The human element and human error in the aviation industry Essay

The human element and human error in the aviation industry, 491 words essay example

Essay Topic: environment, situation, accident, accidents

The human element is the most valuable, adaptable, flexible and most vulnerable part of the aviation industry. As most of aviation accidents and incidents are the result of below standard human performance, there is a big tendency to qualify the causes of these mishaps to human error. Nevertheless the term human error doesn't help in the investigation and prevention of aviation events, though it tells us where the system failed it does not show us anything about the reasons that led to the failure. The term 'human error' hides the latent factors that should be revealed in order to prevent aviation accidents. Some of the errors committed by individuals might have been caused by below standard training, incorrect procedures, incomplete standard operating procedures or SOPs and obsolete operating manuals. Human error is not the end but the starting point in investigating and prevention of accidents and incidents in the modern history of Aviation.
In the earlier days the concern in the field of human factors demonstrated the danger of leaving the human element as a part of the socio-technical system (the Aircraft). A better cabin interface has reduced the most common mistakes committed by pilots such as wrong flight instruments reading, and inadvertent selection of flight deck switches. Understanding the predictable dimensions of human capabilities and limitations and applying this knowledge in operational environment is the main concerns of human factors.
What Had Been Done To Learn From Human Mistakes
A lot has been done to learn from human mistakes, to mention some, Reason's Swiss Cheese model, Crew Resource Management (CRM), and HFACS are the most important learning tools which had attributed a big impact in educating flight crew in prevention of accidents.
Reason's "Swiss Cheese" Model of Human error
In 1990 James Reason proposed a very appealing approach to the birth of human error. Referred to as the "Swiss Cheese" model of human error , it describes four levels of human failure, each influencing the next, though three of them are latent ones the fourth one is an active one which is the last point of defense and performed by the pilots, therefore we can say any accident could be prevented if all the four conditions were not met satisfying the condition for the accident to happen, if all the latent failures were satisfied the pilots will be confronted with a situation which might cause an accident depending on the severity of the latent conditions, but most accidents have been prevented from happening by well-trained crew.
Latent Failures
Organisational Influences
Unsafe Supervision
Preconditions for Unsafe Acts
Active Failures
Unsafe Acts
The "Swiss Cheese" model of human error causation (Adapted From Reason, 1990)
Even though Reason's " Swiss Cheese" model of accident cause has revolutionised common views of accident causation, it never explains what the whole in the cheese really are. Finally one has to know what these latent failures or "holes are, so that they can be identified during accident investigations or detected and corrected before an accident occurs.

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