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The Most Common Causes of Aviation Maintenance Mistakes

The vast majority of maintenance mistakes are caused by human error and would lead to dangerous conditions if they went undetected. How can you prevent making mistakes when performing maintenance on your plane? It helps to learn the cause of maintenance mistakes. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, these are the most common causes of aviation maintenance mistakes:


Taking care of your aircraft requires your full attention, so if you are attempting to multitask while maintaining your plane, it is very likely that you will make mistakes. You may forget what has and has not been done already, which could lead to you skipping over important steps in the process. Prevent this from happening by getting rid of anything in your environment that may distract you from the maintenance task at hand. Don’t look at your cell phone, listen to music, or get into a deep conversation with another person while working on your aircraft. Instead, focus all of your attention on the task. If you are forced to work in an environment with possible distractions, get out a piece of paper and create a list of things that need to be done. Mark off each task as you complete them so you can keep track of what you are doing.

Failing to Speak Up

If you believe there is a problem with a part of the plane, you should speak up and let a mechanic know right away instead of assuming that he will find the issue during a regular inspection. Many pilots make this mistake because they feel the mechanic may think the pilot is trying to tell him how to do his job if he mentions a strange noise or issue that came up during the last flight. Don’t let this fear of stepping on someone’s toes prevent you from voicing your concerns. Taking care of a plane is a team effort, so you should never shy away from being involved in the process.


Pilots who have flying for a long time often get complacent when performing preflight inspections and maintenance on their aircrafts. They may rush through the checklists or skip over certain parts to speed up the process. This often leads to pilots overlooking issues with the aircraft that need to be addressed right away. Going through the same maintenance checklist over and over again may seem tedious, but it’s important that you do it anyways to protect yourself and your aircraft.


Whereas experienced pilots may make maintenance mistakes because of complacency, inexperienced pilots can make maintenance mistakes because they simply do not know better. Inexperienced pilots should always rely on user manuals and the guidance of a skilled aircraft mechanic for help with maintaining their planes. These pilots should also participate in trainings whenever they become available, and ask others for help if they need it. Don’t let your inexperience lead to a dangerous maintenance mistake—always seek out the information or advice that you need to make the right decision if you are unsure of something.

Communication Errors

If someone else is helping you maintain your plane, such as an aircraft mechanic, communication is key to avoiding common mistakes. Many maintenance mistakes occur when pilots and aircraft mechanics fail to communicate with each other about what needs to be done and when it should be done. To avoid making these errors, it’s important to work on your communication skills. Speak slowly and clearly, and always summarize the items that need to be addressed at the end of the conversation to make sure you are both on the same page. It may be helpful to write things down for your mechanic if he is working on multiple planes so he doesn’t get confused and forget what needs to be done to which plane.


It’s common to make mistakes when you are attempting to do something while you are tired. If possible, try to put off performing any maintenance on your aircraft until you feel more rested. But, in some situations you may have to perform the maintenance regardless of how tired you may be. If you find that you are having trouble focusing on a task because you’re mentally fatigued, ask someone else to check your work once you have finished so you can identify and correct any mistakes you have made.

Following Someone’s Bad Example

As previously mentioned, some pilots may cut corners when it comes to maintaining their aircrafts. If you are new to the aviation industry, you may look up to experienced pilots and follow their lead, but you shouldn’t start to develop their bad habits. You should be able to identify someone who is setting a bad example so you know not to mimic their behavior.


Stress can interfere with your ability to solve problems and complete tasks. If you are trying to perform maintenance on your aircraft in a short period of time, you may start to feel pressure to get the job done as quickly as possible. It’s important to recognize when you are feeling the effects of stress so you can step away from the task and take a quick break. Give yourself a few moments to calm down and refocus so you don’t make any mistakes because of the pressure you are experiencing.
Now that you know the most common causes of maintenance mistakes, you are ready to properly take care of your plane. One tool that you will need in order to protect your plane is Bright Work Polishes, which are aviation approved polishes that can remove oxidation, corrosion, and water spots from the surface of your aircraft. Don’t make the mistake of using the wrong polish or forgetting to polish your plane at all—choose Bright Work Polishes the next time your aircraft is due for a polish.

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