Give Me The Right Instructions – Please!

Accurate technical documentation is a serious point of frustration and can lead to safety risks.

Accessing this data efficiently and accurately has become paramount for the ground services staff to perform its work. Let’s face the fact that personnel injury, equipment damage and lost bags are most likely caused by a failure to follow procedures. Good procedures and correct information are critical if we expect people to follow them.

Make it easy to get procedural information: Easy access to the procedures will ensure that all work is completed safely, efficiently and effectively. Procedures, when followed consistently, ensure that the right things happen every time.

Provide the right tools: Delivery tools should be developed to allow for the single point-of-use of all relevant data associated with a task. In today’s ramp environment, companies must address the emerging requirements for real-time, mobile and point-of-use access to data or instructions.

Provide the right solutions: Data from multiple sources need to be connected so users can go to a one-stop information shop. This will provide the opportunity to improve access, understanding and oversight of ground service operations for all involved.


Content accuracy is a recurring challenge in technical documentation and a hazard in every aspect of the aviation system. This is a problem that requires industry, government and individual action. What can you do?

Industrial Actions:

Manufacturers should take the lead to standardize documentation format:

  • Evaluate the utility of new technology and its delivery of procedural information.
  • Seek employee and customer guidance on this topic.
  • Obtain and demonstrate corporate commitment to this effort.
  • Consider developing a single portal where contents are similarly formatted and easily accessible.
  • Encourage voluntary reports about documentation in advance of an event.

Governmental Actions:

  • Coordinate with industry.
  • Collect the data and insist on a rapid transition from data collection to information reporting and application.
  • Encourage voluntary reporting and special emphasis on procedural and documentation-related challenges.
  • Create checklists to assess the quality of written procedures (applied R&D effort).


Individual Actions:

  • Give advice/suggest your ideas for improved access to procedural information.
  • Report all difficult company or manufacturer instructions to your management.
  • Use voluntary reporting systems to highlight the documentation challenges.
  • Take responsibility to help make procedures and documentation better.

The ways to address the hazards associated with content accuracy in procedures and technical documentation are clear. Join together, use non-punitive reporting systems, strive to get to the root of the problems and try new solutions.

The challenges of following procedures and providing accurate technical information are big. It is not a problem that will fix itself. Addressing the accuracy of technical information is an opportunity to ensure continuing safety and to improve the company’s bottom line.

Stay tuned for future articles that address the remaining top challenges and solutions in technical documentation.

Dr. Katrina Avers is a Research Scientist at the Federal Aviation Administration in the Civil Aerospace Medical Institute Human Factors Research Lab. Dr. Avers takes a practical, science-based approach and has worked to develop applied solutions that can be used across the industry.

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