Aircraft Maintenance Technology

APR-MAY 2018

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AIRLINE IT'S A MATTER OF COMMUNICATION Accidents can occur because pilots and mechanics don't effectively communicate By Tahlia Fisher "IT IS THE TEAM, NOT THE AIRCRAFT OR THE INDIVIDUAL pilot, that is at the root of most accidents and incidents." * Despite this quote now being some 25 years old, the question might still be asked how well we, as an industry, are providing the whole 'team' with the skills necessary to operate efficiently together in the dynamic, fast-paced world that is aviation. We might also ask who exactly we are including in the team. Pilots and flight attendants have traditionally reaped the benefits of learning how to effectively communicate together but how many others miss out? In many cases, aircraft mechanics are a prime example of such an oversight. COMMUNICATION ACROSS PROFESSIONAL BOUNDARIES While communication is a key component of their work, it is interesting to note that current maintenance human factors training tends to focus on communication between maintenance personnel. This is reasonable given the negative repercussions which can result from poor coordination at shift handover. The relative infancy of maintenance human factors programmes, compared to those developed for flight crews, also means that less consideration has been given to the unique work environments between, say, the hangar and line maintenance, leading to a lack of tailored training for the different maintenance specialties. However, those mechanics required to interact with pilots as part of their work are essentially communicating across a professional boundary. As demonstrated by several well-known accidents where cabin crew have experienced difficulty communicating with pilots, the ability for people to interact effectively with those of different professions can present challenges. This is well known within the medical arena also where surgeons, anaesthetists, and nurses can struggle with communication in the operating theatre. Regarding the pilot-maintenance interface, this concept has been recognised, with the UK Civil Aviation Authority** stating: "Most line [aircraft maintenance technicians] appear to have a good understanding of how human factors affect them in their everyday work. Where they have less understanding is with regard to what the pilot is thinking. The reverse is also true; pilots currently appear to have a poor understanding of the [maintainer's] perspective." DIFFERING PERCEPTIONS While there are many jokes about communication between pilots and aircraft mechanics, the way in which the two parties inter- 20 APRIL/MAY 2018 AIRCRAFT MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY

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