Human Factors in Hangar Maintenance

Can humanizing hangar design promote safer and better practices?

hangar251Development, or redevelopment of hangars and workshops is one of those necessary evils where aircraft maintenance is concerned. During the 30-plus year life of large maintenance facilities, those involved with the specification and ultimately implementation of any hangar or workshop based solution needs to get it right on so many levels. Topping the list is long-term capability planning for the facility. However, when speaking to a number of commentators, a lack of balance in terms of safety protection against production still seems apparent.

Hangar or workshop design, particularly for those aircraft/component MROs that work through the night is “very much neglected.” History has often proven in this regard that if anything does go wrong, the origins of the incident, more often than not, start during the night-shift and in a hangar. Good examples include the BAC 1-11 incident and the engine cowling latches episode, earlier this year. A great number of these incidents can be ironed out through better aircraft and component design, and to a greater extent through the introduction of human factors influenced training.

However, there is a limit to just how much can be designed into an aircraft or a maintenance procedure. If human factors issues are to be further resolved, maintainers and operators must now consider other areas of aviation infrastructure with regard to procedural design as well as concentrating on the actual facility itself.

When it comes to the way we operate and maintain aircraft, good ergonomic design, well thought-out maintenance practices and procedures are already in place, and have had very positive influences on aviation over the years. We have even further studied the effects of fatigue, and have installed effective policies in that regard. Yet, there is little research regarding hangar/workshop development or re-development that considers maintenance human factors as a part of the design specification. Surely, a well thought out hangar/workshop specification, would make all of our lives easier when it comes to combating some, if not all of the “Dirty Dozen”? Not only that a well laid out hangar solution must also promote best maintenance practice, and contribute to the overall safety objective of aviation.

Convenient layout can help reduce the rate of worker fatigue.

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