As part of the airworthiness requirements, an aircraft cannot be dispatched with an inoperative equipment or system unless this is allowed by the Minimum Equipment List (MEL) under any applicable conditions. Commonly, the MEL mirrors the Master MEL (MMEL), which is developed by the manufacturer and approved by the regulator. However, the increasing complexity of aircraft systems and the diversity of operational requirements, environmental conditions, fleet configuration, etc. necessitates a tailored approach to developing the MEL. While it is the responsibility of every aircraft operator to ensure the airworthiness of their aircraft, regulators are also required to publish guidelines to help operators develop their MELs. Currently, there is no approved standard to develop a MEL, and this poses a challenge to both aviation regulators and aircraft operators. This paper reviews current MEL literature, standards and processes as well as MEL related accidents/incidents to offer an overview of the present state of the MEL development and use and reinstate the need for a systematic approach. Furthermore, this paper exposes the paucity of MEL related literature and the ambiguity in MEL regulations. In addition, it was found that inadequate training and guidance on the development and use of MEL as well as lack of prior experience in airworthiness topics can lead to mismanagement and misapplication of the MEL. Considering the challenges outlined above, this study proposes the combination of system engineering and socio-technical system approaches for the development of a MEL.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited