D Check: Stripping back to start over

In the commercial and civil aviation industry, aircrafts undergo periodic inspections known as checks. I had previously only heard of A, B and C checks and only came to know about D checks recently.

A and B checks are light checks which can be performed over a period of 10 hours to 3 days every 6 months. The C and D checks are considerably more comprehensive.

C checks are performed every two years and a large number of the aircraft’s components are inspected. This is usually a two-week exercise.

What I had never heard of was the D check or Heavy Maintenance Visit (HMV). This is a check that takes place approximately every six years and literally involves taking the whole aircraft apart (newer aircraft like the Boeing B787 only needs a D check every 12 years). Seats and carpets are removed and paint is stripped off to examine the fuselage’s metal skin. Engines are taken down and components are examined, repaired, replaced or reinstalled. It is a painstaking exercise that can take 50,000 man-hours and two months to complete. It is an expensive exercise and can cost millions of dollars to perform. But aircrafts are like new at the end of this maintenance.

These checks will happen only if it is commercially viable to do so. If a particular type of aircraft is being phased out, the plane could be scrapped when the next D check becomes due. On average, a commercial aircraft undergoes three D checks in its lifetime before being sent to the scrap yard.

So, what’s the point of this uninteresting topic on aircraft maintenance?

A few weeks ago I was doing a pretty major self-evaluation, trying to figure out what type of projects I was doing well with and what I was failing to sell. What new business prospects there were on the market that I could interest myself in. What routines were getting in my way and what new habits I needed to pick up.

A few days later I stumbled across this article on aircraft D checks. My self-evaluation and the D check just seemed so familiar.

Commercially Viable?

Like an aircraft, the question of ‘commercial viability’ came in. According to Malawi life expectancy figures, I have a good two decades of life ahead of me. I love learning new things and will occasionally take calculated risks. If I can say it myself, I am commercially viable.

And the cost? For that amount of time I have ahead of me, the cost and effort will definitely be worth it.

Sometimes we unwittingly throw banana peels in our own paths. We are guided by fear and familiarity. We stagnate in our comfort zones and stay fixated on familiar paths even when they no longer provide personal fulfilment. But because we can navigate them with our eyes closed, we feel very safe and secure in them.

But a personal ‘heavy maintenance visit’ is not always about making drastic career or personal changes. It can simply be about identifying and working on strengths you stopped using or don’t use. Or about changing unproductive routines and using different patterns to get work done. It could be about redefining your purpose in life, having clarity about what you stand for or setting new goals.

Make the leap

On the other hand, this could also be about taking a completely different direction in life because you are tired of scraping from the bottom of the barrel. You are tired of being average because your job or career is as mediocre as it can get. Investing in learning a new skill or taking on a career change could be just what you need. Making that decision to face new exciting but unknown challenges. Hey, if you are commercially viable then why not!

A Twyla Tharp quote goes “If you only do what you know and do it very, very well, chances are that you won’t fail. You’ll just stagnate, and your work will get less and less interesting, and that’s failure by erosion.”

So give yourself permission. Then it will all start!

I stripped my paint and took apart components a few weeks ago. I have changed some routines with some good results so far. Over the next few days, I will be putting the pieces back together. And I might just decide to put my pieces back together a little differently.

Hello to new projects and experiences that excite and make a difference!

Cover image: Reflecting on the year gone by while standing in the lake of stars

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Austin Madinga's Life Unbound