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

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

Being both unable to express our concerns and not allowing others to express their concerns creates ineffective communications and damages teamwork. Unassertive team members can be forced to go with a majority decision, even when they believe it is wrong and dangerous to do so.

Assertiveness is a communication and behavioral style that allows us to express feelings, opinions, concerns, beliefs and needs in a positive and productive manner. When we are assertive, we also invite and allow others to assert themselves without feeling threatened, undermined or that we’ve lost face. Speaking one’s mind assertively is not to be confused with aggression. It is about communicating directly, honestly and appropriately, giving respect to the opinions and needs of others without compromising our own standards.

Assertiveness techniques can be learned. They focus on keeping calm, being rational, using specific examples rather than generalizations, and inviting feedback. Most importantly, any criticisms should be directed at actions and their consequences rather than people and their personalities. This allows others to maintain their dignity and a productive conclusion to be reached.

Any Airman is empowered to call “Knock it off!” before a mishap occurs. Better to stop, take a breath and ensure critical steps haven’t been overlooked before metal gets bent or people get hurt.

Lack of assertiveness 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!