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

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

The regulatory requirements for training and qualification can be comprehensive, and organizations must enforce these requirements. Otherwise, lack of on-the-job experience and specific knowledge can lead workers into misjudging situations and making unsafe decisions. Aircraft systems are so complex and integrated that it is nearly impossible to perform many tasks without substantial technical training, current relevant experience and adequate reference documents. Furthermore, systems and procedures can change substantially, and employees’ knowledge can quickly become out-of-date.

It is important for employees to undertake continuing professional development and for the most experienced workers to share their knowledge with colleagues. Part of this learning process should include the latest knowledge on human error and performance. It should not be taken as a sign of weakness to ask someone for help or for information; in fact, this should be encouraged. Checklists and publications should always be referred to and followed, and never make assumptions or work from memory.

Finally, good leaders will help their subordinates see the value in investing in their own expertise. Encourage intellectual curiosity and independent study of the more technical subjects associated with aircraft maintenance. After all, wise investments in your knowledge of these subjects will better posture you for life after the Air Force as well, and there are many courses available for free such as those found here:

Lack of knowledge 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!