Role of Communications in Aircraft Maintenance Management
The mainstay of every establishment is communication, and it is same with the aviation organization. In the absence of communication, the entire gamut of its inherent functions like aircraft servicing program, maintaining flight schedules and various other functions will come to a standstill. Despite this, proper attention is not being paid to the planning and executing communications set up within the flight department. Equipped with an excellent communication system, the department of aviation will be in constant readiness for all flights ranging from arranging flight schedules to maintaining to keeping a limousine at the arrival site. This sense of discipline renders the aviation department a precious and flawless procedure within the corporation strengthening its position as qualitative feature.
Presently, the most secured and fastest mode of journey is perceived through aeronautics. However, the occurrence of sporadic air disasters sometimes calls upon our confidence on the mode. However, probe into most of the disasters reveals them as consequence of maintenance flaws. The first ever disaster as a result of manufacturing and designing error was related to Icarus, whereas many attribute it to the mistakes committed by pilot. Presently however most of the air accidents occur due the faulty maintenance and irregular inspection to aircrafts. The accident of Aloha Airlines occurred in Hawaii in 1988 is considered as most stunning. The accident was due to separation of the upper fuselage of the plane at floor line while flying. The travelers at wreckage point were forced to slip, however, due to luck and dexterity of pilot the plane was managed to land only loosing a flight attendant that was standing in the passageway at the time of wreckage. The succeeding probe into the incidents bring out that often the Maintenance division of the plane is just ignoring the symptoms of imminent structural deficiencies of the plane. (Hobbs, 2000)
The Maintenance staff was undertaking the scheduled pre-flight maintenance of a Continental Express Emraer Brasilia in order to make it ready for the morning flight next day. The horizontal stabilizer de-ices boots were to be replaced among others. The staffs in one staff could complete installation of one boot along with part installation of another one. There were a communication gap and the staff of former shift did not inform the later shift workers about incomplete work. The integrating screws on the upper surface were left loose. Since the work was being undertaken outside the hangar on perfect darkness, the staff of later shift with the help of a focusing light were satisfied with the structural appearance and left the aircraft for service in the next morning leaving the upper surface unattended. While flying the separation of the boot from stabilizer caused structural degeneration of empennage and loss of all life and aircraft occurred. It is evident that accident occurs due to combination of a plethora of simple maintenance flaws. Empirically speaking nearly 10% of the flight accidents are due to maintenance flaws. Errors committed by the staff are leading causes of most of the disasters. It is widely perceived that sorting out of the flaws at the time of maintenance can successfully avoid an accident. (Hobbs, 2000)
It has been laid down that the maintenance communication is obligatory of taking off of a grounded plane. However, often the detailed procedure of communication is found amazing. At that time only a few planes were operating and the technology involved from maintenance point-of-view were taken to be of low standard particularly in view of the present complexities. The revolutionary changes that occurred in the recent years is evident from the fact that during 1988 the publication division of the Boeing Commercial Airplane Company had to bring out several active manuals in respect of the aircrafts catering to the needs of flight operators globally. Presently, most of the manufacturing companies in this line have been resorting to electronic publication of their manuals. It is now possible for the maintenance staff to refer to the manuals from discs or tapes with its reproduction in a terminal. (LaMaire; Krishna; Panian; Bhagwat, 1996)
The improvements brought through the computing technology it has become easier to peep through the pages of the manuals facilitating quick finding of the material by searching through key words, collection of relevant materials from different sources even facilitating real time training and job aid. The archives of regulations, airworthiness directives, repair procedures and list of spares are readily accessible through these systems. The unique facilities of PEN computers allow the users through specially prepared handwriting recognition software to input reports, forms and related data on screen. It has been estimated that more than 20% of the time of the technicians and inspectors are being utilized in preparation of papers. The recent developments in the paperless electronic systems will reduce the time consuming process and provide more time to the technicians and Federal Aviation Administration inspectors for devoting to more productive work for which they are deployed. (LaMaire; Krishna; Panian; Bhagwat, 1996)
The management of maintenance is of prime concern for the owners as well as the operators from the operational point-of-view. The management of maintenance directly influences the performances of the company through minimization of the depreciation, ensuring secured operation, adherence to the prescribed regulations, ensuring customer contentment. Effective dealings of the issues related to communication and maintenance are prime considerations of the repair agreements. The issues involved are related to transmission media of communication, approval of the works and punitive actions for the deviations, approval of the exchange materials etc. It should be explicitly laid down much before in order to avoid delay in maintenance as well as enhancement of its costs. (The Royal Aeronautical Society, 1991)
This is much critical in an environment of outsourcing which necessitates perfect links of communication and clear demarcations of responsibilities. Deviations result in confusions and high cost. The critical issues involved in consideration to the use of the internal resources are availability of staff and estimation of work flow. The significance of the issues stems from the weaknesses of the system of having too much or too less resource. The cyclical maintenance of aircraft and engine determines the degree of the maintenance management. A recent disaster of commuter airline signifies the importance of the management of communication and maintenance environment.
Problems with communication account for a third of the General Aircraft (GA) incidents, according to latest findings of the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) records regarding events concerning GA. Among the dilemma, are lack of conformity stipulated by ATC clearances, breakdown of communication devices and low quality of radio communication systems. In case of surface and in-flight events concerning external radio communications, the most often used communication was from the control tower. Ambiguous, faulty or deceptive reports were the chief kind of aberration in trainer communications. Belated or communication not conveyed by the trainers was ranked as the second most recurrent trainer aberration and the most important reason of belated or improper actions by the apprentices. Defective or badly used handsets and deployed radios are the commonly accounted difficulties. (Communications-related Incidents in General Aviation Dual Flight Training, 1998)
The evolution of internet electronic communications through the World Wide Web are being extended to embrace the communication environment amidst airspace and facilitating the travelers as well as the staff to access the advantages accrued thereof. Safety, security, efficiency and traveler contentment are various areas of the aviation strategy facilitated in the process. A long transitional evolutionary process is evident in the sphere of aircraft communication ensuring a greater degree of navigation and security. Primarily the radio communications in earlier times were confined to establishment of link between the controlling tower and pilot for facilitating safe landing and collision avoidance. Gradually the communication links are evolved to make available all related additional information to the staff and controlling tower ensuring better management of the air traffic. The communication network has transformed from analogue to digital.
Putting a functional radio communication setup will put a considerable effect on the security by augmenting instruction given to pilots and assessment. A functional radio communication set up must equip pilots with chance to: undertake examination of frequency as also assignment and disruption management expertise; improve the management competencies of the crewmembers; working in unison with the concerned organizations at the time of latest events, like making a landing on parallel runways for which a separate controller is necessary; developing their capability to augment the consciousness of the present circumstances from important group members having weather and traffic data; make sure that they are in tune with the state-of-the-art communication methods and terminologies; strengthen concentration allotment and distinguishing proficiencies required to be able to tell apart the clearances of the pilot's aircraft steered by him from the clearances meant for other aircraft, get concerted heed from the teacher or trainer; stay away from a poor training atmosphere resulting in the growth of compartmentalized outlook; trim down the professed simulator attitude that may interfere with the shuttling…