then tell the avionics techs and they will know where to begin!

You can even make an intelligent guess with a faulty GPS receiver. Just monitor the satellite status page to see if the unit is acquiring any satellites.

Lastly, become experienced and knowledgeable about your avionics equipment! This statement should not be understated. Many of today’s avionics are complex and loaded with features, which can create a learning curve for some pilots not 100% familiar with their equipment. This may lead the pilot into thinking that there is an equipment problem. Take some time and review the pilot’s equipment operating guides and paperwork. This may save you the expense and embarrassment of an unnecessary trip to the shop while making you a better pilot!