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Human Factors in Aviation for Pilots

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Human Resources
Wordcount: 2681 words Published: 29th Sep 2017

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Human Factors in Aviation for Pilots


The term “human factor” belongs to the wide range of matters affecting how people achieve tasks in their non-work and work environments. The commercial aviation industry has recognized that human error causes most aviation incidents and accidents rather than mechanical failure. If interpreted intently, human factors are often deemed synonymous with maintenance resource management (MRM) or crew resource management (CRM). Human factors involve collecting information about human limitations, ability and other qualities and applying it to machines, tools, tasks, systems, environments and jobs to produce comfortable, safe and effective human use. Human factors are devoted to better perception of how humans can most efficiently and safely be combined with technology. That perception is then translated into training, design, procedures, or policies to help humans work better. (GRAEBER, 2014)

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In spite of rapid gains in technology, humans are ultimately accountable for guaranteeing the safety and success of the aviation industry. They must continue to be flexible, knowledgeable, efficient, and dedicated while exercising good judgment. In the meantime, the industry continues to make main investments in equipment, training, and systems that have a long-standing implication. Human factors cover the knowledge of comprehending the human capabilities, the application of this knowledge to the development, design and exploitation of systems and services, and the art of guaranteeing successful application of human factor values into the maintenance working environment. Furthermore, human factors experts participate in examining operational safety and developing tools and methods to help operator better handle human error. These duties require the experts to work closely with safety experts, engineers, training and test pilots, mechanics and cabin crews to efficiently integrate human factors in the designing of airplanes.

Human Factors in the Ground Environment

Before understanding the importance of human factors we must know the term “PEAR”. It reminds the four important facts for human factor programs: People, Environment, Actions and Resources. The Aircraft Electronics Association accepts PEAR as an outstanding way to recall key concerns for a human factors program.

There are as a minimum of two environments in aviation maintenance; physical work place and organizational environment. There is the physical work place in the hanger, on the ramp or in the shop while organizational environment exist within the company. A human factor should pay attention to both environments.

The physical environment includes ranges of humidity, temperature, lightening, cleanliness, noise control, and workplace design. Companies must accept these conditions and collaborate with the workforce to either change or accommodate the physical environment. It takes a cooperate assurance to address the physical environment. This physical workplace covers the topic “Resources” of PEAR when it comes to providing coolers, portable heaters, clothing, lightening and task design and workplace.

The second environment is organizational one. The significant factors in an organizational environment are usually related to communication, cooperation, mutual respect, shared values of the company, and their culture. An excellent organizational environment is progressed with communication, leadership and shared goals associated with profitability, safety and other key factors. The best companies support and guide their people and promote a culture of safety. We consider environmental matters as critical as other features in PEAR. . (Johnson, 2007)

Aviation safety relies deeply on maintenance. When it is not done properly, it contributes to a major proportion of aviation incidents and accidents. Some examples poor maintenance are missing parts, parts installed incorrectly, and required checks not being performed. The errors of an aviation maintenance technician (AMT) can be more challenging to detect as compared with other threats to aviation safety. A lot of times, these errors are present but not visible and have possibility to remain hidden, affecting the harmless operation of aircraft for larger period of time. AMT’s tackled with many human factors unique within aviation. Most of the time, they are working in the early morning or in evening hours, in restrained spaces, and in mixture of unfavorable humidity/temperature conditions. The work can be physically tiring; it also needs attention to detail. AMTs usually spend more time on preparing for a job than actually practicing it out. Key element of all maintenance work is a proper documentation, and AMTs usually spend more time revising maintenance logs than they do presenting the work.

Mechanical components in aircraft maintenance engineering have boundaries; technicians also have some limitations and limited capabilities when we look at the maintenance engineering system. For example, rivets used to fasten aluminum skin to fuselage that can bear forces acting to pull them apart. These rivets will ultimately fail if sufficient force is applied to them. The exact range of human limitations and capabilities are not clear as the performance range of electrical or mechanical components but the same rules apply in that human functions which is likely to damage and ultimately fail under certain conditions like stress, tensions etc.

Human factors understanding can lead to enhanced quality, an environment that guarantees continuing aircraft and worker safety and a more responsible and involved work force. More precisely, the reduction of minor mistakes can provide appreciable benefits including fewer missed deadlines, cost reductions, reduction in injuries, reduction in maintenance errors and also reduction in warranty claims.

Human factors in the Airborne Environment (flight desk, cockpit, formation)

Men already learn how to construct wings or airplanes, which when propelled through the air at maximum speed, will not only withstand the weight of the engine, but also of the wings themselves, and of the engineer as well. Men also learn how to build screws of adequate power and lightness to drive these airplanes at sustaining speed. Inability to steer and balance still become challenging for students and have flying problems. When this feature has been controlled, the era of flying machines will have reached, for other problems are of lesser importance. (Kantowitz, 2011)

Working with an aircraft in the Performance Based Airspace (PBA) will be extra challenging for the flight crews who have only worked in controlled airspace. But in real, only somewhat more challenging rules like Visual Flight Rule (VFR) are applied. The flight crew will have to handle more tasks, an arrival of basic separation responsibilities, have complete responsibility for all forms of situational awareness like mode awareness and traffic, possible greater workload under several conditions like severe weathers. To evaluate the necessary information needs of the flight crew to achieve the airborne self-separation task and to regulate the level of automation, it will be essential to study the following sub tasks; Conflict detection; Conflict privations; Traffic monitoring; Re-planning; Conflict resolution; Inter-traffic/traffic-FOC communication.

It becomes clear that today’s conventional airline operations possible do not offer the information to examine the above tasks. It is, though, assumed that the flight crew will demand the high quality ergonomically planned navigation and traffic information and in various circumstances may require to be aided by some level of automation and maybe through some decision support tools. Presently flight crews use the TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System) instead of ATC (Air Traffic Control) and to help them attain a minimum level of traffic situational awareness. But in today’s operational environment, TCAS information will not be enough. A CDTI (Cockpit Display of Traffic Information) system will possibly be a better system to help the aircrew to maintain and develop a high level of traffic situational awareness by offering basic data about speed, position and provide information of future state of aircraft in the neighborhood. The important requirement will possibly be to aid the crew in the detection, prevention and resolution of an important conflict. In this area, it is assumed that the aircrew will be in a controlling position. The revealing of imminent collisions will be automated and will be implemented in the background. The crew will be warned in situation of imminent conflicts along with numerous solution strategies, which are supposed to be filtered and sorted for the crew by using various criteria (e.g., time/fuel optimization, wind and weather criteria, passenger comfort, etc.) to elect for the best solution in the given situation. The aircrew will have the probability to modify different factors of the maneuver (e.g. waypoints, aircraft speed, altitude) according to their requirements and own judgment of the situation. (International, 2007)


One of the major risks a pilot faced is the unawareness of existing problem. This situation indicated as a loss of situational awareness. Loss of situation awareness is like danger is everywhere and you are pleasingly unaware of it. Loss of situational awareness can be initiated by somewhat as simple as inattention. A pilot is unaware of the mid-air collision curse because he or she hasn’t been concentrating in maintaining a traffic watch. A pilot is not aware of refueling of the piston engine aircraft that either jet fuel has been loaded into fuel tanks or not. A pilot is careless during the pre-flight examination that a poor gas seal and heavy rains put hazardous quantity of water in the fuel tanks. A pilot must have situational awareness to tackle any of the above dangerous situations effectively and efficiently. A pilot initially creates situational awareness through applied crew management skills and through trainings. Situational awareness also includes establishing targets and goals for a particular flight. Once established, it can be maintained by examining of clues to its possible loss.

False assumptions are also cause of flight crews’ problems. It can include great expectations, problematic fixations, ignoring bad news, and intense situation of pilots in case of stress. These problems must be reducing to improve environments of aircraft organization.

Cockpit stress management plays an important role in airborne environment. In case of any emergency, pilot must be clam, think for alternatives, choose one and then act on it. A pilot must avoid fear and panicking as they are our greatest enemies during emergencies. Don’t wait to announce any emergency until it’s too late for you to handle the situation. A pilot must immediately ask ATC for help. Lots of ground resources can be available for help. If any error occurs because of a pilot, he must forget about that and concentrate on the job at hands. A focus is must, think of an alternative plan and work on it immediately.

Use of checklists can prevent as much as 70% of all the accidents which occur because of pilot primary errors. Cockpit stress management procedure can also be accomplished by using checklists instead of relying on memory of pilots only.

Hypoxia is a deceptive problem in aviation. It occurs when body cell receives very less oxygen because of altitudes. Its consequences creep up on pilots without their realizing it. A pilot must be aware of how to handle this situation.

The way of pilot to perform their job, the manner they cooperate with other crew members, the manner in which they use all available resources and many other details related to human presentation, will have deep effect on the manner in which they fly the airplane. A pilot must undergo a proper professional training in the area of human factors to improve their performance in all the aspects.

Crew co-ordinations must be efficient and the monitoring and assignments of duties of all assigned crewmember must perform their jobs effectively. Communications occur between crewmembers related to flying tasks must not be vague, indefinite or unclear.


Human factors and its engineering feature involve the usage of knowledge about human limitations and capabilities to design a technological system. Human factor engineering also relates to personnel selection, training, procedures and many others.

Humans can also fail to function appropriately in various conditions. Human can face physical fatigue, affected by the cold, can break bones in accidents in workshops etc. Mentally humans can make mistakes, have restrained powers, and can make poor judgments due to lack of knowledge and skills. Furthermore, human performance is also influenced by emotional and social factors. Therefore proper training of aircraft maintenance technicians is required to full all the features of human factors. The aircraft maintenance technicians are the main part of the maintenance system. It is thus very necessary to have knowledge of mental processes function and different parts of body and also the understanding of performance limitations that can affect the work.

An essential part of the operational efficiency is continues improvement in flight crew training and in designs and procedures. Study of commercial airplane and human performance interfaces leads to reduce accidents and at the end increases flight safety.

The flight deck human factors are researched which include measurement of flight performance and risk, impact of advance technologies, assessing controller pilot information transfer, determining the consciences of stressors on human performance, recognizing human factors included in incidents and accidents, analyzing the effects of tasks design on pilot performance.

Human resources perform aerospace research on organizational and individual issues related to human factors. Research areas included designing of cockpit management programs, effective use of trainings related to human factors, recognition of human factors linked with maintenance- related aviation incidents and accidents and with aircrew


GRAEBER, C. (2014). AERO 8. Retrieved from Boeing: http://www.boeing.com/commercial/aeromagazine/aero_08/human_story.html

International, H. (2007, september). Human Factors in Autonomous Aircraft Operations. Retrieved from http://ifly.nlr.nl/documents/P2.1 iFly_EAAP08_nf.pdf

Johnson, D. W. (2007, april). A Model to Explain Human Factors. Retrieved from Industry: http://www.skybrary.aero/bookshelf/books/1482.pdf

Kantowitz, B. H. (2011). Hand Book Aviation Human Factors. Retrieved from http://theblackswaninvestmentclub.com/flight_manuals/human factors.pdf

Parry, D. L. (2014). HUMAN FACTORS AND PILOT DECISION-MAKING. Retrieved from http://www.langleyflyingschool.com/Pages/CPGS Pilot Decision Making.html#Human Factors and Pilot Error


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