Human Factors - Aeronautical Decision Making

Why are human conditions, such as fatigue, complacency and stress, so important in aviation? These conditions, along with many others, are called human factors. Human factors directly cause or contribute to many aviation accidents and have been documented as a primary contributor to more than 70 percent of aircraft accidents.

Typically, human factor incidents/accidents are associated with flight operations but recently have also become a major concern in aviation maintenance and air traffic management as well. [Figure] Over the past several years, the FAA has made the study and research of human factors a top priority by working closely with engineers, pilots, mechanics, and ATC to apply the latest knowledge about human factors in an effort to help operators and maintainers improve safety and efficiency in their daily operations.

Aeronautical Decision Making
Human factors effects pilots, aviation maintenance technicians (AMTs) and air traffic control (ATC)

Human factors science, or human factors technologies, is a multidisciplinary field incorporating contributions from psychology, engineering, industrial design, statistics, operations research, and anthropometry. It is a term that covers the science of understanding the properties of human capability, the application of this understanding to the design, development and deployment of systems and services, and the art of ensuring successful application of human factor principles into all aspects of aviation to include pilots, ATC, and aviation maintenance. Human factors is often considered synonymous with CRM or maintenance resource management (MRM) but is really much broader in both its knowledge base and scope. Human factors involves gathering research specific to certain situations (i.e., flight, maintenance, stress levels, knowledge) about human abilities, limitations, and other characteristics and applying it to tool design, machines, systems, tasks, jobs, and environments to produce safe, comfortable, and effective human use. The entire aviation community benefits greatly from human factors research and development as it helps better understand how humans can most safely and efficiently perform their jobs and improve the tools and systems in which they interact.

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