LACK OF AWARENESS | The Dirty Dozen: Common human error factors in aircraft maintenance mishaps

  • Published
  • By Safety Directorate
  • Headquarters Air Education and Training Command

Working in isolation and only considering one’s own responsibilities can lead to tunnel vision, a partial view, and a lack of awareness of how our actions can affect others and the wider task. Such lack of awareness may also result from other human factors, such as stress, fatigue, pressure and distraction.

One problem with “channelized” attention is that it will prevent you from noticing key events happening around you that may affect your task. If you’re so focused on prepping for an engine run that you fail to notice someone else “borrowed” your fire bottle before the start, you may wish you had been aware what was happening so you could intervene at the time, rather than having to delay for 30 minutes to go find the required fire suppression.

Additionally, you may lack awareness how the task you’re doing relates to everything that comes after it. Understanding the “why” will help you remember the “how” to do it correctly and “what” can result if you don’t. It is important to build experience throughout our careers, especially concerning the roles and responsibilities of those we work with and our own place in the wider team. Developing our foresight is essential in pre-empting the effects our actions may have on others. Furthermore, asking others to check our work and challenge our decisions is useful in gaining the relevant experience and expanding our awareness as well as theirs.

Combat lack of awareness through good communication and asking questions. If you don’t know “why” you’re doing something, ask! If your supervisor doesn’t have time to explain it, then hold on to your question and follow up with them once the task at hand is complete. If you are the supervisor, anticipate “why” questions and answer them as thoroughly as time/opportunity will allow. At a minimum, commend your subordinates for their curiosity, and always take advantage of an opportunity to teach. If you don’t know the answer, admit that, ask your supervisor, and follow back up with your Airmen when you do.

Lack of awareness is just one of the aircraft maintenance Dirty Dozen. For the full list, click here:


NOTE: Below is a link to the Airman Safety App (ASAP), which provides Airmen the opportunity to report safety-related risks and close calls using the Airman Safety Action Report. Anyone, anywhere, with almost any device can quickly and easily report safety-related problems involving personnel, equipment or property. Remain anonymous if you wish. Reporting is the first step to obtaining a solution for improvement. Reporting is simple and only takes between 3 and 10 minutes. Click on the link below to start your report. It’s fast and easy!