At Risk: Aircraft Maintenance Safety Compliance
An article published in the October issue of AeroSafety World raises serious concerns about safety compliance among aircraft maintenance technicians and their managers. The report is not focused on worker safety or OSHA standards; the report is about compliance with maintenance procedures to ensure aircraft safety.
The report is based on a Baines Simmons employee safety culture survey that canvassed 2,000 maintenance professionals in union and non-union aircraft maintenance shops in North and South America over a period of three years (2007-2010). The statistics about safety attitudes and behaviors are sobering. Among the findings:
- 16 % of the managers agreed with the statement, “Due to limited time or resources, there have been times when I signed off for work that was not completed”.
- More than 80% of the maintenance personnel surveyed said that it is necessary and actually acceptable to sacrifice safety and compliance to complete their jobs on time.
- 53% of AMTs disagreed with the statement, “Before I start a job I am always given the necessary information.”
These and similar results in the report indicate that it’s not uncommon for technicians and their managers to ignore procedures, to sign off on work that was not completed, and to perform maintenance without the proper information. This article stresses the importance of cultivating/instilling Safety Management Systems (SMS) into the maintenance process; the concern being that when technicians believe management values productivity over safety, they tend to become lax in their work habits, and stop raising safety and compliance concerns.
Many business consultants would agree that instilling an effective safety management culture can be a challenge. So besides providing more safety lectures what else can help AMTs improve safety and compliance? Technology. Though technology will not change the underlying culture of a workplace, it does make it easier for staff to adopt best practices and ensure compliance.
For example, the Enigma InService Job Card Generator combines data from a maintenance planning system with service and parts information to produce job cards (task cards) on-the-fly. Enigma combines resource, tool and equipment data with the latest maintenance manuals and parts catalogs giving technicians a complete and up-to-date set of service information, for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance. This eliminates the time-consuming process of collecting necessary maintenance information, allowing productivity and compliance to go hand-in-hand.
With regard to safety and compliance, Enigma job cards can digitally record the details of service activity and inspections, with relevant information routed back into the maintenance planning system for compliance, audit and management purposes.
When 53% of technicians and 37% of managers believe that technicians lack critical maintenance information, can there be any question that airlines and MRO shops need to improve their safety management culture? Safety and compliance is about more than management dashboards and tracking systems, it’s about improving the underlying processes of maintenance.