Human Factors in 
Aircraft Maintenance

"The Dirty Dozen"

THE DIRTY DOZEN OF HUMAN FACTORS

Lack of Communication

It means that people in the workplace cannot send or receive information. It must be emphasized that a lack of information, could cause a wrong choice, due to misunderstanding.

This is why it is essential for workers to improve their communication process, expressing the most important information at the beginning and also at the end of the speech, to emphasize the main object of the indication received. Besides, it is highly recommended to use checklists, i.e., lists, rich in information, that if executed in sequence and order, do not allow the employee to get confused or to perform operations that are not indicated in them.

Lack of Teamwork

Aircraft maintenance includes specialized personnel with different duties, who share a common goal, that of keeping the aircraft airworthy. Each operator is therefore an integral part of a complex organism that moves together, making teamwork essential.

It's indispensable that everyone on the team understands and agrees so that they can work together in a way that builds trust.

Norms

It is essential to analyze the cultural context of the workplace, as it can facilitate bad habits as well as more or less safe procedures. In a company, it is normal to find that some habits rooted in time, are repeated even by newly hired workers, even though they have not been written in any standard. These “unwritten rules” should be discouraged and avoided by strictly following official regulations, to ensure the highest level of safety.

Lack of Assertiveness

Any critical decision must be made unanimously. A colleague who does not allow others to express their concerns about the selected measure is dangerous, as he or she may direct the choice, without everyone being consulted, increasing the possibility that a mistake will be made.

Team members must be listened to calmly and rationally, inviting each interlocutor to provide feedback on the information received. Any criticism should always be constructive and never punitive.

Complacency

An operator with a lot of experience in a given aeronautical field is likely to perform the same task for many years in a row. The repetitiveness of his work makes him overconfident in his abilities, and he tends to underestimate the importance of the task he is carrying out, sometimes even performing it superficially.

To avoid performing all tasks mechanically, the worker must be aware of the importance of the actions he takes and of the possible consequences. It is therefore important to use checklists to reduce the possibility of error.

Fatigue

Fatigue is a physiological reaction to a prolonged state of physical or mental stress, which can occur either after a long period of work or after a short period of intense work.

Each operator must always recognize the first symptoms of fatigue in himself and others, to be able to intervene immediately. For this reason, if he feels fatigued, he should call someone to check the operation he is doing, so that can have verification of the work done.

Stress

Stress is a physical, chemical, and emotional state capable of exerting damage on the organism, with its prolonged action. It is therefore essential to act against stress before it negatively affects the work done.

To avoid mistakes, then, it is useful to face problems with an approach that is always rational and never emotional, to take a break when it is needed, and finally, if the worker is unable to get rid of stress, he should get help from specialized personnel by going to the appropriate centers.


Lack of Knowledge

A lack of knowledge about the topics you are working on can lead workers to misinterpret certain situations and make unsafe decisions. Checklists and regulations should always be followed to the letter.

Lack of Resources

It is always needed to have as much support as required. In the case of aircraft maintenance, the parts required must be ordered before they are required, to have them on hand when they need to be fitted.

Lack of Awareness

Watching over the work of other colleagues and vice versa, with a collaborative feeling, indicates a greater awareness of the work environment, and this increases the possibility that the final product will be of high quality.

Distraction

Distraction is due to all the possible external stimuli that take attention away from the operator while he is performing his task.

To avoid distractions and get back to concentrating on the job, it is recommended to use checklists and, if interrupted during the task, it is suggested to go back three steps from where the worker left off, to refocus again without incurring any forgetfulness.

Pressure

Regardless of any deadline, it is always important to put safety first. If the employee realizes that the deadline is approaching, he doesn’t have to rush the process, but rather seek help from other colleagues. If any problems mean the deadline cannot be met, instead of speeding up the process, let the firm know that the deadline will not be met.


"UPON MY HONOR I swear that the rights and privileges conferred to me as a licensed aviation engineer will be held in the highest regard. I would never put others in risk that I wouldn't take on for myself or for those dearest to us, since I'm perfectly aware that their safety and wellbeing depend on my skill and judgment."
Rachel McKay