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Building a Positive Human Factors Culture by Considering Team Performance in Aviation

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Why are human conditions, such as fatigue, complacency, and stress, so important in aviation maintenance? These conditions, along with many others, are called human factors

Human factors directly cause or contribute to many aviation accidents. It is universally agreed that 80 percent of maintenance errors involve human factors.

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The term "human factors" has grown increasingly popular as the commercial aviation industry has realized that human error, rather than mechanical failure, underlies most aviation accidents and incidents. If interpreted narrowly, human factors is often considered synonymous with crew resource management (CRM) or maintenance resource management (MRM)

However, it is much broader in both its knowledge base and scope. Human factors involves gathering information about human abilities, limitations, and other characteristics and applying it to tools, machines, systems, tasks, jobs, and environments to produce safe, comfortable, and effective human use. In aviation, human factors is dedicated to better understanding how humans can most safely and efficiently be integrated with the technology. That understanding is then translated into design, training, policies, or procedures to help humans perform better. Despite rapid gains in technology, humans are ultimately responsible for ensuring the success and safety of the aviation industry. They must continue to be knowledgeable, flexible, dedicated, and efficient while exercising good judgment. Meanwhile, the industry continues to make major investments in training, equipment, and systems that have long-term implications.

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There has been a simplification of the air traffic control environment as a uniform global activity. However, the cognitive ability of the personnel varies greatly across different positions. For example, non-radar oceanic control position, radar (en route control position) radar (approach/departure control position) and non-radar (tower control position). These different positions involve different tasks and the personnel also require diverse knowledge and cognitive ability. Various events and activities are involved in the air traffic controller. For example, the air traffic controllers are involved in various external events and activities such as studying and understanding weather patterns, air traffic, serviceability of equipments and unexpected events such as emergencies

Air traffic controllers are in various cases required to make decisions under pressure, which is an essential skill. However, the majority of decisions made by air traffic controllers are dependent on a large repertoire of a well analyzed and organized situational awareness and information from long term memory (D-Malone, 2011).

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On the whole, though much has been made of crew resource management (CRM) on the flight deck, relatively little attention has been paid to its maintenance-related counterpart, maintenance resource management (MRM)

Indeed, this oversight is understandable. Whereas a pilot or pilots’ errors can have immediate and highly visible effects, the same can not necessarily be said of a maintenance-based error. Because of this, aviation research into team activities first grew from investigations into aircrew behaviors.

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Harris, D., & Muir, H. C. (2005). Contemporary Issues In Human Factors And Aviation Safety. New York: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.

Mark, R. P. (2008, January 11). Cockpit Automation is Still Very Much a Work in Progress.

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