Maintenance is a crucial aspect of aircraft operations, ensuring that such vehicles remain airworthy and safe to operate over time. Countless systems and assemblies are maintained on a regular basis, including the engine(s), landing gear, fuel systems, and more. Throughout the spectrum of maintenance operations, it is paramount that inspections and repairs are conducted correctly, lest one causes a hazard or issue through mistakes. When these mistakes are caused by a human, they are known as human factors for maintenance. Ranging from missassembly to misidentified components, human factors for maintenance are something that need to be addressed and prevented within any facility.
From the instant that the aircraft is brought into a facility for maintenance, human factors come about. To prevent the potential disasters associated with human error, it is important that personnel are aware of the most common human factors and are trained properly on how to avoid them. One of the most common causes of human factor maintenance issues is a lack of communication. Airports are often hubs of noise, and it can be difficult for the aircrew, maintenance crew, and others to effectively communicate. As such, it is important that solutions are put in place to enhance verbal communication so that everyone is always on the same page.
Complacency is another issue, and it is caused when employees and employers become more relaxed about safety concerns. For example, auxiliary power units (APUs) are often used for powering the aircraft while it is on the ground, and a constantly running apparatus can create hazards. Additionally, the engine is a major source of danger as a result of exhaust gasses, turbine blades, and more.
Even if a worker is able to maintain communication and focus, maintenance endeavors will fail if they are not trained properly. Technicians will always need to maintain a library of knowledge as they conduct inspections and repairs of aircraft, ensuring that they do not mis-assemble items, gloss over issues, or make other such mistakes.
As focus is paramount for employee safety and quality of work, employers should ensure that their workers are not facing major distractions, fatigue, stress, or pressure during their tasks. Anything that detracts from a maintenance worker’s focus can spell disaster, and this loss of focus can stem from various sources. As a result, employers should regularly check in with employees to ensure that they are well capable.
Beyond such examples, there are many other reasons that human maintenance errors occur. If a facility lacks resources or there is no teamwork, personnel will have a hard time completing a quality job. Employees are the most valuable asset of a company, and enacting proper training and support can allow for leadership to identify human factors and how to solve them. While norms are often pervasive, they should never be allowed to deter efficiency and employee safety. While human factors are not always completely solvable, having measures to identify and combat them early is the best practice to mitigate issues.
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