Last year, Swiss International Air Lines engineer Guido Zurflueh in Zurich had a problem.
Someone had reported a dropped spoon in the cockpit on a recent flight, and it was feared that it was lodged behind the controls. It's the type of thing that seems minor, but could be a big deal. Airlines like Swiss take no chances.
"When we got to the airplane the cleaning crew was already on board," Zurflueh told his airline's blog. While we were searching for the silver spoon, passengers began boarding for the next flight. We looked all over the cockpit for that spoon and opened up everything we could from the outside.”
The flight was delayed as Zurflueh's crew kept looking. But they could not find the spoon. So they decided to take the airplane out of service. "The instruments and cables in the cockpit are highly sensitive," Zurflueh told the Swiss blog. "Safety remains top priority."
It turns out that Swiss never found the spoon. One possible scenario? A crew might have removed it before maintenance jumped on board. But no one could assume that until the entire cockpit was taken apart.
I borrow this story from Swiss to describe one duty, albeit a rare one, that line maintenance provides at a major airline.
Swiss put together a nifty YouTube video in December taking viewers on a day in the life for one line maintenance technician in Zurich. One interesting moment takes place at the three-minute mark when he descends a trap door in the first class galley and inspects an A330's avionics compartment. Did you know it was there?
If you don't mind subtitles, I recommend you watch the video.