The FAA’s Human Factors Resources

by Joy Finnegan, Editor in Chief

We try to include information about human factors as it relates to the aviation maintenance community in the magazine every year because it is so important to safety in our field. We’ve tried to look beyond the horizon to see what is coming next because the root of so many accidents is human factors-related. Let me add quickly that relatively few accidents are maintenance-related.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t have improvements to make. Understanding that is key to improving. Managing the risks inherent to all work involving humans is acknowledged as crucial to improving our excellent safety record. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) deserves credit for focusing on this and for providing some tremendous resources available on their website. They have a resource section specifically for aviation maintenance organizations and it includes research, videos, training, tools and guides for establishing safety assessments.

In the library you will find archived documents associated specifically with maintenance human factors including maintenance research program annual reports, NTSB maintenance accident reports, projects, journal articles, conference reports and presentations, human factors analysis and classification system training. One interesting tidbit I found there was about the Heinrich Ratio, a statistic proffered by H. W. Heinrich et. al. in their treatise “Accident Prevention: A Safety Management Approach.” This ratio states that for every major accident, there are 10 less serious accidents, 30 incidents and 600 hazardous acts.

So, even though we are quick to point out that maintenance is low on the totem pole of causal relations, even one accident related to maintenance opens Pandora’s box of hazardous acts. It’s something anyone can relate to – If you have ever thought: “I got away with cutting a corner that time…,” then you are contributing to the overall ratio.

The website also has several great resources for fatigue risk management. This includes a fatigue risk assessment tool developed by Pulsar Informatics that can help determine whether or not you are fatigued enough to be at risk of making errors. You will also find access to the FAA’s Aviation Maintenance Human Factors Newsletter.

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