Human conditions such as complacency, fatigue, and stress are crucial in aviation maintenance because these factors contribute or directly cause accidents in the aviation industry. Approximately 80% of aircraft maintenance errors result from human factors. When not detected in time, human conditions can cause worker injury, events, wasted time and accidents (Aircraft, 2009). The phrase “human factors” became widespread as the profitable aviation industry comprehended that most aviation accidents and incidents result from human error and not mechanical failure (Aircraft, 2009). According to many history books, the study of human factors is not new as official research dates as early as the late 19th Century that was done to improve factory output.
Human factors involve assembling data on the abilities and limitations of humans including other features and translating it to machines, tools, systems, environment, jobs and tasks to result in efficient, comfortable and safe man-made use (Aircraft, 2009). Human factors in the aviation industry are purposed to provide a better understanding of how people can most efficiently yet safely integrate with technology. This knowledge appears in designs, policies, and training to improve human performance. The list of human factors that are capable of affecting work performance and aviation maintenance is broad. They include a full range of challenges which, influence people in different ways as people differ in their strengths, capabilities, weaknesses and limitations (Aircraft, 2009). Unfortunately, the vast amount of human limitations that go unaccounted for in aviation maintenance can result in technical errors and injuries. Some human factors are more severe than others, but when three or more elements are combined, they create a problem which often leads to an incident or accident.
Applying the study of human factors is complex because it is unfixable with just one simple answer that will change how people are affected by different situations and conditions. By understanding each of these disciplines and applying them effectively to human behavior or different situations, potential human factors are correctly recognized and addressed before developing into a chain of problems (Aircraft, 2009). An action with unintended consequences is called human error. When aviation maintenance pairs with human error, its implications become extremely troublesome (Aircraft, 2009). Risk assessments, training, and safety inspections should not only be keen on attempting to avoid mistakes but instead, make them easily visible and identifiable before they lead to any damage.
There are twelve factors in the aviation industry known as the “Dirty Dozen” that are a means of discussing the human error in maintenance (Aircraft, 2009). The dirty dozen includes poor communication which, is a human factor that can result in improper and defective aircraft maintenance. It is crucial that accurate and full information exchange takes place without omitting any step. Poor communication could lead to maintenance error and aircraft accidents (Aircraft, 2009). Complacency is another of the dirty dozen that typically develops over time. False assumptions by a technician who has gained knowledge and experience over time may lead to a fault not being detected and corrected which, could cause a fatal accident. When performing aircraft maintenance, absence of familiarity can result in faulty aircraft repair which can lead to a disaster (Aircraft, 2009). All repairing measures must be performed to the values stated in standard commands. Destructions are human factors that occur while performing maintenance could disrupt the process.
According to research, 15% of aircraft maintenance errors are caused by distractions. Fatigue, pressure, and stress are significant human factors that contribute to maintenance errors. Fatigue reduces one’s alertness and their ability to focus on the task at hand. Fatigue and stress can be avoided by getting enough rest, exercise and eating a healthy diet (Aircraft, 2009). Lack of awareness and lack of resources are human factors that also contribute to the faulty maintenance of aircraft. Choosing low-quality products for aircraft maintenance due to limited resources or lack of awareness can lead to fatal accidents. Lack of assertiveness is a human factor where one is unable to express their feelings and opinions in a productive manner (Aircraft, 2009). Assertiveness is crucial during aviation repairs as it could end up saving people’s lives.
Despite rapid gains in aviation technology, man has the basic duty to warrant achievement and protection in the air travel industry. They should dedicate themselves to being continually knowledgeable, dedicated, flexible and efficient while applying sound judgment. The air transport sector continuously invests heavily in employee training, new equipment, and systems that have long-term impacts (Aircraft, 2009). The aviation industry should employ more human factor specialists, regularly study the interface between aircraft and human performance and apply the latest human factors knowledge to improve flight safety.
- Aircraft. (2009). Handbook of Aviation Human Factors, Second Edition, 2, III-1-III-1. Doi :10.1201/b10401-16