Due to the fact that approximately 80% of all aircraft accidents are attributed to human factors, the issue has been widely discussed among aviation professionals for many years now. Up to 15% of these accidents are blamed on the faults of the aircraft mechanics or the engineering staff and fatigue remains one of the main issues on list of the human factors that often result in poor performance on behalf of aviation technicians. Pilots are strictly regulated and receive detailed instructions on how to deal with all human factors which might influence flight safety, but what about aviation maintenance personnel?
‘Aircraft maintenance specialists are often expected to cover long shifts most of which unavoidably involve working during unsocial hours, and plenty of overtime. In many cases aircraft technicians are required to be on call 24 hours a day. When an AOG situation appears, they cannot leave the aircraft before the malfunction is fixed. While pilots may occasionally get the chance to restore their strength during lengthy flights, fatigue has always been a particularly disturbing issue for the technical staff, since they are constantly under pressure to get the aircraft back into service ASAP,’ said the Deputy Head of FL Technics Training Dainius Sakalauskas.
The increasing number of operations dramatically stretches the need for more human resources. In order to maintain the sufficiently high quality of the provided services, maintenance personnel are forced to work longer hours. This might actually tempt them to omit checklists and opt for shortcuts in order to hasten the completion of the tasks and such prospects are highly worrisome. As the workforce increasingly moves toward shift work and alternative work arrangements, the risk of potential fatigue-related faults also rises.
Successful management of any team involves lots of training and all technical staff must be fully aware of the safety hazards caused by fatigue as well as the most effective ways of coping with it. Fortunately, various training solutions have been already developed to achieve this. The EASA Part 145 (2003) maintenance guidance indicates fatigue as one of the most topical issues that should be covered during the human factor training for all the employees of Part145 Maintenance Organizations. EASA Part 66 regulations also specify that fatigue awareness should be covered in the initial maintenance personnel training.
‘Few would argue that proper training as concerns all human factors, fatigue risk management and safety management systems is a must in the aviation industry. Most of the programs are designed to enable all aircraft technicians and engineers to handle any fatigue-related risks. With the help of various training courses both technical and managerial staff is provided with the knowledge about all possible dangers and potential consequences of fatigue, as well as about the ways of overcoming the key risk factors. The key is to educate employees and supervisors who can bring positive changes to their workplace in order to minimize any risks. Avoiding fatigue in the workplace is something that any maintenance company should pay paramount attention to’ commented D.Sakalauskas.