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NEWS | Nov. 21, 2013

Maintainer's course prepares students to eliminate preventable accidents

By Alex Salinas Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

After an aircraft maintainer's death in 2004, at then-Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., the Air Force created an educational course to better ensure the safety of its uniformed and civilian maintainers. This class is called the Maintenance Resource Management Course.

The eight-hour MRM course is engineered to help maintenance crews improve their ability to identify flightline hazards, and make appropriate, decisions influenced by the safety of themselves and others.

Skills taught include: planning/preparation; communication; mutual support/teamwork; task management; situational awareness; decision making; and feedback/lessons learned.

The MRM course also uses case studies and student experiences to examine risks on the flightline and in the shop.

"During class, students are asked to predict where they believe a potential accident could occur and how the accident can be prevented," Robert West, 12th FTW director of maintenance, said.

According to the Air Force Safety Center, four out of five military Class A mishaps, where loss of life or more than $1 million in damage occurs, involve human error. In 2013, 14 aircraft were lost across the Air Force.

"If we can reduce or eliminate human error, we can reduce mishaps, save lives and save money," Robert Hamm, 12th FTW deputy director of maintenance, said.

"To create an environment where every employee strives to eliminate human error, we must take a fundamental look at how we accomplish our day-to-day jobs and keep workers from being put in a position where they feel it's acceptable to take a short cut to meet a production schedule," West said.

For 12th FTW technicians who maintain T-1s, T-6s and T-38s daily, the MRM class reminds them that aircraft go through a change with every modification and upgrade.

"This means complying with maintenance policies, procedures and technical orders on every repair is essential to eliminating complacency," Lloyd Teachworth, 12th FTW director of maintenance executive assistant, said.

"The best way to get the mission done is to avoid errors," Hamm said. "If we can't avoid errors, we need to learn how to trap the errors, and if we can't trap the errors, then we must work to mitigate the consequences of them."