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Heartland International Airport’s Decision-Making Essay

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Updated: Dec 28th, 2020


The case explores the impacts of changes in regulations on decision making in the aircraft industry. The changes in regulations particularly affect Maxwell’s team of aircraft inspectors and auditors in the Heartland International Airport. Maxwell manages a fifteen-member team charged with the responsibility of carrying out maintenance checks and auditing to ensure that the hired commercial maintenance crews follow the FAA inspection regulations.

Under express order from the Vice President’s Council of competitiveness through the Department of Transportation, the FAA revises regulations to reduce the frequency of inspection of newer aircraft and aircraft systems. This move provides relief that the aircraft industry has been longing for because it reduces the resources that the airport authorities have been allocating for maintenance purposes.

To Maxwell and his crew, adopting these changes presented many challenges. First, he needed more staff to intensify inspection on older aircraft and could not shift some from the newer planes to the older planes. Secondly, the FAA required a freeze in Maxwell’s staff since a consolidated and streamlined maintenance required a freeze in the crew size. Besides, Maxwell’s team required to be keener in pointing out irregularities like altered log books or wrong procedures, hence giving him mixed pressures.

Issues of the case

The first issue of the case is the impact of change in FAA regulations concerning maintenance checks and audits. Since the FAA has consolidated regulation and streamlined maintenance and audits, it requires that the inspector of maintenance and audit team reduce its size (Scott 1990, p.30). This comes at a time when Maxwell feels that he needs to increase his maintenance and audit team to carry out more maintenance checks on older planes and guard against alterations of logs by the hired commercial maintenance groups. True to his suspicions, Maxwell’s team uncovers slipshod maintenance on smaller aircraft, making him wonder how many have gone unnoticed.

Another issue arises when the FAA grants Maxwell the discretion to direct limited resources to places that need them most. This presents a challenge to him because the limited resources cannot allow him to accomplish everything he wants to. As a result, he may not prevent all mishaps. Finally, the new regulations require that the team does maintenance and audits on engine mounts, labor-intensive processes (Scott 1990, p.31).

The audit itself required two basic disassemblies, one normal and the other for audit. The costs became high for both hired commercial organizations and Maxwell’s company. Because of the labor intensity of these processes coupled with the need to carry out other audits and the small crew size, it became inevitable for Maxwell to reduce the number of audits on engine mounts.

How it relates to the public policy

Public policy is a government decision that always affects the relationship between citizens and the government. Discretion on the other hand refers to “the powers that an individual or organization gets to make decisions that will affect the relationship between citizens and the government” (Gruber 1987, p.132). In this case, the act of the Transport department relaxing regulations on maintenance and audits, causing many issues in the aircraft industry amounts to public policy.

On the issue about maintenance checks on engine mounts being labor-intensive, FAA gives Maxwell a discretion that allows him to freely decide how to allocate the already limited resources and knows when, where, or how to carry out maintenance checks and audits. Since his decision can affect the relationship between the citizens, his organization, and the government, Maxwell’s discretion comes under public policy.

Competing pressures in the case

The first pressure is the issue of hired commercial maintenance crews applying regulations for maintenance on new vehicles to old vehicles. As a result, Maxwell is torn between drawing workers from the new aircraft and utilizing those already at the old aircraft. The second pressure comes out after the implementation of new regulations. During maintenance checks and audits, Maxwell’s team begins to uncover slipshod maintenance on a few of the smaller planes, making him fear that others may have gone unnoticed (Scott 1990, p.31).

The third pressure is the crisis involving the replacement of engine mounts twice for normal and audit checks. Only a small team of maintenance and audit workers is available to do this job which is labor-intensive and time-consuming. The pressure that needs the highest priority is the costly and labor-intensive maintenance crisis. The advantage of accompanying my choice is that it will cut down maintenance costs that the organization incurs during these activities and increase the company’s profits (Bryner 1987, p.113). Besides, the maintenance and auditing workers in the crew will not be overburdened at work. The disadvantage accompanying this choice is that it will add on to the costs of the organization.

Maxwell’s course of action regarding the issue

The course of action that Maxwell should pursue regarding the situation in front of him is to extend the working hours for the team for members to accomplish more tasks. From an ethical perspective, this decision is not right because it would imply that Maxwell is overworking the employees. From an economic perspective, the decision is right because it would help compensate for the gap left by the workers who have left the team (Lipsky 1980, p.123).

From the perspective of the mandates handed down from one’s superiors, this action would be right because Maxwell would only be exercising his powers while trying to solve a problem. Furthermore, the act of an individual failing to use the mandate handed down by his/her superior would imply that he is not interested in solving the problem. Consequently, this action would affect his relationship with his superiors.

Challenges of working with less staff

The reality of working with less staff due to FAA cuts would pose a great challenge to me because the FAA would require that I follow its regulations while the organization requires I perform according to the normal standards even with fewer workers. From the situation that the case presents, it is obvious that working under the FAA’s new regulations would affect performance by workers responsible for engine mount inspection and auditing.

Also, poor performance would imply to the organization that I am failing as the team manager (Burke 1986, p.79). An amicable solution would be handy here. The decision I would adopt is to fight the cuts. To succeed, I would explain my situation to the FAA and show them how the cutting of resources has hindered the performance of my team. My explanation would be aimed at showing how the maintenance and audit on the engine mount are labor-intensive and how cutting down the resources would negatively affect the process.

Plan for reallocating staff and inspectors

For reallocating staff and inspectors, the plan that I have is to consolidate inspections. Since it is evident from this case that the FAA has consolidated maintenance and relaxed its rules, my move would be to consolidate the inspections. As a result, I would make it possible for workers in my team to simultaneously do more multiple inspections at the same time. Consequently, I would be able to cut the costs that the organization initially spent on paying the employees who were initially in charge of these tasks. The overall impact is that the productivity of the team would significantly improve.

Approaching high costs and staff and safety concerns

My approach to the dilemma of new regulations that require replacing the engine mount; a time-consuming and costly process, would be as follows: First, I would attempt to convince FAA that the regulations are injurious to the activities of my team and seek for an exemption. If this approach proves futile, I would appropriately consolidate some of the maintenance services and allocate only the minimum number of workers needed to make the job get done.

I would then take the rest of the workers to the engine mount replacement section to act as reinforcement to those who are already working there; a move that would cater to the extra staff needed. For the high costs, I would look for cheaper alternative ways of carrying out the replacement. For safety concerns, I would ensure that the organization has provided all the necessary safety devices and ensure that all employees are using them. Also, I would subject the employees to training aimed at equipping them with safety skills.


Though sometimes challenging and confusing, wise decision making in an organization is a handy tool that would help achieve success at times of organizational crisis. All it requires is the individual in charge to assess the situation and explore all the possibilities before s/he settles on the most appropriate.

Reference List

Bryner, G.C., 1987. Bureaucratic Discretion: Law and Policy in Federal Regulatory Agencies. New York: Pergamon Press.

Burke, J. P., 1986. Bureaucratic Responsibility. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Gruber, J. E., 1987. Controlling Bureaucracies: Dilemmas of Democratic Governance. Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Lipsky, M., 1980. Street-level Bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the Individual in Public Services. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Scott, P., 2001. Public Administration: Cases in Managerial Role-Playing. London: Longman Publishing Group. Print.

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