Faulty aircraft escape slides frequently put the lives of passengers at risk, according to the findings of a UK study into the main causes of maintenance-related incidents on aircraft.

"Although these are rarely a direct hazard to the aircraft, these items can pose a direct threat to survivability in the event of an accident," says the UK Civil Aviation Authority in its Aircraft Maintenance Incident Analysis.

It proposes a more in-depth study of escape slide upkeep, recommending that efforts to solve persistent problems should focus on airlines that have few problems, as a source of best practice.

Published late last year, the study analysed a selection of maintenance-related incidents on jet aircraft above 5,700kg (12,560lb) maximum take-off weight, logged under the requirements of the CAA's Mandatory Occurrence Reporting (MOR) scheme in an effort to identify common causes or factors.

Meanwhile, a US survey of maintenance human factors regimes worldwide reveals a general "inconsistency between belief and action" in preventing technicians making mistakes through fatigue.

Over half those surveyed by the US Federal Aviation Administration indicated that managing fatigue was an important ele­ment of their safety management system, but only a quarter admitted actually having a fatigue management system.

"The inconsistency between belief and action was further evident in that only 36% reported that their organisation provided training on fatigue management," says the FAA.

The CAA's Safety Regulation Group says its analysis would help it focus on areas there was still work to reduce the number of maintenance errors.

"The CAA will continue to analyse maintenance incident occurrence reports to monitor trends and to work closely with groups like the Royal Aeronautical Society's HF-Engineering group, UK Confidential Human Factors Incident Reporting Scheme's MEMS Group and the European Aviation Safety Agency's HF Maintenance Focus Group to understand why maintenance errors occur and what can be done to reduce the number of occurrences," it says.

Source: FlightGlobal.com