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Maintenance Minute - March 2024 | Rules, Regs & Norms?

Posted 22 days ago ago by Admin

Recently I was eavesdropping on a conversation at a trade show. One pilot asked another pilot an incredibly important question...  “Do you fly by the rules or by the norms?” I was taken aback by the depth of the question. Needless to say, a very necessary, extensive, and honest conversation followed. Thinking about that question, of course, I applied it to aircraft maintenance. “Do we maintain aircraft by the rules or by the norms?”  This pilot was referring to company rules, but what if he had asked the other pilot if he flew the regulations or the norms.

Since that day I have had conversations with several aviation professionals to get their opinion about the question and it always generates a deep discussion. Regulations, rules, norms and yes, tribal knowledge are a few of the topics that enter the dialog. Rules can be, and often are, regulations and a norm can be ok if it weighs greater than the rule. See what I mean? The discussion can become confusing and deep in a hurry. The real question is… how are we training our pilots and mechanics when it comes to rules and regs. Do we train to a standard? Does everyone read and understand the operations manual, general maintenance manual, repair station manual and the federal aviation regulations? Do we understand how to read an Airworthiness Directive or an EASA Directive? One of the most dangerous statements in our industry is,” this is how we have always done it.”

In my organization, the accountable manager will purchase six FAR books each January. One for me, him, the QC/CI, lead mechanic and two for the mechanics. I know, these are available on our phone and laptop, but we are old school. We like to hold the book and mark it up. I know…I admit… terrible reading but necessary. If you only learn a couple of things a month then over time you will develop regulatory intelligence. The same is true with all the company rule books.

The aviation community is governed by regulations and rules. We all have the same playbook. In my opinion, that is helpful.  What is better is to understand and follow those rules. That way we can identify faulty tribal knowledge and apply firm rules. Train and teach others that our current set of regulations and rules were developed from experience and wisdom, and sadly, some bought and paid for by accidents and mishaps. At the end of the day, they are designed to ensure that everyone arrives home safely and that makes it worth the effort to learn and follow.

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