Premium on Safety - Issue 41, 2021 - 1

Best Practices: Waking Up Your Flight Department
Quiz: Upgrade Time!
Lessons Learned: Thinking Machines
ASI Message: An Impossible Turn?
Reality Check: The Runway Behind You
Focus Point: Recruiting Aerospace's Next Generation
USAIG/Aviation Performance Solutions Renew Performance Vector Alliance
Posters Lift Safety Reminders to Top-Of-Mind
The Sweet Tension Between Operations and Maintenance
Casual rivalries tend to form along task-oriented lines inside
organizations. Maybe it's human nature. Kitchen vs. wait staff, O-line
vs. D-line, production vs. sales, night shift vs. day shift: examples
are plentiful. The impacts of these informal cliques vary. They can
generate good-natured competition that stokes teamwork or create
barriers to open communication. Are the sub-groups that have
evolved in your flight operation contributing positively or holding
you back? An aviation relationship with significant implications to
safety and overall success will always be the one between operators
and maintainers.
There are built-in opportunities for friction. Walking an imaginary
mile in an aviation mechanic's shoes, it's not hard to see it might
feel like operators take aircraft made airworthy by a lot of hard
work and bring them back abused. Sometimes there's a collection
of vaguely documented gripes that require an endless cycle of more
work. On the other side, a blame game aimed at the maintainers
can spin up among dispatchers or pilots if a trip gets dropped
or delayed because an aircraft isn't ready, or if a pesky aircraft
discrepancy defies troubleshooting and repeats on subsequent
flights. In the big picture, it's clear operators and maintainers must
depend on each other to achieve and sustain success. But we don't
always live in the big picture.
Most corporate and charter flying outfits have fewer maintenance
technicians than operational personnel. That may be a sensible
arrangement based on job demands, but it also affects the
cultural center of gravity. Having two or more times the number
of operators than maintenance personnel can tilt the focus and
challenge maintenance issues to gain their due equity, day-today.
It's a good place to look when doing a self-assessment of
your operations-maintenance synergy. The imbalance-in-numbers
dilemma is generally solved by the right people in both groups
adapting their communications styles and acting with purpose to
ensure all concerns get due attention and priorities stay in balance.
But left unaddressed it can trigger frustration, apathy and a cultural
drift that forms a latent safety threat in your operation.
Keeping the operations-maintenance relationship healthy centers
on keeping the big picture of mutual dependency center stage. It's
all too easy for the two sides to fall into managing their challenges
independently. It's worth resisting that because it can lead to
maintenance and operational demands conflicting and raising stress
rather than being meshed purposefully to best meet all competing
requirements. Have digital logbooks replaced in-person discussions
between pilots and technicians after trips? Returning at all hours
and having everyone on hybrid schedules makes that an attractive
solution with many benefits. But those logs are one-way by design.
Is transparent communication still happening to the extent needed,
or are augmenting strategies needed? Most pilots will eagerly invest
in helping track and fix issues on the aircraft they fly. They will
heighten attention to aircraft systems during flight and report their
observations in detail to maintenance-if they understand what's
needed. There's tremendous benefit to overall efficiency and safety
from each side having an up-to-date understanding about what's
driving and challenging the other.
This may seem like something you can fix once and be done. But
like eating right, exercising regularly, obeying the speed limit, and
changing the oil; repeated encouragement is needed. A triedand-true
safety approach is to pair consistent reminders with
processes designed to close pathways to error. How can that apply
here? Consider instituting a regular, recurring meeting between
operations and maintenance staff. Maybe it's a half hour over coffee
done weekly. The intent is to have a recurring forum in which the
dynamic, near-term operations and maintenance priorities are
reviewed and merged. Over time, this becomes the place where
sticking points in the schedule are spotted and resolved, favors
get asked, and strategies to 'win the week ahead' get mapped
out together. If you already do this, you likely know it can be
transformational to your safety and quality management. If you
don't, consider giving it a try.
Stay well, fly smart and fly safe.
Paul Ratté
Director of Aviation Safety
Programs, USAIG

Premium on Safety - Issue 41, 2021

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Premium on Safety - Issue 41, 2021 - Contents
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