As we provide workshops around the country, I have many opportunities to discuss maintenance errors and their prevention. Unfortunately, too often I find that some technicians still feel that it is up to their employer to make sure that maintenance errors...

Where are you in your relationship with your family, with your peers, managers, and flight department? If you are not happy, what will it take to make you happy? What do we have to change in our personal lives to give us a positive attitude? Consider reading books, listening to tapes, attending seminars, watching videos, or talking to someone about setting some challenging goals with checkpoints along the way to ensure we are on track. Have we identified what results we are looking for? Most important is to set our long and short-range goals in writing so we can read them frequently, even several times a day. If we make these types of efforts, they might rub off on others. You may positively effect their attitude. This change in attitude, which affects behavior, can be contagious. Be the first one to start.

What communication skills do we possess? Do we take the time to listen to others? Do we make the effort to say what we want to say in a concise and rational way? How well do we, as the maintainers, communicate with the flight department? Do we let them know what was done to the aircraft and what feedback we need to confirm that the aircraft is operating properly? Do you let the flight crew know that you are just as interested in the serviceability of the aircraft as they are? As a professional technician, let the flight crew know that if there is a defect on the aircraft that you would like to discuss it with them on the company radio before the aircraft lands, or as soon as they land, so that if there are any further questions you may have, they can be answered before they shut down the aircraft. Is this type of relationship and this type of communication up to management to create, or is it up to you? We may communicate well among each other on shift but how well do we communicate to other people in our company who may make decisions on our behalf. If you are having problems with relationships and communicating, I strongly recommend again reading How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

We have to let flight crews and management know how important their ability to effectively communicate to us and with us effects our judgment. Are they aware of how important it is for us to have all of the details to make rational decisions? I hope that there will be a day that I do not constantly hear about the flight crews who do not communicate effectively with maintenance. Teamwork and synergy in the workplace rely on good positive communications. A good starting point to establish this is by creating a common goal or mission statement within an aviation department. Once the mission statement is achieved what is everyone's role in obtaining the goal?

Complacency, pressure, stress, and distractions can negatively effect our judgment. We have to make sure that these human factors do not take root in our personal behavior. A relatively easy concept, which does not cost any money and does not require a management directive or policy, is for each of us to take pride in our signature. Our signature is a written testimony of our individual accountability. How many people do we know in this industry who will sign something just for the sake of signing for it? If we read and visualized everything that we did on the check sheet before we signed for the task, there would be a marked decrease in errors. Do not sign a check sheet without first reviewing in your mind everything that you did on the check sheet. Make this a permanent habit and you will have implemented a very strong counter measure to human errors.

If we work in a small flight department, it would be a large benefit to the technician after he worked on the aircraft for 12 hours fixing a defect, for the technician to review with the flight crew what was done to the aircraft. This would not only be another check of the work completed but it makes the pilot aware of what was done to the aircraft he is going to fly. This would also reduce the possibility of something being left uncompleted if the technician had to visualize in his own mind what he did while he was explaining his actions to the pilot. Just imagine this teamwork, synergy, and common goals in action.

As professionals in this industry we are accountable to ourselves to stay knowledgeable in our field. We should do a self-audit to determine areas that we need to improve and study — whether it be in technical, regulatory or even communication skills, and then determine an action plan.

Consider reading trade magazines, manufacturer's communiques, maintenance manuals, manufacturer's conference notes, regulations, advisory circulars, or becoming members in our professional associations and chapters. Listen to tapes on personal skills such as listening, communicating, self-esteem, personal relationships and setting goals. Mix professional technical material with self-improvement and self help topics. Remember that "the day we figure we know it all is the day we should start learning," and "no matter how sharp that axe is we should be able to make it sharper."

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