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Virgin Australia 737s at Sydney Airport

Papers and Presentations

‘Last Diamond’, An Appeal for Holistic Regulatory Leadership

This was the Plantema Memorial Lecture (the keynote address) I presented at the 30th Symposium of the International Committee on Aeronautical Fatigue and Structural Integrity (ICAF), in Kraków, Poland, on 5 June 2019.

Holistic Standards for Holistic Projects

Presented at the 18th Annual Workshop on the Holistic Structural Integrity Process (HOLSIP), Snowbird UT, USA, 13 February 2019.

New structural inspection technologies: how do we assure safety without stifling innovation?

My introduction to a workshop I moderated for the International Federation of Airworthiness (IFA) at Emirates Engineering, Dubai, UAE, 28 November 2018. A panel of regulatory and industry experts discussed the approval of new inspection technologies for aircraft structure, especially camera-equipped robots and drones.

Innovative Maintenance: Managing structural risks safely and efficiently

Presented at the IFA’s Conference, ‘Best Practices in Safety Risk Management’, Emirates Engineering, Dubai, UAE, 27 November 2018. Could knowing the basics of ‘damage tolerance analysis’ help you plan your aircraft’s maintenance more safely and efficiently?

HOLSIP: SMS for your ASIP?

Presented at the 17th Annual Workshop on the Holistic Structural Integrity Process (HOLSIP), Snowbird UT, USA, 5 February 2018. Could Safety Management Systems (SMS) encourage more holistic structural integrity analysis?

Seven Deadly Hazards: Does your SMS address them?

Presented at the annual Forum of the International Federation of Airworthiness (IFA) at Hong Kong on 15 November 2017. It warns of structural maintenance and other hazards that have tripped others.

Fundamentals of Aircraft Fatigue

Presented at the Seminar on Aircraft Inspection and Maintenance run by the National Aerospace NDT Board of Australia at Coogee, NSW, on 25 November 2017.

Defining HOLSIP Holistically

Presented at the 16th Annual Workshop on the Holistic Structural Integrity Process (HOLSIP), Snowbird UT, USA, 6 February 2017.  It continues the efforts to define HOLSIP.

ATSB Case Studies – ASI Lessons for Defence

Presented at the Australian Defence Force Aircraft Structural Integrity Symposium on 17 November 2016, at the Defence Science and Technology Group facility at Fishermans Bend, Melbourne, Australia.  It is about lessons from reports by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) on two tragic fatal crashes in Australia in 2013.  Both involved structural failure caused by metal fatigue.

Is Outcome Based Regulation good for aircraft structural maintenance?

Presented at the Aviation Law Conference, Canberra, Australia, 6 May 2016.  The answer to the title’s question depends on whether all parties have the right knowledge.  Check out the presentation to learn what is the ‘right knowledge’ for aircraft structural maintenance, and why, surprisingly, many of those with important regulatory roles don’t have it, and how it could affect compliance, enforcement and safety.  It advises lawyers on choosing the right type of ‘engineer’ for maintenance-related legal matters.

Designer’s Secrets Maintainers Should Know (for Designers)

Presented at the 15th Annual Workshop on the Holistic Structural Integrity Process (HOLSIP), Snowbird UT, USA, 24 February 2016.  Similar to the presentation below, but for designers instead of maintainers.

Designer’s Secrets Maintainers Should Know (for Maintainers)

Presented at the Forum of the International Federation of Airworthiness (IFA), Hong Kong, 4 November 2015.  Five designer’s secrets to help maintainers improve safety and economy.

The Rules – HOLSIP’s friend or foe?

Presented at the 14th International Workshop on the Holistic Structural Integrity Process (HOLSIP), Snowbird UT, USA, 26 February 2015.  It looks at the international civil and military airworthiness rules, and their importance to improving aviation safety by HOLSIP.

Two Recent Fatals in Oz – Could HOLSIP have helped?

Presented at the 14th International Workshop on the Holistic Structural Integrity Process (HOLSIP), Snowbird UT, USA, 25 February 2015 (USAF ‘ASIP Day’).  It looks at two fatal airframe failures in Australia, in 2013, and asks if HOLSIP could have helped.

‘Nil Findings’ – Old traps for new maintainers

Even new-technology aircraft still need humans for their maintenance.  This presentation will introduce you to three ‘illusions’ that can still easily trap maintainers, whether new or experienced.  Despite the illusions being enticing, common and dangerous, you rarely hear about them, even in the maintenance human factors fraternity.  This presentation is a ‘must’ for anyone who plans or approves maintenance for an airline, maintenance organisation or authority, as well as for those on the tools.  Presented at a forum hosted by the International Federation of Airworthiness (IFA) and the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) of the United Arab Emirates, which was held at the Emirates Engineering Facility, Dubai, from 17-18 September 2014.  The forum’s theme was: “Maintaining Airworthiness Standards and Investing in the Most Important Asset, ‘The Human Element’’.

Corrosion: Too holy for HOLSIP?

In February 2014, this was the question I asked the HOLSIP (Holistic Structural Integrity Program) Workshop in the USA to discuss on their USAF ASIP Day.  If we want more engineers to manage corrosion holistically with other structural integrity threats, such as fatigue, we must first understand why most don’t.  Prominent are human factors.

‘New Tricks’ – Understanding Approved Data for NDT

Who can approve maintenance data for non-destructive testing (NDT) under the Civil Aviation Regulations 1988?  What is the standard?  What ‘new tricks’ could help inspectors work better with – and resist pressure from – aeronautical engineers?  Presented at the Quality and Testing in Aircraft Maintenance Seminar, Sydney, November 2012.

The Human Element in Ageing Aircraft Safety

Not a formal paper, but a written version of a presentation to Safeskies 2011, Canberra, Australia, October 2011.  Now that the engineering is mature, the main challenge for ageing aircraft safety is the human element.  Discusses clarity, simplicity and trickery.

Sticks and Stones

Appeals for care with the language of aeronautical fatigue.  Communication is as important as calculation.  Bad words undo good engineering.  It gives examples (including twelve troublesome words), suggests causes (including pride and insecurity), and offers help (including Plain English and Simplified Technical English).  Presented at the 26th Symposium of the International Committee on Aeronautical Fatigue, Montreal, Canada, June 2011.

Nil Findings

A presentation on three nasty but neglected illusions of structural inspection programs.  Highlights the need for doers and designers of maintenance to work together.  Presented at the FAA Symposium on Human Factors for Maintenance and Ramp Safety, September, 2009, San Diego, CA, USA.

First Diamond

‘Damage tolerance’ for the structural honeymoon.  We could set the threshold for structural inspections more simply and rationally if we used ‘damage tolerance’ the same way we do for the repeat interval.  Presented at the 25th Symposium of the International Committee on Aeronautical Fatigue, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, May 2009.

A Collective Approach to Aircraft Structural Maintenance Programs

Shows how three divisions in the way we design and approve structural maintenance programs affect safety and economy.  Offers suggestions for airworthiness authorities, aircraft manufacturers and airlines.  Presented at the joint meeting of the Flight Safety Foundation’s 61st annual International Air Safety Seminar, the International Federation of Airworthiness’ 38th International Conference, and the International Air Transport Association, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, October 2008.

Rusty Diamond

Could ‘damage tolerance’ be as useful for corrosion as it is for fatigue?  Presented at the 24th Symposium of the International Committee on Aeronautical Fatigue, Naples, Italy, May 2007.

Rough Diamond

Reviews whether ‘damage tolerance’ is delivering the safety envisioned when it became the preferred fatigue management method for large civil airliners.  Written with Bob Eastin from the United States Federal Aviation Administration.  Presented at the 23rd Symposium of the International Committee on Aeronautical Fatigue, Hamburg, Germany, June 2005.

Big Challenges for Little Airliners

Looks at several challenges facing the structural safety of little airliners in Australia. Considers solutions for type certificate holders, modifiers, repairers and maintenance programs.  Presented at the 10th Australian International Aerospace Congress, Brisbane, Australia, July 2003.

Gnats and Camels

Reviews thirty years of regulating structural fatigue in light aircraft from an Australian perspective. Looks at the history and effectiveness of FAR 23.572. Suggests improvements.  Presented at the 20th Symposium of the International Committee on Aeronautical Fatigue, Bellevue, Washington, USA, July 1999.

The Aero Commander Chronicle

The service history of the Aero Commander light twins teaches a hard lesson in the theory and practice of fatigue control. Presented at the 18th Symposium of the International Committee on Aeronautical Fatigue, Melbourne, Australia, May 1995.

Magazine and Newspaper Articles

Australian Flying, July-August 2009

Steve Hitchen includes me in his report on issues facing Australia’s ageing general aviation fleet.

Australian Aeronautics, December 2006

The Royal Aeronautical Society reprints ‘Rough Diamond’ in their annual journal.

Air Safety Week, October 2005

A front-page review of ‘Rough Diamond’.

Flight Safety Australia, September 1996

My article about assessing structural repairs for their ‘damage tolerance’.

CASA’s Aviation Bulletin, April 1993

My article on metal fatigue and its management, for aircraft owners and operators.

Australian Aviation, November 1986

A reprint of my Canberra Times article on the role of the airworthiness engineer.

Canberra Times, October 1985

My short article on the role of the airworthiness engineer, for Engineer’s Week.


If you would like to comment on any of my papers or presentations, please leave your feedback in the form at the bottom of this page. I welcome your feedback because I am still learning!

6 thoughts on “Technical

  1. Hi Steve,
    I have been reading your articles and papers for years and they are an extremely valuable resource on the nitty-gritty of aircraft structural safety. Your Aero Commander Chronicle is a classic. Keep up the good work.
    Andries Visser
    Denel Aerostructures

    • Dear Andries

      Thanks for your encouragement. It is always satisfying, as you know, to hear that your work has helped someone.

      All the best for your work at Denel Aerostructures.



  2. Hello
    I came across your web page by googling. I downloaded and read a few of your papers. Absolutely great! Being in fixed and rotary wing maintenance and continuing airworthiness (industry and CAA) I can only agree with your opinions, suggestions and recommendations. Depending on in which sector of civil aviation one is employed, the horizon of regulations, standards and recommendations is “as clear as mud”. No wonder each answer to a question in our industry begins with “It depends…” because no one really has a clear overview of all the issues which have to be covered.
    Keep up the good work
    Markus Willisch / Switzerland

    • Dear Markus

      Thanks for your encouragement. I am glad you found my web site and downloaded some papers. I hope you continue to find them helpful. If you find anything that you do disagree with, please let me know. Happy to discuss. I am still learning!

      Keep up the good work in beautiful Switzerland!



  3. Steve,
    I have previously read The Aero Commander Chronicle and read it again yesterday. IT IS A CLASSIC WORK. Thank you for your years of dedication and efforts towards improving structural integrity.

  4. Steve

    I appreciate the words of wisdom on the appropriateness of escalations of inspections in your paper “A Collective Approach to Aircraft Structural Maintenance Programs”.
    From a broader aspect your words of wisdom and practical advice have always stood me in good stead when trying to convey a particular message to both audiences that are willing to learn and those who are not so willing often converting the latter

    Thanks for a well written easy to read documents.

I welcome your feedback