Among the many elements to manage operational safety is human fatigue. Physical and mental fatigue is weariness resulting from exertion or prolonged work and stress.
Fatigue’s affect on aviation safety becomes an effective operation weakness. Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) set explicit guidance for pilot rest and duty times, but do not clearly define or require guidelines for aircraft maintenance personnel. The irony to me is that both jobs are officially, and correctly I may add, identified as safety sensitive positions and regulated for alcohol and substance abuse.
The result is that more often than not, flight departments adhere to stringent pilot fatigue considerations and standards, while most do not have any set guidelines for maintenance personnel.
Many departments outsource their aircraft maintenance and have little to no knowledge of maintenance personnel’s duty and rest or fatigue status. Other departments do have their own full-time maintenance staff, which generally has some positive influence on safety, yet they still do not have set standard operating procedures (SOP) for maintenance duty times.
The safest structured departments have set duty procedures to help combat human fatigue for both flight and maintenance personnel. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and all good Safety Management Systems (SMS) recognize and encourage operators to implement best practices for conducting aircraft maintenance.
When considering what may set an operator apart form another, ask what guidelines are in place to help fight the weakening human fatigue challenge for their safety sensitive personnel, as well as other SOPs that contribute to operational safety. “Safety is not accident, flight departments are tasked to create operational safety and must work at it from top management down.
SSC guidelines are set, not only for operational safety, but for the safety of our personnel. The SSC maintenance safety guidelines apply both to our own managed fleet and the outsourced customer. This ensures that our maintenance team applies the best practices toward the highest aircraft maintenance standards.
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