Human Factors in Flight
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Human Factors in Flight

Frank H. Hawkins, Harry W. Orlady, Harry W. Orlady

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eBook - ePub

Human Factors in Flight

Frank H. Hawkins, Harry W. Orlady, Harry W. Orlady

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The late Captain Frank H Hawkins FRAes, M Phil, was Human Factors Consultant to KLM, for whom he had flown for over 30 years as line captain and R & D pilot, designing the flight decks for all KLM aircraft from the Viscount to the Boeing 747. In this period he developed and applied his specialization in Human Factors. His perception of lack of knowledge of Human Factors and its disastrous consequences led him to initiate both an annual course on Human Factors in Transport Aircraft Operation at Loughborough and Aston Universities, and the KLM Human Factors Awareness Course (KHUFAC). A consultant member of SAE S-7 committee, he was also a member of the Human Factors Society and a Liveryman of the Guild of Air Pilots. He was keynote speaker at the ICAO Human Factors Seminar held in St Petersburg, Russia in April 1990. About the Editor The late Captain Harry W Orlady was an Aviation Human Factors Consultant and a former Senior Research Scientist for the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS); he also worked with NASA/Ames, with private research firms and the FAA in its certification of the Boeing 747-400 and the McDonnell-Douglas MK-11. As a pilot with United Airlines he flew 10 types of aircraft ranging from the DC-3 to the Boeing 747. He conducted studies in ground and flight training, Human Factors, aviation safety and aeromedical fields, and received several major awards and presented nearly 100 papers or lectures. He was an elected fellow of the Aerospace Medical Association; a member of the Human Factors Society, of ICE Flight Safety and Human Factors Study Group, and the SAE Human Behavioural Technology and G-10 Committees.

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1
The Meaning of Human Factors

‘Not only will men of science have to grapple with sciences that deal with man but - and this is a far more difficult matter - they will have to persuade the world to listen to what they have discovered.’
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)

A hundred years of Human Factors

Man first began to make tools more than 5000 years ago. The fashioning of the handle of his axe to match the size and shape of his hand was an early application of elementary ergonomics, improving his efficiency at work. But themodem evolution of ergonomics or Human Factors as a technology can be said to go back just one hundred years.
It was in the 1880s and 1890s that Taylor and the Gilbreths started, separately, their work on time and motion studies in industry. And at about the same time academic work was being carried out by, amongst others, Galton on intellectual differences and by Cattell on sensory and motor capacities.
The First World War provided considerable stimulus to Human Factors activity as it became necessary to optimise factory production, much of which was being done by women totally new to this working environment. And in the USA from 1917 to 1918 two million recruits to the forces were given intelligence tests so as to assign them more effectively to military duties.
A psychological laboratory was established at Cambridge, England, towards the end of the 19th century and this later became the largest British centre for experimental psychology. Progress made during the war resulted, in 1921, in the foundation in the UK of the National Institute for Industrial Psychology which made available to industry and commerce the results of experimental studies.
An important milestone in this first century of Human Factors was the work done at the Hawthorne Works of Western Electric in the USA from 1924 to 1930. Here it was determined that work effectiveness could be favourably influenced by psychological factors not directly related to the work itself. This is still known as the ‘Hawthorne Effect’. A new concept of the importance of motivation at work was bom and this represented a fundamental departure from earlier ideas which concentrated on the more direct and physical relationship between man and machine.
The Second World War again provided a stimulus to Human Factors progress as it became apparent that more sophisticated equipment was outstripping man’s capability to operate it with maximum effectiveness. Problems of selection and training of staff, too, began to be approached more scientifically.
At Oxford during the war, a Climatic and Working Efficiency Research Unit was established. At Cambridge, the Psychology Laboratory of the University was responsible for what might be seen as a second major milestone. They constructed a cockpit research simulator which has since become known as the ‘Cambridge Cockpit’. From experiments in this simulator it was concluded that skilled behaviour was dependent to a considerable extent on the design, layout and interpretation of displays and controls. In other words, that for optimum effectiveness, the machine has to be matched to the characteristics of man rather than the reverse, as had been the conventional approach to system design. In 1945, the Applied Psychology Unit (APU) was established at Cambridge and this continues to be a source of much valuable Human Factors research work in the UK. At about this time in the USA, the much quoted research on three-pointer altimeter misreadings was beginning and this work was destined to be used as a standard illustration in discussions of design-induced error. And during this decade of the 1940s, aviation psychology centres were being initiated at Ohio State and Illinois Universities.
Perhaps a third milestone in this hundred years of Human Factors was the establishment of ergonomics or Human Factors as a technology in its own right. This was institutionalised by the founding of the Ergonomics Research Society in the UK in 1949, followed in 1959 by the formation of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA). In 1957 in the USA the Human Factors Society was founded and this was later affiliated to the IEA.
It was first calculated in 1940 that three out of four aircraft accidents are due to what has been called human failure of one kind or another. This figure was confirmed by IATA 35 years later. The next milestone in aviation Human Factors may be seen as the recognition that basic education in Human Factors was needed throughout the industry. In 1971 the ‘Human Factors in Transport Aircraft Operation’ two-week course was established at Loughborough University in England, later transferred to Aston University and also conducted elsewhere. In the USA a short course was established at the University of Southern California (USC), and at about this time, the US Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) introduced, for selected representatives, an accident investigation course that stressed Human Factors and featured USC faculty. By 1978, KLM in the Netherlands provided the first ‘Human Factors Awareness Course’ for large-scale, low-cost, in-house indoctrination of staff in basic Human Factors principles. This course was later acquired by organisations in numerous other countries (see Chapter 14).
In the early 1970s, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), concerned with the basic problem of Human Factors in air transport operations, organised a Human Factors committee which later led to the 1975 Istanbul Conference. During this same period, United Airlines started a confidential non-punitive incident reporting system which led to the FAA/NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS), (Reynard et al., 1986). Both are covered in more detail in succeeding paragraphs.
As though to emphasise the urgent need for effective action, a fifth and tragic milestone was erected during this period when educational programmes were taking shape. In 1977 at Tenerife two aircraft collided at a cost of 583 lives and about $150 million, creating the greatest disaster in aviation history and resulting entirely from a series of Human Factors deficiencies (see Chapter 7).
An important aviation event in this first one hundred years of Human Factors was the establishment by FAA/NASA in 1976 of the confidential Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS), the principles and feasibility for which had been previously established by the United Airlines programme. The ASRS is operated by NASA for the FAA which finances virtually all of the costs associated with this breakthrough programme.
The ASRS recognised officially for the first time that it is unrealistic to expect to obtain meaningful and adequate information for analysis of human behaviour and lapses in human performance while at the same time holding the threat of punitive action against the person making the report. This basic change of attitude towards both pilots and administrators has been justified by the accumulation during the first 15 years of operation of the scheme of a data bank of more than 180 000 reports from which analyses were made and published periodically.. During this period more than 2450 Search Requests were made and more than 1000 Alert Bulletins (ABs) were issued (ASRS Callback No. 143). After 15 years, ASRS was able to report that although statistical totals were increasing annually, event types, consequences and percentages remained generally consistent. The single exception being an increase in altitude deviations following the FAA inauguration of its Quality Assurance Program (QAP). Under this programme, any loss of separation in US airspace is automatically recorded by radar and requires examination of the incident by an FAA supervisor. An altitude deviation of more than 300 feet can cause a loss of separation if there is traffic at a conflicting altitude. Submission of an ASRS report provides immunity from FAA prosecution to the reporter in these instances. This increase in altitude deviations does not necessarily mean that there has been an increase in actual altitude deviations, but may only mean that there has been an increase in the number of altitude deviations reported.
The ASRS data bank now (mid-1992) includes over 210 000 reports. The programme receives an average of slightly under 3000 reports per month, the majority from airline pilots. This vast store of operational reports may have revealed, in principle, nothing new to those who have been for years concerned with the study of air transport Human Factors. However, it remains an extremely valuable exercise and has provided sufficient data for meaningful computer analysis - data that was previously unobtainable. The sheer weight of the evidence, backed by the authority and analytical facilities of NASA, has focused more regulatory and industry attention on the problem area than previously could be elicited.
Six years after the ASRS programme was set up in the USA, a similar scheme, the Confidential Human Factors Incident Reporting Programme (CHIRP), was initiated in the UK. In 1986 a similar scheme called the Confidential Aviation Safety Reporting Programme (CASRP) was initiated in Canada. At about the same time, New Zealand instituted an Independent Safety Assurance Team programme (ISAT) and in 1988 Australia instituted a comparable programme, the Confidential Aviation Incident Reporting (CAIR). Germany has recently established a similar programme which will serve as an anchor for a new European Community (EC) Directive which is now being formulated.
The monthly bulletin of ASRS is called ‘Callback’. This safety bulletin has a wide circulation in about 60 countries. By 1991 some 60 000 copies were being circulated monthly. The periodic bulletin of the British CHIRP system is called ‘Feedback’. Canada produces a bi-lingual bulletin ‘In-Flight’ or ‘Apr^’, while New Zealand’s bulletin is called ‘Flashback’. In Australia data and reports are included in its Basic Aviation Safety Information (BASI) publications.
In 1991, ASRS began a new publication called ‘Directline’ to meet the needs of operators and flight crews of complex aircraft. Distribution is directed to managers and management personnel, safety officers, and training and publications departments. Occasional reference will be made in the following chapters to examples taken from these bulletins to illustrate Human Factors problems.
A very comprehensive mandatory occurrence reporting system has been conducted in Australia for many years and this also has a provision for anonymous submission of reports. Although a very large number of incidents are reported annually, providing an impressive data base, and using computer processing since 1969, only limited analyses have been made compared with the later ASRS programme. Together, these reporting systems provide a wealth of statistics for the study of the role of the human component in aviation safety.
We now move into the second century of Human Factors. As we do so, it is fair to ask whether this technology has been adequately applied in aviation in the past and what can usefully be done to ensure adequate progress in the future. The chapters which follow will provide a basis upon which reasoned assessment of these issues can be made.

Defining Human Factors

Industry recognition

The 20th Technical Conference of IATA which was held in Istanbul during November 1975, and was entirely devoted to Human Factors, is seen by many as a turning point in official recognition of the importance of Human Factors in air transportation. Amongst members of its steering group were names of international repute in aviation Human Factors. Yet in spite of this input of expertise, attention of participants was stretched to cover a wide range of topics from medication and pilot psychiatric screening to windshear on approach and flight data recording.
The 600 delegates freighting home their 20 cm stack of conference papers might have been justified in feeling confused as to what Human Factors was all about. Few could have delineated the scope of the subject. Fewer still could have hazarded a definition of Human Factors as an applied technology.
Nevertheless, Istanbul generated two significant messages. Firstly, that something was amiss related to the role and performance of man in civil aviation. And secondly, that a basic Human Factors educational gap existed in air transport. Both messages called for urgent action. The great Tenerife disaster just 17 months later seemed to have been staged specifically to underline these messages and to call upon civil aviation to put its Human Factors house in order. These chapters are concerned to contribute towards filling the basic educational gap which Istanbul and other conferences have revealed.

Human Factors and ergonomics

In order to ensure that we are all talking the same language and can thus focus thought more constructively on the special problems associated with the role of man in the aeronautical system, we must start by defining clearly what we mean by Human Factors and what is its scope.
Human Factors is about people. It is about people in their working and living environments. It is about their relationship with machines and equipment, with procedures and with the environment about them. And it is also about their relationship with other people. While all definitions are man-made and rarely carry the force of law, they are useful in guiding enlightened discussion and crystallising professional activity. They should not be too restrictive, however, and should allow for development and new knowledge. The most appropriate definition of the applied technology of Human Factors is that it is concerned to optimise the relationship between people and their activities by the systematic application of the human sciences, integrated within the framework of systems engineering (Edwards, 1985). Its twin objectives can be seen as effectiveness of the system, which includes safety and efficiency, and well-being of the individual.
The term ergonomics was derived in 1949 from the Greek words ergon (work) and nomos (natural law) by the late Professor Murrell and used as the title of his textbook on the subject published in 1965. The word, or local adaptations of it, are now used in many parts of the world, such as ergonomie in Holland and in France, and ergonomia in Hungary and Brazil. He then defined it as ‘the study of man in his working environment’ and this comes very close to the later Edwards’ definition of Human Factors. There is, however, a small difference in emphasis. Human Factors has come to acquire a somewhat wider meaning, encompassing some aspects of human performance and system interfaces which would generally not be considered in the mainstream of ergonomics. Nevertheless, both are primarily concerned with human performance and human behaviour and for practical purposes both can be taken as referring to the same technology.
In the USA, the word ergonomics is only gradually coming into use. The term Human Factors is more common there, though its use is not precise and there a...

Inhaltsverzeichnis