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How Does Aptitude Affect the Quality of Aerospace Inspections?

Leveraging the strengths of your team members

Published: Thursday, July 8, 2021 - 12:03

The word “aptitude” is sometimes misused to mean ability or achievement. There is, however, a real and meaningful difference between the three words. Understanding the relationship between aptitude and ability can be a significant factor for your inspection operators.

A basic description of the three terms can be thought of as:
• Aptitude: How quickly or easily you will be able to learn in the future
• Ability: What you are able to demonstrate in the present
• Achievement: What you have accomplished in the past

The nine aptitudes of the GATB

The nine aptitudes, as established by the U.S. Employment Service in its General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB), are purported to be useful for vocational and career assessment and counseling.

GATB aptitudes
Figure 1: The nine aptitudes of the U.S. Employment Service General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB)

1. General intelligence: vocabulary, arithmetic reasoning, three dimensional space
2. Verbal aptitude: vocabulary
3. Numerical: computation, arithmetic reasoning
4. Spatial aptitude relates to understanding geometric forms, as well as understanding and identifying patterns and their meaning
5. Form perception includes inspecting and perceiving details in objects, and making visual comparisons between shapes. Examples: studying an object under a microscope, and quality inspection of goods
6. Clerical perception: name comparison
7. Motor coordinating: mark making
8. Finger dexterity: assemble and disassemble
9. Manual dexterity: place and turn

Aptitude and the aerospace quality inspector

Aerospace quality inspectors ensure that parts and components of aircraft and other aerospace equipment conform to design specifications and meet industry standards. The quality inspection involves visual analysis, using various techniques, of shapes, configurations, and materials. The process involves various disciplines of metrology, nondestructive evaluation, in-process and final product inspection, testing, assembly inspection, and electrical and electronic parts verification.

Data from these inspections are used in every step of design and manufacture of mission-critical components. Thus, we can see that quality inspections in the aerospace industry are also mission critical.

To ensure the highest integrity of inspection data, considering the aptitude of the personnel involved in the inspection work itself could be very useful.

Relation between aptitudes and aerospace quality inspection

From an employer’s perspective

The aptitudes listed above relate to the skills attributes of quality inspection work. Employers would be wise to consider aptitudes linked to quality inspection skills for the personnel involved. Mapping can be done to relate various aptitudes to the quality inspection skills, as shown in figure 2 below.

mapping vocational aptitudes
Figure 2: Mapping aptitudes for aerospace quality inspection

From an employee’s perspective

The bond between aptitudes and aerospace quality inspection can be enhanced by the career path of the individual (figure 3). Different aptitudes can be added at each stage of the career, starting with an apprenticeship in the relevant field. Because aerospace is a safety-critical industry, certifications play an important role, as do recertification and advanced training and education.

stages of career path
Figure 3: Stages of the career path where aptitudes in aerospace quality inspection area can be enhanced

Developing all the aptitudes, in conjunction with technical skills, of inspection technicians can be a daunting task because it involves continuous motivation and resources. But since aerospace inspection is critical, constant support from management is very important. Under the tutelage of leaders in the field, individuals can enhance their personal aptitudes, thus improving quality inspection at the organization level. The identified aptitudes and skills can be honed at every level to achieve total system improvement.


About The Authors

Suneel Kumar’s picture

Suneel Kumar

Suneel Kumar is working in the area inspection, Quality and Metrology for Aero Engine development at GTRE, Bangalore. He has more than 16 years of experience in these fields. He is ASQ certified CQE, IRCA Certified QMS Lead Auditor, CMM certified, ASNT NDT Level II (MT, PT, UT, RT). He has presented various technical papers in conferences conducted by Metrology society of India (MSI), Indian Society for Non-Destructive Testing (ISNT) and Coordinate Metrology Society (CMS) etc.

Sreelal Sreedhar’s picture

Sreelal Sreedhar

Sreelal Sreedhar is a veteran in the field in the design of bearings for gas turbofan engines, project management, configuration management, Quality, NDT and Metrology of Aero engine development. He is currently heading Quality and Reliability Directorate at GTRE, Bangalore. Sreedhar is Indian statistical Institute (ISI) certified SSBB, IRCA Certified QMS (ISO 9001:2015) Lead Auditor, AS9100 Internal Auditor. He is Life member of ISNT, Aeronautical Society of India (AeSI) etc. Sreedhar presented and authored more than twenty-five technical papers at various national and international forums.


Aptitude + Performance ??

Having aptitude is useful, but far froma guarantee of performance.

Yes rightly said sir.

Yes rightly said sir. Aptitude and performance should go in hand and hand with the support and appreciation from the management to work towards improvements.