Maintenance resource management

Maintenance Resource Management By Stephen P. Prentice March 1998 Stephen P. Prentice is an attorney whose practice involves FAA-NTSB issues. He has an Airframe and Powerplant license and is an ATP rated pilot. He worked with Western...

Maintenance Resource Management

By Stephen P. Prentice

March 1998

Stephen P. Prentice

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Prepare to be surprised if you are fortunate enough to attend a resource management workshop at your place of employment or in a more formal setting at a FlightSafety presentation. This writer recently had an opportunity to see and hear first hand just what the subject was all about and more importantly, learn from it.

We might say that maintenance resource management (MRM) is nothing but the application of common sense rules to our everyday work environment. But this is clearly an oversimplification. Common sense rules must be reinforced with clear, concise guidelines for uniform application. The reason for MRM is the mother of all reasons — safety.

In the normal course of our work day we are organizing, communicating, and otherwise interacting with our fellow workers around the shop or hangar. Whether we are aware of it or not, we make MRM-type decisions all day long. We examine job requirements, gather the resources to complete the job, set a goal for completion, and then communicate with our fellow workers about the details. In essence, this is what MRM is all about job requirements, resources, goals, and communication. "People are more likely to communicate when there is a common goal or focus," says Bonnie Hendrix, FlightSafety's manager of MRM training. She goes on to say, "But don't let the goals drive you, you must drive the goals." Good advice. Furthermore, Hendrix says, "How people see you at work determines how they will communicate with you."

Work crews must interact with each other so they can recognize a potential problem before it becomes a hazard to flight operations. Hendrix relates the story of the midwest commuter aircraft that crashed because of poor communication between a day and a night maintenance crew. Leading edge fasteners attaching deice boots were inadvertently left off one side of the horizontal stabilizer causing a loss of control. Hendrix cites the accident as a classic example of what MRM is designed to prevent.

If there is one significant, stand out feature of MRM training it has to be the recognition of situations that can lead to accidents. You have to be aware of your surroundings at all times. Working around machinery and aircraft can be a threatening environment when you don't keep your wits about you.

You have seen it all happen if you have been in the hangar long enough. Any action you take that can trigger a remote response that you can't see and monitor should be taken with great care and supervision. Just simply keep in mind that somebody can easily be injured or killed by the actions you take. You must have a safety goal in mind and that goal must be a specific procedure to complete the process. A procedure must be in place to prevent or reduce the potential for injury.

In order to implement these procedures, you have to communicate. Communication is the mother of safe practices and a breakdown of communication can be cited in many, if not all, accidents.

Technicians cannot be lone eagles. You have to talk to each other and to the operations people who control and dispatch aircraft maintenance instructions. No one can work alone efficiently or safely. Working alone in a hostile environment will surely create threats that may cause harm.

A recent sad example was that of a technician working on a DC-3 in the Midwest. He was up in the wheel well, in a remote aircraft storage area, removing a piece of equipment. Suddenly and without warning the landing gear started to fold, pinning him in the well and ultimately suffocating him by crushing his chest. He did not die quickly and must have suffered a lot.

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