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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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Mark White

RSM, California

Dave Godo

RSM, Ohio Valley

Mark Daniels
Tim Cane
Robbie Johnson

RSM, Mid Atlantic

Santiago Carol

RSM, Latin America

Steve Fleeman

RSM, Landing Gear

Contact Us

WSAA will be piloted at the East Alton, IL facility with the first round of apprentices anticipated to start in August 2024. For more information on West Star Aviation employment or WSAA apprentice selection criteria, please visit or contact Katie Johnson ( or Dave Lagermann (

Application & Selection Process

Before applying, please be aware of the standards of conduct for employment with West Star along with the strict requirements below while attending WSAA.

  • Working in Aviation requires a commit to being drug-free.  Pre-employment drug testing along with random and reasonable suspicion testing is required for all companies employing people working in safety sensitive positions. The position you are considering applying for is safety sensitive.  If hired, you must pass a DOT drug test to start working, if you fail the job offer is rescinded.  If you pass, you must remain drug-free during employment, failing a random or reasonable suspicion test may result in termination of employment.  Please note: marijuana is legal in certain states however the FAA follows Federal law where marijuana is illegal.  This means testing positive for marijuana, or any other illegal drug, will prevent you from working in Aviation. 
  • The first 7.5 months will follow a strict schedule: Monday – Friday 7:00am – 3:30pm (breaks and meal periods provided). 
  • The expectation is to arrive inside the learning center and clocked in at 7:00am.
  • While attending WSAA, no more than 4 hours a week can be missed.  Extenuating medical circumstances will be given full consideration with supporting documentation.
  • WSAA follows an FAA approved curriculum which has certain requirements including attendance. 
  • Testing for the FAA license at the conclusion of WSAA is required, along with passing.  Two opportunities to test will be provided, if needed.  Employment may terminate if the FAA license is not obtained.
  • Candidates will be contacted to complete pre-screening assessments and questionnaires. 
  • Qualified candidates will be contacted in late November and scheduled for a tour and interview with Hiring Managers at West Star Aviation in East Alton, IL.
  • To be qualified, candidates must pass the pre-screening process along with submitting a negative DOT drug test result.
  • Finalists will be selected after onsite interviews. Job offers will be extended in mid-December with a start date of January 9, 2024.
  • Pay while learning in the Academy will be $20 per hour.  Upon successfully graduating and obtaining your FAA license, pay will increase to $27 per hour.