Are You Using FAA HF Products?

The FAA's has more maintenance human factors materials than any other source worldwide.

The online sleep assessment tool asks about 10 questions, regarding sleep and work over a three-day period. The bio-mathematical model instantly tells the worker their estimated level of fatigue and fitness for duty. While this tool has been on line for nearly a year, during 2013 the FAA plans to simplify the input and the output advice to the user.

Have you used the guidance material?

Maintenance personnel and their managers are not excited about reading technical reports and such materials. However, a research and development program certainly must document their activity. Some of that documentation may be a bit scientific. The current FAA team has worked hard to make all reports, newsletters, and other publications as readable and practical as possible. It’s all on the web site. That site has more maintenance human factors materials than any other source worldwide. Nearly 10,000 users per month is testimony to the value of the site and the information therein.

Are you tracking the human errors in maintenance?

Human factors issues are not the sole purpose of voluntary reporting systems. But it is undisputable that human factors contribute to more than 80 percent of events. Voluntary reporting, like the FAA Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) (See FAA AC 120-66B) helps individual and organizations document the many small events that may be indicative of increasing risk. Programs, like ASAP, are an important part of a safety culture. Self-reports are often excused from company and/or FAA action. The FAA has worked hard to help ensure that event investigations document the human factors that may be contributing factors. One tool that helps categorize human error in maintenance is the Boeing maintenance error decision aid (MEDA). Detailed information on MEDA is available at

Have you tried to cost justify your safety interventions?

Human factors programs have frequently been the first to experience funding reduction when budgets were tight. Today, enlightened managers recognize the financial cost and safety risk associated with human factors. Of course, the corporate financial managers often need a reminder.

The FAA formalized a process and created support tools to help maintenance managers to calculate a safety and financial return-on-investment (ROI) for maintenance human factors interventions. During 2012, a number of aircraft maintenance organizations used the ROI software (available on the web site) (Ground Support Worldwide, October 2011; Aircraft Maintenance Technology, July 2012). Some of the demonstrated returns were in the 1,000 percent plus range (See AeroSafety World, December 2012). Maintenance-oriented users of the ROI software have commented on the ease of use and the quality of the embedded instructions. No one felt that they needed an MBA to translate the financial process into easy estimates and calculations.

Become a “Yes Man”

If you said yes to all of the questions above then congratulations to you. It means that you are from an organization that sees the value in attention to the hazards of human factors. It also means that you strive to use cost-effective solutions to train and motivate your work force. You likely have an excellent and expanding corporate safety culture.

If you could not say yes to all the questions, no problem. It is not too late to start. Go to and determine which products may work for you. Place your order and you can get started immediately. Become a “Yes Man/Person” when it comes to human factors in your maintenance organization.

Dr. William Johnson spent more than 30 years as senior executive and scientist for engineering companies specializing in technical training and human factors before joining the FAA in 2004. He is also an aviation maintenance technician and has been a pilot for more than 45 years.

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