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Maintenance: Reducing Maintenance Risks

Many aircraft operators and repair stations mitigate maintenance risk by adhering to four key concepts: communication, continuity, planning and oversight.

Those guidelines come into play at MRO provider Constant Aviation during “toolbox talk,” a roughly half-hour daily meeting in which maintenance technicians discuss the potential risks before taking on a job. That forum also serves as a “hand off” for the next shift, explained Tim Wade, the company’s environmental health and safety manager. “In aviation, communication and buy-in are key. This is how we prevent loss.”

Reducing risk is an important part of Constant Aviation’s safety management system, which involves everyone in the organization, from technicians on the floor to the company’s leadership. In addition, facility safety representatives provide oversight by walking the floor, checking for cleanliness, health hazards and other unsafe conditions, or anything that “just doesn’t look right,” said Wade. There also are daily, weekly and monthly work reviews that are incident-driven and provide context for future projects.

“In aviation, communication and buy-in are key. This is how we prevent loss.”

Tim Wade Environmental Health and Safety Manager, Constant Aviation

Constant Aviation separates its risk-mitigation efforts into two categories – equipment and tasks. Each category has its own checklist and standard procedure, according to Kent Stauffer, vice president of quality, safety and training. “What are the risks, such as asphyxiation or confined spaces? Then you add the mitigations,” he explained.

For Constant Aviation, mitigating risk begins even before work is accepted, noted Wade. In evaluating a job or bidding on a contract, it may become evident that the project isn’t a proper fit, or that it may stretch resources, which could compromise safety and quality.

A Simple, Straightforward Approach

A large flight department in the Southeast uses a simple, straightforward approach to reduce risk. Repetitive and routine tasks form a baseline of normal risk, while special or less-frequent items have higher-than-normal risk, such as aircraft jacking, working at heights, outside contractors onsite and working during a circadian low, explained its senior manager of aircraft maintenance.

This operator’s maintenance team meets before the start of each shift to discuss those heightened risks and develops a risk-assessment checklist, which usually has about 40 items.

“When the checklist was first developed, it had over 90 items,” said the senior manager. “We found we were checking over half of them every day. So, this created the baseline of normal risk, and it allows us to focus on the higher-level risks.”

When the checklist is completed, every member of the maintenance team is alerted by email. An alert also is sent to the safety chairman and the senior director when the risk level rises to a predetermined higher level.

This operator also has a safety management system that encourages anyone in the flight department to communicate concerns or suggest ways to reduce maintenance risk. It’s an ongoing and highly visible effort that includes safety posters throughout the workplace that point out potential hazards and the importance of using proper personal protective equipment.

Review NBAA’s risk-management resources at nbaa.org/insurance.

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