Human Factors

Topics: Human factors, Ergonomics, Human reliability Pages: 17 (4246 words) Published: February 23, 2012
Jamie D Hart
Aviation safety

Human Factors in Aviation

Aviation as a whole has many problems that effect day to day operations. From bad

maintaince practices, accidents, incidents and faulty training and SOPs. In the past it was

said to be the fault of the machine. Now with inspecting and research it has been

established that it is more due to human error than that of the machine. Since the end of

WWII human factors issues have become a huge concern in aviation safety. It’s

estimated that anywhere between 90% to 95% of aviation accidents and incidents are

caused by human factors. Human factors is a all encompassing effort to compile data

about human capabilities and limitations and apply that data to equipment, systems,

software, facilities, procedures, jobs, environments, training, staffing, and personnel

management to produce safe comfortable, ergonomic and effective human performance.

The FAA is currently making an effort to integrate human factors into all aspects of aviation

where safety is a major concern. As a result the FAA issued FAA order 9550.8 which is a human

factors policy that states the following: Human factors shall be systematically integrated into the

planning and execution of the functions of all FAA elements and activities associated with

system acquisitions and system operations. FAA endeavors shall emphasize human factors

considerations to enhance system performance and capitalize upon the relative strengths of

people and machines. These considerations shall be integrated at the earliest phases of FAA

projects. The FAA has realized that when most individuals think of a system or project, they

usually consider only the tangibles such as hardware, software and equipment. Most individuals

fail to think about the end user of the product, the human being. Therefore during systems

designing consideration for different aptitudes and abilities are never considered. The FAA’s

combating this predominant thought pattern by the introduction of what is known as “Total

System Performance”. Total System Performance is a measure of probability. The probability

that the total system will perform correctly, when it is available, is the probability that the

hardware/software will perform correctly, times the probability that the operating environment

will not degrade the system operation, times the probability that the user will perform will

perform correctly. It’s been discovered that a system can work perfectly in a test environment,

demonstration site or laboratory and then not perform as well once the human being enters the

loop as the operator. In order to compensate for this fact, human factors must be accounted for

and integrated into new systems. By doing so there will be increased performance accuracy,

decreased performance time and enhanced safety. FAA research has indicated that designing

systems to improve human performance is cost effective and safe when done early in the

developmental stages of a project. Some potential human factors to consider during research

and development stages are functional design, safety and health, work space, display and

controls, information requirements, display presentation, visual/aural alerts, communications,

anthropometrics and environment. With repetition and good training programs a lot of

these occurrences can be at least minimized. The strange thing is that when companies do cut

backs usually the first thing to go is the training programs. A lot of companies look at this as and

added cost that is not necessary but on the contrary it is a vital part to keep employees up to

date and current which will allow them make less mistakes A lot of aviation services put safety...
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