Investigation – When using MEDA, one of the key steps is the interview after an event. Effective interviews incorporate the following:
• Introduce yourself and make sure the interviewee is familiar with the MEDA process.
• Use a checklist.
• Follow up on contributing factors alluded to.
• Ask for ideas on needed corrective actions.
• Avoid "Yes" or "No" questions like "Did you use the maintenance manual?" Instead, you can rephrase it as "What kind of written information did you use?"
The investigation process is the one that presents a major challenge to many companies. It involves a culture change in many cases. The company needs to change from a "blame game" philosophy of investigating an accident so that they can determine who needs to get written up. Instead, the actual causal factors need to be uncovered. Was fatigue a factor? Was adequate technical information provided and used? Was the person properly trained to perform the task? These are some of the questions that can help determine root causes.
Prevention strategies – In this step, the company reviews, prioritizes, implements, and tracks prevention strategies (also known as process improvements) in order to avoid or reduce the likelihood of similar errors in the future.
Feedback – The company must provide feedback to the maintenance technicians. A new policy does no good if nobody on the hangar floor knows about it.
Stop the blame game
As discussed earlier, an antiquated discipline policy that seeks blame is not useful in a MEDA type program. If technicians are disciplined for honest errors, they may:
• Hide errors.
• Not talk openly during an investigation.
• Not perform some tasks that are prone to error.
In the long run, a human factors program such as MEDA can significantly affect safety. To learn more about Boeing’s MEDA program, you can view an article titled The Role of Human Factors in Improving Aviation Safety at www.boeing.com/commercial/aeromagazine/aero_08/human.html. In addition, Human Factors in Aviation Maintenance and Inspection is available online at http://hfskyway.faa.gov.
Benefits of MEDA
About 60 operators have implemented some or all of Boeing’s MEDA process. Some of the benefits reported by them are:
• A 16 percent reduction in mechanical delays.
• Revised and improved maintenance procedures and work processes.
• A reduction in airplane damage through improved towing and headset procedures.
• Changes in the disciplinary culture of operations.
• Improvements in line maintenance workload planning.