Maintenance Human Factors in Aviation: The Dirty Dozen

student taking an aviation maintenance technology course | Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology
August 5, 2020
Maintenance Human Factors in Aviation: The Dirty Dozen

Aviation maintenance requires considerable precision and attention to detail. Nonetheless, human errors are inevitable, and certain circumstances make them especially likely. Some maintenance human factors in aviation that can lead to errors are so common that they’re regularly included in aviation maintenance technology training courses. According to the FAA, about 80% of maintenance errors involve human factors that can waste time, cause injuries, or even contribute to accidents. Narrowed down to 12 items, this list is often called the “Dirty Dozen.”


1. Lack of Communication


This item tops the Dirty Dozen because it’s so critical. Sometimes verbal directions aren’t conveyed properly, are incomplete, or are misinterpreted by the recipient.


2. Complacency


When people perform the same tasks routinely, they may become over-confident, thinking the work is too easy. Consequently, they become less vigilant about checking for mistakes.


3. Lack of Knowledge


Not having the necessary training or ability to inspect and maintain aircraft will surely lead to errors. Having the proper knowledge is critical to performing the proper tasks.


4. Distractions


Distractions occur when anything other than the task at hand vies for your attention. Distractions are included in the Dirty Dozen because they make you more likely to forget things and lose track of your workflow.


5. Lack of Teamwork


When team members aren’t on the same page about shared goals or don’t respect and trust each other, they will be hindered in getting the job done.


6. Fatigue


Among the most prevalent maintenance human factors is fatigue. When employees are exhausted — mentally or physically —their work performance suffers.


7. Lack of Resources


Mistakes are virtually guaranteed if you’re short-staffed or don’t have the time, parts, or equipment you need to successfully complete your work.


8. Pressure


Whether the pressure is real or perceived, the implications are the same. When people feel as though they’re always expected to perform at an extraordinarily high level, they’re more likely to make errors.


9. Lack of Assertiveness


Team members sometimes fail to speak up or document their concerns when they see something has been done incorrectly or instructions aren’t clear.


10. Stress


Whether it’s caused by workplace issues or personal struggles, stress can have a negative impact on job performance.


11. Lack of Awareness


Failure to assess a situation and understand what should be done can lead to costly mistakes.


12. Norms


Playing by the expected but unwritten rules of workplace culture sometimes contributes to poor attitudes and habits, causing errors and mistakes.


Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology offers aviation maintenance technology and Airframe & Powerplant training programs. Among other topics, courses cover maintenance human factors, appropriate safety protocols, and the dirty dozen aviation human factors. Understanding these factors and catching errors early can lead to cost savings and more time in the air for planes. Contact us for more information, or apply online.

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