Handbook of Aviation Human Factors

By Daniel J. Garland; John A. Wise et al. | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Human Factors in Aviation Maintenance

Colin G. Drury State University of New York at Buffalo


Before human factors techniques can be applied appropriately in any system, the system itself must be well understood by the human factors engineers. The following description of aviation maintenance and inspection emphasizes the philosophy behind the system design, and the points where there is potential for operator error.

An aircraft structure is designed to be used indefinitely provided that any defects arising over time are repaired correctly. Most structural components do not have a design life, but rely on periodic inspection and repair for their integrity. There are standard systems for ensuring structural safety (e.g., Goranson & Miller, 1989), but the one that most concerns us is that which uses engineering knowledge of defect types and their time histories to specify appropriate inspection intervals. The primary defects are cracks and corrosion (which can interact destructively at times), arising respectively from repeated stretching of the structure from air or pressure loads, and from weathering or harmful chemicals. Known growth rates of both defect types allow the analyst to choose intervals for inspection at which the defects will be both visible and safe. Typically, more than one such inspection is called for between the visibility level and the safety level to ensure some redundancy in the inspection process. As the inspection system is a human/machine system, continuing airworthiness has thus been redefined by the design process from a mechanical engineering problem to a human factors one. Inspection, like maintenance in general, is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in the United Kingdom, and equivalent bodies in other countries. However, enforcement can only be of following procedures (e.g., hours of training and record keeping to show that tasks have been completed), not of the effectiveness of each inspector. Inspection is also a complex sociotechnical system ( Taylor, 1990), and as such, can be expected to exert stresses on the inspectors and on other organizational players ( Drury, 1985).

Maintenance and inspection are scheduled on a regular basis for each aircraft, with the schedule eventually being translated into a set of workcards for the aircraft when it arrives at the maintenance site. Equipment that impedes access is removed (e.g. seats, galleys).


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Handbook of Aviation Human Factors
Table of contents

Table of contents



Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 698

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?