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2.3 MECHANICAL ENGINEERING
Visual inspection is a fundamental safety critical task in the air transport industry. This study investigates how a visual search strategy with a specific eye scanning pattern can be used to improve the observation of aircraft defects during visual inspection tasks. N=100 aircraft maintenance technicians were recruited and N=48 were allocated to a control condition. This group conducted pre-flight visual inspections on aircraft, using their normal custom and practice. The remaining N=52 experimental group participants were trained to use a specific eye scanning pattern during their pre-flight inspection called systematic visual search. Prior to inspections, the number of observable defects on each aircraft has been ascertained by the researchers. The results demonstrated that the use of systematic visual search increased the mean number of defects observed from circa 36% to circa 56%. The experimental group were then tasked with further visual inspections using systematic visual search in order to investigate the effect of practice and feedback. This resulted in mean defect observation rates increasing to a plateau of circa 70%. The results clearly demonstrate that; by using a set eye scanning pattern as directed by the systematic visual search method, visual inspection reliability can be improved.
Hrymak, V. & Codd, P. (2021). Improving Visual Inspection Reliability in Aircraft Maintenance. ESREL2021: 31st European Safety and Reliability Conference, Angers, France, September 19-23.