For the uninitiated I should like to point out that working on, near or around aeroplanes is dangerous.
As I am fond of telling the participants on my courses the statistics do not support a long and healthy life.
Ground incidents are reported to be costing commercial airlines in the region of USD10 Billion a year.
We have no concept of what a ‘Billion’ is. We will, for the moment anyway, stick with the devalued American ‘Billion’ that is One Thousand Million. A British Billion is One Million Million.
It is impossible to imagine one billion. Our brains just will not encompass such a number. We think we know but we do not.
In fact, our brains have problems with any number greater than, say, seven!
When the Americans announced that there was trade deficit of three trillion dollars—yes, dear heart, three trillion dollars, everybody tutted and shook their heads.
If they had said that there was a trade deficit of one hundred and forty five dollars and ninety cents there would have been uproar. Why? Because we can imagine smaller numbers; we know what they will buy; we are accustomed to smaller numbers.
Three Trillion? No chance.
Humour me, do a small exercise. Get your mobile ‘phone or iPad—or what you will, out and tell me what you were doing one billion seconds ago.
Now lets go back to the original thought.
Ground incidents are said to be costing Ten Billion US Dollars EVERY YEAR!
The figure rises.
Every single incident is avoidable. Every single incident is the result of someone:
Thinking that they know what they are doing,
Thinking someone else knows what they are doing,
Everybody has had training. Every single person that goes near an aeroplane has had some instruction about safety.
Statistics may be scoffed at but they do not lie. We know, for example, that people get sucked into jet intakes. They die. Yes, we have all heard the stories—maybe even seen the video where a guy goes down an intake and survives. A rarity.
Every one else dies.
When you go down a jet intake the depression that was there already now gets worse because your body is creating an obstruction to the airflow. The engine is still ‘sucking’ for all it is worth.
Your lungs will empty and then they will try to rip out of your body resulting in your death by drowning—in your own blood. If you are lucky the engine will chop you into tiny pieces
Yes, it is sickening. It is extremely unpleasant but it is a fact. It is what happens if you stop thinking for a moment. This guy was highly experienced; he was 64.
How many people get struck by propellers, tail rotors on helicopters, main rotors, ground support vehicles?
The cost in human terms is tragic. The friends and family now enter a period of great sadness known as ‘mourning’; Husband, Dad, Friend is gone.
We have said that these are incidents but we know that there is a difference between incidents and accidents.
It is the combination of these that costs so much.
We have rules, regulations, laws, checklists and training for a reason.
The reason is to keep you safe.
What are my ‘Aviation Maintenance Rules’?
Rule 1: Look after yourself
Rule 2: Look after your colleague(s)
Rule 3: Look after the equipment.
Observe that Rule 1 is ALWAYS ‘Look After Yourself’. You are in the best position to do that. Don’t just ‘look’ but ‘see’. Don’t just ‘hear’ but ‘listen’. Don’t assume—THINK.
Rule 2 is not to look after your friends because often you will work with people you don’t like. One guy said to me, “You don’t like me very much, do you?”
I told him that he was wrong. I didn’t like him at all.
But he is still a colleague! One day you may need him to look after you.
Alarmingly, you will work with people who do not like you. No, really. No matter how likeable you think you are, somebody out there dislikes you with a passion.
Rule 3 means that you keep the equipment serviceable and safe. Repairs or replacements are costly and that can mean that there is no pay rise this year—clearly contravening Rule 1!!