COMPLACENCY | The Dirty Dozen: Common human error factors in aircraft maintenance mishaps

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

Complacency can be described as a feeling of familiarity with a task accompanied by a loss of awareness of potential dangers. Such a feeling often arises when conducting routine activities that have become habitual and which may be considered by an individual (sometimes by the whole organization) as easy and safe. With less vigilance, important warning signs can be missed, with the individual only seeing what he, or she, expects to see. Complacency can also occur following a highly intense activity such as recovering from a possible disaster. The relief felt at the time can result in physical relaxation and reduced mental vigilance and awareness.

While too much pressure and demand cause over-stress and reduced human performance, too little results in under-stress, boredom, complacency and reduced human performance. It is therefore important when conducting simple, routine and habitual tasks, and when fatigued, to maintain an adequate, or optimum, level of stress through different stimulation. Always assume you can make a mistake if not careful. Following written instructions and adhering to procedures that increase vigilance, such as inspection routines, can provide suitable stimulus. It is important to avoid working from memory, assuming that something is okay when you haven’t checked it, and signing off work that you are unsure has been completed. Teamwork and mutual cross-checking will provide adequate stimulus when fatigued. If supervising, be actively involved in the activities of your subordinates in a positive, motivating way. Effective leadership is helping our Airmen stay actively engaged with their task by ensuring they perform with excellence, while also teaching them how to do so.

Complacency 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!