Pairing ASAP with a line operations safety assessment (LOSA) can make for a potent line and hangar maintenance safety system. LOSA is also predicated on voluntary, confidential and non-punitive participation. Those data are often collected by peer observations, during normal operations. Both unions and management buy into the process. Johnson says the beauty of this approach when properly applied is that it can help predict accidents. Say a peer observer is watching an aircraft as it's parked. Because there are no other aircraft in the immediate area, the person on the right side of the aircraft might not be using proper hand signals to the pilot. It's not a major mistake. Because the ramp was uncrowded, there was no harm done—at least not this time. If an employee is lax one time, it could become habitual. By focusing on the human failure to use proper procedure every time, LOSA can help predict that sometime in the future there's going to be a real problem with potentially serious consequences.
Ed Jonak, Southwest Airlines' manager of maintenance and engineering safety programs, is a true believer in predictive systems. The carrier invests a lot of credence in key performance indicators. There are two kinds: lagging and leading.
A major lagging indicator is lost workdays. Another, intimately related to it, is injury. Incident-only or so-called “near misses” are leading indicators. Nobody gets hurt, goes to the hospital or loses any workdays in near misses. The company uses data from these incidents to intervene and stop potential future injuries in their tracks.
Lost workday cases at Southwest dropped by 15.5% from 2010 to 2011. At the same time “Incident reports have actually gone up by 6.2%,” says Jonak. The implication: “Maybe if we see six near misses, we can jump on that and hopefully prevent three accidents.”
The FAA recently developed a tool to prove return on investment for human factor interventions, such as training. By inputting the estimated investment and results, the tool calculates the return on investment (ROI). A major MRO in the U.S. that elected to remain unidentified focused was how money invested in fatigue training correlated with ROI.
The MRO reported that a $205,000 investment to train up 2,500 employees for two hours each lead to a 10% reduction (amounting to $935,000) in aircraft damage, compared to 2010, when it incurred $10 million in losses due to damaged aircraft. The company also wanted to trim OSHA injuries by 10% or the equivalent of $119,000 compared to 2010. When the numbers came in, the ROI for the MRO was 312%. Actual aircraft damage was cut by $3 million, or 30%, and OSHA injuries by $184,000, or 15%.
Is this the breakthrough metric the industry's been seeking? Does safety then become an economic imperative? “That's the feeling this [MRO] had,” says Johnson.
CLICK mxfatigue.com to visit FAA's Maintenance Fatigue site and find the ROI Calculator and other fatigue risk management resources.