Missing in action

aircraft maintenance and the recent ‘HRM in the airlines’ literature

Ian Hampson, Anne Junor, Sarah Gregson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)


Several recent publications and a special issue of the International Journal of Human Resource Management have addressed airline employment relations since deregulation. In these, the crucial role of aircraft maintenance is largely unexamined. Human Resource Management (HRM) prescriptions for airline success, particularly a ‘commitment’ model entailing increased trust and employee initiative, may be in tension with the heavily regulated nature of the aircraft maintenance labour process. The airline HRM literature with its emphasis on discretion-based definitions of skill sits uneasily beside a safety literature that commonly stresses procedural compliance. Safe aircraft maintenance depends on appropriate work organisation, along with utilisation and development of maintenance workers' skills and recognition of their collective voice. Proposals to reshape or bypass any of these in the interest of cost containment call for cautious evaluation. Although addressing international debates, we examine these issues in the Australian context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2561-2575
Number of pages15
JournalThe International Journal of Human Resource Management
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • airline deregulation
  • aviation safety
  • human factors
  • maintenance and repair
  • work organisation

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