An Inductive Approach to Identify Aviation Maintenance Human Errors and Risk Controls

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Tai Wei Jiang
Chien-tsung Lu
Haoruo Fu
Nora Palmer
Jingfei Peng


Human errors can be present in any maintenance task and cause latent but dangerous situations to commercial aviation. By looking into past accidents and incidents caused by aviation maintenance errors, the importance of safety measures would be highlighted - including continuous education on maintenance human factors. Currently, the FAA Part 147 airframe and powerplant (A&P) training curriculum includes general, airframe, and powerplant modules. However, the curriculum does not mandate human factors education or aviation safety pedagogical content. The objectives of this study are to: 1. Find and analyze emerging themes of aviation maintenance-related accidents from existing documentation; 2. Apply risk assessment tools to conduct a risk assessment and identify causal and latent variables; 3. Use detailed qualitative case analysis on major accidents to identify contributing variables of human factors; and 4. Provide recommendations to advocate the importance of human factors education. This study uses a qualitative approach, employing meta-narrative analysis and the VOSviewer visualization tool to demonstrate inter-connected themes related to aviation maintenance problems. Detailed Fishbone (Ishikawa) diagrams showcasing the effectiveness of the selected tools for pedagogical purposes are followed by several case studies, together shedding light on the criticality of continuous education of maintenance human factors. The recommendations based on research findings are beneficial to maintenance training institutions for them to be more aware of potential shortcomings.

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