A pragmatic mapping of factors behind deviating Acts in aircraft maintenance


A pragmatic mapping of factors behind deviating Acts in aircraft maintenance


In this paper, we analyse twelve cases of deviations from prescribed procedures during scheduled/unscheduled maintenance checks, carried out by an aircraft maintenance organization in Greece. The detailed analysis of these cases let us identify specific factors that guided maintenance technicians towards alternative courses of action. Our focus is not on the material aetiology of deviations but on the underlying factors that determined the actual decision action path by the air maintenance technicians. A generalization of factors is then being made, out of the specific factors identified for each case.

The factors identified ranged from the most normative (e.g. manuals) to the most contextual ones (e.g. personal comfort, schedule pressures). We suggest that by making generalizations of specific factors identified from a pool of specific cases, we gain intimate knowledge on the cognitive and organizational basis of deviations. The intimate knowledge of the aetiology of deviations may help us advance towards a resilient safety management in aircraft maintenance; one that goes beyond the striving for compliance, a safety management that (i) acknowledges that people on the shop floor inevitably make choices and (ii) supports them in taking more “informed” and accountable for decisions.


  • Resilience;
  • Safety critical systems;
  • Aircraft maintenance;
  • Deviations;
  • Work practice

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