Proper procedure plus good maintenance discipline is a recipe for success!

  • Published
  • By Jim Kelly
  • 97 AMW/MX
The importance of aircraft maintenance being performed with and by the prescribed rules, publications, regulations and technical guidance goes without saying. The same rules apply to all Air Force disciplines. We are all professionals; aircrews follow checklists; CE uses prescribed repair manuals, etc. But anytime we deviate from proper procedures, bad things can happen.

Good maintenance discipline is our bread and butter. The pillar to good maintenance discipline is to understand, and follow the required technical guidance. It is a proven fact when it is not followed the results are not good. We can point out examples where failure to follow technical guidance resulted in a mishap. Did you know preventable maintenance mishaps costs us (Air Force) over $80 million dollars or over two million man-hours each year?

Technical data and job guides are written by experts with the background and experience to understand the system. Rules, regulations, instructions and standards are not written to be gray areas. They normally provide a clear path which is black and white. Many rules are the result of other people's bad judgment. Studies have shown that 20 percent of maintenance causal mishaps involve willful violation of the rules.

Complacency and overconfidence are the main reasons mechanics fail to follow the guidance provided. Excuses like "I've done the job a hundred times before," "anyone can do it," or "I have a better way" are poor arguments. The problem is by not following the directed guidance we endanger ourselves, our co-workers, and ultimately our customers who trust us with their lives. If you believe the information is wrong or you have a better method, there is a procedure in place to correct it. For aircraft maintenance that procedure is the AFTO Form 22.

When you follow approved technical guidance while accomplishing your tasks, you are inherently safer. We are tasked to foster a healthy, safety-focused work environment. We do not have one safety officer for the Maintenance Directorate - each of us are safety officers. When we see something that does not look right, looks unsafe, or is not meeting approved procedures we have a responsibility to call "Time Out" or "Knock-it-Off."

It is your duty to call "Time Out" whenever you see an action in progress that is not being conducted with or by the governing directives or a work process that may become too dangerous. After calling "Time Out", your team will review and correct the process before reinitiating the work. If you are unable to make the necessary corrections (i.e., additional help, correct tech data, proper equipment) then call "Knock it Off." This will get help from your immediate supervisor and Division Chief who will make the final determination.

Our job as professionals is to know the priorities. Our priorities are: (1) safety; (2) follow tech data; and (3) task completion. Make sure you use the approved and complete procedures for the job. This also includes the proper tools and PPE. We are all accountable when performing our jobs. Be sure to challenge any deviations. Set high standards for yourself and expect them from others. Take ownership for your own actions and decisions. Hold each other accountable. Be a stakeholder in the outcome of your team's actions. Remember, there is no privacy when it comes to your professional performance. We have one set of standards and we will not compromise them!