Discussion: Problem-Solving Process Peers Review 3

Provide a classmate review on their discussion topic :

Reflect on your own personal experiences and discuss the following:

Present a practical example of a time when you applied a process for problem solving. How did that process differ from the Problem-Solving Process described in the primer?

Describe the challenges of applying a process for problem-solving in a practice aviation or aerospace organization.

Finally, reflect on the task you completed for this week. How difficult was it to identify the problem, purpose, and research question from your article? What lessons learned do you have from the task that could improve the efficiency of reviewing research articles?



Classmate post that you need to post comment/ review on:

While working as an Aviation Safety Officer in one of my former squadrons, we experienced multiple aircraft mishaps of varying degrees of severity, all of which identified procedural human error as a causal factor due to excessive fatigue in maintenance personnel.  As the aviators in this class are well aware, all military services and commercial carriers adhere to strict and similar Crew Rest guidance for aircrew, which is mandated down time between flight duty periods to recover.  At the time, our squadron operated at the maximum limits permitted by our NATOPS General Flight and Operating Instructions, which required 8 hours opportunity for rest every 24 hours, a maximum duty period of 18 hours, and 15 hours of rest if this limit was exceeded.  Upon investigation of our maintenance department, we determined that maintenance leadership and personnel had no guidance whatsoever to limit duty periods or mitigate fatigue, and in each mishap the personnel in question had worked well beyond the limits for aircrew.  The excuse given was simple: maintainers weren’t aircrew, so crew rest did not apply.

            Coincidentally, we located the definition for aircrew in the glossary of our current NATOPS at that time, which explicitly defined aircrew as persons who work on or perform aircraft maintenance.  From here, we simply drafted a written policy that reiterated that the maintenance department had to follow the rules.  This problem-solving process appeared fairly linear and common sense-based, and conveniently written guidance already existed which held an answer to our problem.  However, even though we did not deliberately plan each step, the process we followed as a safety department actually mirrored the ERO Problem-Solving Process fairly closely.

  1. Identify the Problem: Excess mishaps were occurring due to maintainer fatigue.
  2. State Goals: Generate policy and practices to mitigate maintainer fatigue.
  3. State Research Question: Will mishaps rates decrease if maintenance personnel follow the same limits as aircrew?
  4. Plan Data Collection/Analysis: Not conducted, however we already had a significant increase in mishap rates, and concluded that violation of fatigue limits was a contributing factor.
  5. Review Literature: OPNAV 3710 contained guidance for aircrew crew rest, and defined maintainers as aircrew.
  6. Execute a Plan: We enacted a working hours policy for maintenance personnel in our squadron.
  7. Evaluate Results: Not formally conducted, however mishaps decreased!
  8. Draw Conclusions/Recommendations: Again, not formally conducted, but fairly obvious.
  9. Re-evaluate: The success of the policy resulted in its permanent adoption/continued practice.

        In my opinion, the most significant challenge in the application of a problem-solving process in an aviation organization is the availability of data. I n my example, many required items for the problem-solving process were readily available with little or no work on the part of our research team.  In any other potential aviation problem, complex data collection, experimental designs, and quantitative or qualitative analysis measures may need to be planned and executed, which can take considerable time, manpower and resources.  Fixing a problem by following existing written guidance or executing procedures that have been developed over years of practice and research is simple.  Obtaining relevant data to solve your problem through appropriate research methods and statistical analysis is a much longer and more costly process.

            For my chosen article, Wilson et al. (2019) provided an exceptionally well-structured background, abstract, and problem statement to describe the rationale for testing the efficacy of headset-mounted heart rate monitoring equipment for pilot fatigue monitoring.  The abstract and literature review clearly identified the problem (excess fatigue-related mishaps), stated the goal of the study (develop fatigue-monitoring technology), and laid out the logic behind the research question: a comparison of ECG and PPG readings, based on former research which links ECG to fatigue.  Furthermore, the conclusion section of the article expanded on the purpose in greater detail, describing the utility and applications of the fatigue-monitoring headset.

            From this exercise, I noticed that the abstract, literature review, and conclusion held the simplest keys to reformatting the study in the problem-solving rubric.  I was lucky in my selection – I have read many articles that are not as concise with their stated goals.  While the required information should be included in these sections of a general research article format, it can certainly be challenging to narrow down an entire page or pages of scholarly writing into a concise, clear purpose statement, goal, and research question.


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