What Normalizing Deviance In The MRO Environment Means To You

One characteristic that makes West Star Aviation a great MRO is the opportunity to always learn from both positive and negative experiences. Recently Mike Hart of AVweb penned a great article on July 6, 2023 that goes in-depth about how the Human Factor plays a major role in flight and maintenance incidents.

At the very beginning, the article states, “Humans are great at rationalizing our actions and normalizing our own deviations. One of our behavioral norms is to drive safely and follow traffic laws, but sometimes we take exceptions. On a busy interstate I might decide to drive over the speed limit by rationalizing that it is safer to stay with the flow of traffic (and maybe it is) but, when the other lanes become empty am I still driving above the posted speed limit? If I am then my SOP of following the speed limit has been subverted. My rationalized excuse is gone but the behavior remains. I am now headed down the slippery slope of normalization of deviance. Worse, I haven’t asked myself whether I was justified in breaking the law in busy traffic or just in a hurry and looking for an excuse.”

In aviation “Normalizing Deviance” often leads to fatal accidents! We tend to focus on the pilots as that’s where the rubber meets the road however, the technicians that service the aircraft play a vital role as well and when “shortcuts” and “that’s just the way we do it” becomes the norm then we have willingly short-circuited policy and procedure which can often lead to disaster.

At West Star Aviation, we talk about the hazards of Normalizing Deviance at New Hire and Annual Safety Training. We also review every employee injury and aircraft incident during our Root Cause Analysis to see if deviation from policy or documented maintenance procedures played an active roll in the incident. Not surprisingly, we’ve found in over 88% of our cases that Normalizing Deviance was in fact a key player to injuries/damage.

As access to experienced technicians becomes a tighter commodity in the aviation industry along with increased production demands, and tighter delivery schedules, we at West Star Aviation realize that increased efforts in training and awareness play a key-roll in keeping our customers safety and the preservation of their aircraft at the forefront of our business.

Please take the time to review Mr. Hart’s article as well as “The Cost of Silence: Normalization of Deviance and Groupthink” written by NASA’s Chief of Safety and Mission Assurance.

At West Star Aviation the safety of our staff, our customers, and our vendors is a top priority. We train our staff in Human Factors to include the Normalization of Deviance, it doesn’t just apply to aircrew.

For more information on normalizing deviation and the steps West Star Aviation takes to avoid it,
please contact the specialist below:

Kraig Meyer

Kraig Meyer

Director of Environmental, Health & Safety
Cell 970.248.5225

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