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Aviation Human Factors is a broad field where boundaries between Aviation Psychology, Safety, and Systems melt into a distinct discipline of study and analysis. At its core, Aviation Human Factors is concerned with Human Performance of pilots as they interact with others and with the aircraft under a variety of flight conditions, stress levels, and performance requirements.
We’ve all heard the axiom that 80% of aircraft accidents are caused by pilot error. Well actually, we mean human error. Because it’s the human’s performance not only when things are going well, but also when a crewmember is experiencing stress, conflict, or degraded performance. One stat I can guarantee is that 99%* of aircraft accidents involve one or more of those three elements.
Since we said that 80% of aircraft accidents are caused by human error, we need to dig into that a little bit. Error is defined as the action, inaction, or decision of the pilot that leads to an undesired aircraft state (an incident or accident). It’s our natural instinct to assign blame when something has gone unexpectedly. Not all errors, however, are attributable to the pilot in command of an incident aircraft. So let’s separate “error” from what caused accident by calling it a “finding”.
If we were to discuss “findings” for an aircraft accident, it might include things like: