Preventative measures

Preventative Measures Safety Programs Are Needed for Maintenance Operations By Michelle Garetson October 1998 There's a poster on the wall in the Aviation Safety program department at the University of Southern California that reads...


Probably the most memorable and moving presentation of the conference came from NTSB member, John Goglia. Prior to becoming a member of the National Transportation Safety Board, Goglia worked 30 years as a maintenance technician for USAir.

"Safety is the managed risk of mechanical misadventures," he said during his speech, Removing the Maintenance Link from the Accident Chain. Goglia spoke of his years with USAir, including what he called, "the black years — the 5 major incidents in 5 years," and voiced his concerns regarding the qualifications of present day technicians.

"I'm finding that more than a few technicians out there come from hotel management backgrounds," he told the crowded conference room. "How can that be?" Goglia went on to discuss the problem of diminishing expertise found in maintenance and the safety concerns that arise in that type of environment.

Information given in a briefing for airline senior management (Managing for Safety, May 1998) from the Flight Safety Foundation, suggested that "Safety is free." By implementing a successful safety program, the financial benefits resulting from an operation functioning at peak safety levels, will outweigh the program costs. An effective program will allow operators to avoid costs in the form of fewer incidents and accidents, while reaping the benefits of lower expenses for workers' compensation and aircraft-insurance premiums.

Just as a successful safety program can generate financial growth, poor safety performance can produce poor financial performance. Increased instances of incidents and accidents can considerably damage an operator's reputation, financial statements, and employee morale.

Richard Mileham, Airworthiness Safety Program Manager, FAA - FSDO, Great Lakes Region, works with the aviation industry to set up safety programs in an effort to reduce accidents through aviation education.

The Flight Standards District Offices (FSDO) provide outlines for safety programs that follow FAA regulations to help management and technicians gain technical proficiency through education. These programs are tailored to the specific needs of facility.

"We try for in-house training,"says Mileham, "by either sending a representative from the FSDO, safety counselor, or sending an expert in the specific area as required by facility. Some programs, such as carrier programs for example, are often incorporated with their own training classes." Different types of operators have different considerations and objectives. A CFR 91 may want training in Inspection programs, while a 145 operation may need information on JAA requirements.

According to Mileham, the initial "safety" program, which originated in the early part of this century, was the accident prevention program for pilots. The inaugural program was originally geared to general aviation, but now encompasses anything related to aviation. The safety programs known today have only been developed within this decade.

The concerns most facilities want to address today when developing a safety program are about the FARs and compliance with specific FARs, especially Part 66, FAR 11.

Technicians are mostly concerned with training on compliance with FARs and how they can stay within boundaries; the compliance parameters regarding maintenance records such as; how long they have to keep records and electronic versus written records, as well as participating in programs specific to their duties and responsibilities.

Mileham says that he needs to stay current in order to help those that come to the FSDOs for guidance. He receives recurrency training from associations like PAMA, NBAA, EAA-Oshkosh, — any type of seminar related to safety issues in the industry.

Praise and acknowledgment was given to associations such as PAMA, AOPA, NBAA, and the Air Transport Association for helping to set up safety programs.

The FAA and these organizations all work together to try and keep things current for the industry and are invaluable resources for maintenance operations willing to take preventative measures to ensure safety for themselves and their customers.

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