Aircraft maintenance is a vital aspect of aviation, with failures in aircraft maintenance linked to one third of aircraft malfunctions. The aim of our research in this area was to identify the critical non-technical skills used by aircraft maintenance workers in order to support performance and safety at work.
A mixed-methods approach was used: Aircraft maintenance workers from 2 locations (Scotland and England) were interviewed and asked to discuss adverse and positive events. A short survey was then distributed to further explore worker perceptions of non-technical skill usage across different organizational locations. The interviews identified team-based non-technical skills as situation awareness, decision making, leadership, teamwork and communication, and task management. Lone worker non-technical skills were identified as situation awareness, decision making, and task management. The questionnaire study indicated that perception of task management was significantly more negative than for situation awareness, leadership, teamwork, and communication. Moreover, participants from Scottish units were significantly more positive about situation awareness and teamwork than their English counterparts.
The results indicate that non-technical skills are an important aspect of aircraft maintenance workers’ work performance and safety. The reported differences across organizational units suggests future training programs should be tailored to fit each team.
If you would like to discuss this research further please contact Dr Amy Irwin.