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

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

Poor communication often appears at the top of contributing and causal factors in accident reports and is, therefore, one of the most critical human factor elements. Communication refers to the transmitter and the receiver, as well as the method of transmission. Transmitted instructions may be unclear or inaccessible. The receiver may make assumptions about the meaning of these instructions, and the transmitter may assume that the message has been received and understood. With verbal communication it is estimated that only 30 percent of a message is received and understood.

Detailed information must be passed before, during and after any task, and especially across the handover of shifts. Therefore, when messages are complex, they should be written down, and organizations should encourage full use of logbooks, worksheets, checklists, etc. Verbal messages can be kept short, with the most critical elements emphasized at the beginning and repeated at the end. Assumptions should be avoided and opportunities for asking questions both given and taken. Furthermore, for critical operations such as towing or jacking an aircraft, or conducting an engine run, ensure all members of the team understand their roles, expectations and what to do if things go wrong. This extra communication may add time to tasks, but even one mishap will cost much more time to sort out, and it may cost someone his or her life.

Lack of communication 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!