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Introduction to Human Factors

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Introduction to Human Factors

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There is more to pilot training than acquiring technical knowledge and gaining proficiency in aircraft control. Understanding how your mind and body function when you fly is as important as knowing the operation of your airplane’s systems and equipment. The goal of human factors training for pilots is to increase aviation safety by optimizing human performance and reducing human error. Instruction in human factors principles focuses on explaining how performance is affected by elements such as the interaction between individuals within the aviation environment, emotions, and human physiology. Learning human factors concepts is essential to becoming a safe and effective pilot and is an important part of comprehensive pilot training.

This section provides a foundation for further exploration of human factors in aviation. The Human Element Insets located throughout this manual help you to correlate human factors concepts to specific pilot operations and expand upon the fundamental principles introduced in this section. Chapter 10 provides a more extensive examination of the application of human factors concepts and their impact on you as a pilot and the aviation community.

Aeronautical Decision Making

Aviation Physiology

Alcohol, Drugs, and Performance

Aeronautical Decision Making

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In the early years of aviation, there was little else to rely on but perseverance and luck to get a pilot safely to his or her destination. Compared with the advanced systems of today, aircraft equipment was extremely primitive, less redundant, and more prone to failure. There were no services such as air traffic control, or facilities which provided comprehensive weather briefings. The majority of accidents were the result of mechanical difficulties or weather conditions which were so severe that the pilot’s skills were not sufficient to cope with the situation.

Aviation’s safety record steadily improved as technology progressed. Today, aircraft are

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Introduction to Human Factors

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equipped with sophisticated equipment and systems, a multitude of aviation services exist, and pilot skills have increased through advanced training methods. Yet accidents still occur. Why? Despite all the changes in aviation, one factor has remained the same; the human factor. It is now estimated that approximately 75 percent of all aviation accidents are human factors related.

Historically, the term pilot error has been used to describe the causes of these accidents. Pilot error means that an action or decision made by the pilot was the cause of, or contributing factor which lead to, the accident. This definition also includes failure of the pilot to make a decision or take action. From a broader perspective, the phrase human factors related more aptly describes these accidents since it usually is not a single decision made by the pilot which leads to an accident, but a chain of events which is triggered by a number of factors.

Crew Resource Management Training

The Decision-making Process

Pilot-In-Command Responsibility

Communication

Resource Use

Workload Management

Situational Awareness

Aviation Physiology

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An essential component of human factors training is aviation physiology, which is the study of the performance and limitations of the body in the flight environment. Most healthy people do not experience any physical difficulties as a result of flying. However, there are some physiological factors which you should be aware of as you begin flight training. An expanded description of how your body functions in flight is contained in Chapter 10.

Pressure Effects

Motion Sickness

Stress

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Introduction to Human Factors

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Fatigue

Noise

Alcohol, Drugs, and Performance

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Illness and disease also can affect the functioning and performance of your body, as can the drugs which are meant to fight these illnesses. There are two things you should consider before flying while using a drug. First, what is the condition you are treating, and second, what are the side effects of the drug used to treat the condition? Some conditions are serious enough to prohibit flying, even if the illness is being treated successfully with drugs. Always let your physician know you are a pilot and ask about the side effects of prescription medication. You should consult an aviation medical examiner about any medication, including over-the- counter drugs which you suspect will adversely affect your ability to pilot an aircraft.

Depressants

Alcohol

Fitness For Flight

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