Aero Culture: Human Factors


Progress, innovation and…error? One of these might seem like the odd one out. However, each is possible where a human-machine interface and human factors meet.

Man and machine have a complex history. Machines have long been invented to make tasks easier, or to perform in ways that humans could not based on any number of limitations. People in the twenty-first century, though, have come to rely on machines and technology in ways like never before. Since most machinery, aircraft included, cannot function without an operator and/or technician, human factors must be considered.

Human factors are conditions such as fatigue, complacency and stress, among others, that are a result of our most basic mode—being human. The contrast between man and machine might seem obvious, but it is also important. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), “nearly eighty percent of maintenance errors involve human factors.”

Oddly enough, the same qualities that enable an aviation maintenance technician (AMT) to do his or her job also allow for mistakes. Discernment, for example, is one of our most valuable and non-replicable traits; with it comes limitations of mental, emotional, and physical states, human capabilities and environmental conditions.

Human errors are actions with unintended consequences. Error is of particular concern for AMTs because their work affects their own safety and the safety of others. Twelve factors, known as the “dirty dozen,” have been identified and adopted by the aviation industry as a means to discuss human error in aviation maintenance. The “dirty dozen” include:

  • lack of communication
  • complacency
  • lack of knowledge
  • distraction
  • lack of teamwork
  • fatigue
  • lack of resources
  • pressure
  • lack of assertiveness
  • stress
  • lack of awareness
  • norms

While each one of the dozen poses its own threat to safety on the job, and in performing maintenance tasks, there are ways to mitigate risk. For example, to curb the risk of complacency, always expect to find something wrong, never sign off on something you did not fully check and always double check your work.

To combat a lack of knowledge, only fix parts that you are trained to fix, ensure that the maintenance manual you are using is up to date and ask for help if you do not know how to fix something.

With thoughtfulness, preparedness and training, AMTs can avoid the pitfalls and dangers of the “dirty dozen.”

At National Aviation Academy (NAA), we train our students for satisfying careers in the aviation global marketplace. Beyond that, though, we want to ensure they are prepared to succeed in those positions. An awareness of human factors can ensure safety on the job, better work performance, a more involved and responsible workforce and a more enjoyable work environment.

More about human factors is integrated into the NAA curriculum, with additional resources available from the FAA.

Plane Talk: Celebrating National Aviation Day


Franklin Delano Roosevelt established National Aviation Day in honor of Orville Wright’s birthday in 1939. He encouraged citizens to celebrate with activities that generate an interest in the aviation field—aviation enthusiasts continue to do so every Aug. 19.

Orville was one half of the legendary Wright brothers, who are credited with inventing, building and flying the world’s first working airplane. Its first successful flight was sustained on Dec. 17, 1903, just south of Kitty Hawk, NC.

Though they were not the first to fly experimental aircraft, the brothers fashioned their “flying machine” into the first practical fixed-wing aircraft. They invented the aircraft controls that enable fixed-wing powered flight, and developed the three-axis control that allows a pilot to steer an aircraft and maintain its equilibrium. This method remains standard on fixed-wing aircraft to this day.

Orville Wright lived another nine years after the president’s proclamation of the holiday, and was able to look on as the nation celebrated the Wright brother’s achievements. National Aviation Day commemorates the many advancements that have shaped the industry, from the first flight to space travel. What’s exciting, though, is that the aviation industry continues evolve—and at a pace like never before given the speed of technology.

If you attend an aviation maintenance program, or are interested in the field, you are likely already aware of how aviation touches our everyday lives. In an age where jets circle the globe connecting us through travel and commerce, packages arrive almost instantly overnight and the global aerospace community has grown into a multi-trillion dollar industry, there is no better time for innovation and interest in aviation.

Will you heed the call and participate this National Aviation Day? Some ways to celebrate might include: a visit a local science or history museum, watching an aviation-themed movie, building an airplane (even just a model), or telling us about a maintenance or flight experience. Use #NationalAviationDay and #naaedu so we can see how you are celebrating!

NAA will be hosting National Aviation Day celebrations at both campuses so stay tuned for what we have in store.

Industry News: Nearly 1.5 Million Aviation Professionals Needed by 2035


In industry news—a primary reason to consider a career in aviation maintenance is the increasing number of available jobs in the industry. However, these positions cannot be filled without qualified, highly-trained aviation maintenance professionals. National Aviation Academy (NAA) uses industry standards to develop curriculum and meet the needs of the aviation industry. Training at NAA is a first step to access the growing field of aviation.

Evaluating where there is growth and what is required to prepare students for employment is of primary concern. A trusted source for industry predictions is Boeing’s Pilot and Technician Outlook, a respected industry study which forecasts the demand for aviation professionals to support the world’s growing commercial air fleet. Its most recent version was released on July 25, 2016.

Now in its seventh year, Boeing looks to 2035. The study suggests that nearly 1.5 million technicians and pilots will be needed to meet the demands of the industry over the next 20 years. This indicates an 11.3 percent growth in the aviation maintenance sector alone, up from last year’s forecast.

The increase in job projections is attributed to fleet growth. As global economies expand, tens of thousands of new commercial jets will make their debut flights—new aircraft will need to be operated as well as maintained. This translates to an additional 35,000 aviation maintenance technicians required per year from 2016 to 2035.

Calling the demand for aviation personnel “extraordinary,” Boeing suggests that meeting the need will require innovative solutions. Since they do not train aviation maintenance technicians or pilots, Vice President Sherry Carbary states that Boeing “believe[s] the industry can use these numbers for planning purposes.”

Educational and career pipeline programs will be necessary to train and place qualified individuals. Both are crucial to meet the demands of the industry and sustain growing diversity within the field. With this in mind, contact NAA today!

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