Reporting Error in Aircraft Maintenance: are engineers reporting safety concerns? : A thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Aviation At Massey University, Manawatu, New Zealand
Aviation accidents seldom occur as the consequence of an isolated incident, but as the
result of a series of contributing factors. The industry has focussed on detecting and
predicting these casual factors to support accident prevention. However, the complexity
of aircraft maintenance errors makes them somewhat harder to capture. One method
adopted to support error identification is error-reporting systems.
The primary aim of study was to identify if reporting systems were being utilised by
maintenance personnel. The secondary aim was to distinguish the factors that contribute
to maintenance personnel rejecting reporting systems as a supportive tool. This was
achieved through an online questionnaire. Due to a lack of research on error reporting
and usability of reporting systems by aircraft maintenance personnel it proved difficult to
use an existing survey, so survey questions were developed from an extensive literature
review and a focus group made up of front-line personnel. Survey questions focussed on
reporting system design, company attitude, error recognition and finally maintenance
personnel personality patterns.
Results showed several issues affected reporting system usage including lack of company
support, inadequate training, and lack of feedback. Perhaps the most significant discovery
were engineers believing that they would report error, but were inadequately able to
recognise error. Although regulatory authorities and organisations themselves are seeing
the benefits of a positive reporting culture the current study showed there are still
significant issues with current reporting systems, without these inhibiting factors being
addressed the industry cannot solely rely on self-reporting to manage error.