I was on a flight recently (AA 705) and a maintenance worker used a forklift to go on top of the plane shortly before the captain announced that we were going to have to wait at the gate for an extra 25 minutes while they filled a hole with putty near the tail of the plane. The aircraft was an A321.

Can anyone tell me what was wrong with the plane? The pilot said it was a common problem and part of routine maintenance. I am wondering if this is a maintenance issue that an A321 expert would immediately recognize as part of routine maintenance or a problem common to these aircraft.

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    $\begingroup$ Airplanes are regularly delayed for minor maintenance issues, often temporary fixes that are addressed later. These are generally not publicly reported. Without more info or inside knowledge we can't really say for sure what the issue was here. $\endgroup$ – fooot Dec 19 '16 at 18:41
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to reopen. Just because you cannot answer this apart from mere opinion does not mean that there is no one out there that can. There is very possibly a common issue that requires application of putty on the upper empennage of the A320 family of aircraft. If there isn't, then no harm done, this question remains without an answer. $\endgroup$ – J Walters Dec 19 '16 at 21:38
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    $\begingroup$ @JonathanWalters , The pilot did say it was a common problem and part of routine maintenance which is why I asked our plane experts to see exactly how common it really was! $\endgroup$ – dalearn Dec 20 '16 at 13:22
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    $\begingroup$ This question could probably be answered reasonably well by any A&P. (S)He could tell us in what scenarios the application of putty would be an acceptable fix, how short- (or long-) term that fix would be, and what might require a puttying on the backside of an A321. (Maybe it was a very new A321 and had diaper rash... :) Unfortunately, I don't think we have any A&Ps hanging around here now, but that doesn't mean we won't in the future. $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Dec 20 '16 at 19:01
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    $\begingroup$ We have an A&P in the house! Sorry, @JonathanWalters, I'm pretty sure I knew that but totally forgot. Do you have any general insights into slathering putty on the rear of a plane? It might be the best we can get... (Frankly, I've got an image of spackling in my head that just won't go away - and that doesn't instill confidence. The fact that OP is still here to ask the question indicates that spackling isn't what was used, but still...) $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Dec 20 '16 at 19:20

While maintenance records exist at the airline, they're not something that can be accessed by the general public over the internet. And without those records, it would be guessing to answer what exactly "filled a hole with putty near the tail of the plane" was addressing.

It sounds like the delay might have been to allow the putty to cure, but again, without knowing the exact details, that's as much a guess as anything.

If you know somebody who works in the maintenance department at AA, they might be able to get the info, but again that's not the sort of thing that airlines like being released routinely.

This question may well be closed as being essentially unanswerable, and that's probably the right "answer" in this case. Without far more specific knowledge, it's not something one can determine from the facts given, even with the World Wide Web available for further research.

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    $\begingroup$ "If you know somebody who works in the maintenance department at AA, they might be able to get the info" – But they'll probably not be allowed to tell you anyway. $\endgroup$ – Jörg W Mittag Dec 20 '16 at 10:38

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