Human Error In Aviation Maintenance

Human error is defined as a human action with unintended consequences. There is nothing inherently wrong or troublesome with error itself, but when you couple error with aviation maintenance and the negative consequences that it produces, it becomes extremely troublesome. Training, risk assessments, safety inspections, etc., should not be restricted to attempt to avoid errors but rather to make them visible and identify them before they produce damaging and regrettable consequences. Simply put, human error is not avoidable but it is manageable. [Figure]

Human Error In Aviation Maintenance
Safety awareness will help foresee and mitigate the risk of human error

Types of Errors


An unintentional error is an unintentional wandering or deviation from accuracy. This can include an error in your action (a slip), opinion, or judgment caused by poor reasoning, carelessness, or insufficient knowledge (a mistake). For example, an AMT reads the torque values from a job card and unintentionally transposed the number 26 to 62. He or she did not mean to make that error but unknowingly and unintentionally did. An example of an unintentional mistake would be selecting the wrong work card to conduct a specific repair or task. Again, not an intentional mistake but a mistake nonetheless.


In aviation maintenance, an intentional error should really be considered a violation. If someone knowingly or intentionally chooses to do something wrong, it is a violation, which means that one has deviated from safe practices, procedures, standards, or regulations.

Active and Latent

An active error is the specific individual activity that is an obvious event. A latent error is the company issues that lead up to the event. For example, an AMT climbs up a ladder to do a repair knowing that the ladder is broken. In this example, the active error was falling from the ladder. The latent error was the broken ladder that someone should have replaced.

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