Aircraft Maintenance Technology

APR-MAY 2018

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act is not always so humorous. In 2015, for example, a physical altercation took place on an Air India flight deck between the aircraft's captain and a maintenance technician over whether a defect had been rectified correctly***. However, despite plenty of anecdotal evidence that communication between pilots and mechanics is not always particularly effective, research to identify why this might be the case has, to date, been limited. Given that the logbook is the primary means by which they interface, most formal studies have focused on this medium and the frustrations pilots and mechanics experience using written communication. Data out of Australia and the United States, for example, has previously identified that both pilots and mechanics experience very different perceptions of each other's ability to communicate appropriately. A common finding with regard to the logbook is that each profession perceives that the other has poor write-ups/sign-offs in relation to the amount and detail of information which is provided about defects. Perhaps unsurprisingly, however, each group thinks their own logbook communication is satisfactory and fit for the purpose, illustrating a disparity between the actual information needs of pilots and mechanics. BEYOND THE LOGBOOK But are communication problems between pilots and mechanics driven by deeper issues? In more recent research****, findings from a series of focus groups held at an Australasian airline highlight some of the specific challenges faced by pilots and mechanics when they attempt to communicate. Along with pilots, mechanics who worked in the line maintenance environment were invited to discuss the factors they identified as causing difficulties across the flight-maintenance interface. Both professions raised similar concerns, indicating that despite having perceived differences, the issues they faced were actually common to both employee groups. Communication difficulties were seen to stem from organisational factors such as the tempo of airline operations, lack of a face-to-face handover at the aircraft (i.e., solely relying on the logbook) and an absence of any opportunity to engage in joint-communication training or classroom activities. Interestingly, this lack of physical contact between the two groups appears to have broader implications than just the immediate difficulties associated with use of the logbook. Less face-to-face interaction between the two groups also leads to an increase in perceived differences with respect to each profession's underlying motives when dispatching an aircraft. This is despite the fact that both share an overarching goal of flight safety. Left unchecked, such misperceptions can affect fundamental aspects of the pilot-mechanic relationship, including trust in each other. VERBAL COMMUNICATION DIFFICULTIES In addition to the misperceptions which can influence their interactions, the times where pilots and mechanics do speak with each other in person can also become problematic. Mechanics, for example, raised concerns that despite feeling confident in their mechanical ability, they sometimes found it difficult to verbalise technical information in a way that would appear sound to a pilot, particularly in situations where they were outnumbered on the flight deck. Conversely, some pilots were critical of the way mechanics would sometimes speak to them in an undermining fashion, discouraging them from asking what might be considered "silly" questions or reporting any minor "misdemeanours". One pilot raised the point that, after years spent together in the classroom practicing effective communication techniques, the relationship THE VERSATILE HARLAN APV Harlan Trans-Con Model HTSBAPV Many options available: • Beacons • Hitches • Suspension-style seats • +1-800-255-4262 • As a manufacturer of our own parts and components, we have the ability to customize parts as well as support parts beyond standard expected part life in the industry. 21

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