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Introduction to Human Factors

For Instructors


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Human Factors Definition

Some HF Models
Human Factors Analysis Classification System
Unsafe Supervision & Errors
HF in Training - Comfort Zone Principal
Integrating HF into Instruction
Assessing HF
What are human factors?

A good definition for gliding is needed!

Human Factors is the study of how glider
pilots performance is influenced by their
environment. It includes such issues as the
effect of glider cockpit designs, temperature,
and altitude on the pilot; the functioning of the
organs of the body, the effects of emotions and
attitude, and includes how well or poorly we
interact and communicate with others. Human
Factors will include the pilots attitude,
knowledge, and discipline in the role of
effecting judgement and decision making.
Why are human factors

Majority of aviation accidents are attributed

to pilot error!
Pilot error does not lend itself well to
finding root causes.
Pilot error does not easily permit analysis
and proactive actions to mitigate risks in
Why Instructors care about
Human factors
Helps us understand why certain
student/instructor actions are taken or not.
Helps us understand and develop effective
training & habits in ourselves/students
Contributes to safer instruction & safety culture
Develops safer pilots to preserve life/aircraft
Saves money/life of a club
Human Performance Factors
Physiological Factors Psychosocial Factors
Biodynamic Peer influences
Sensory Personal & community influences
Pathophysical Communication factors
Psychological Factors Operational Factors
Proficiency Physical Factors
Situational awareness Visibility
Fatigue reach
Perceptual-motor capabilities strength
Judgment and decision making
Personality Factors
Emotional state
Personality Style
Physiology of Acute Stress
115 and 145 beats/minute heart rate
optimal state of "arousal"
> 145 bad things begin to happen.
motor skills start to break down
tunnel vision
aggressive behavior
175 breakdown of cognitive processing
fore brain shuts down (judgment)
mid brain takes over (unconscious reactions)
vision more restricted
>175physiological control non-essential
Blood is concentrated in the core muscles
clumsy and helpless
Motor reaction freeze
Psychological Factors

Thin Slicing
Adaptive unconscious
Accurate snap decisions
Can be a better thinking process
Identify underlying decision patterns
Scenario Based Training
Develop criteria for thin slicing
Physiological Factors

Low g sensitivity
Attention distraction
Reflexive action of the nervous system
Survival reflexes
Repetitive reflexes



Judgement Self Discipline

James Reasons Swiss Cheese
Danger Hazard

Defences in
Defences (active & latent
Depth failures)

Unsafe acts (active failures)

Preconditions (latent failures)
Supervision (latent failures)

Rules, policies & procedures (latent failures)

Human Factors Analysis
Classification System (HFACS)
Developed to use HF to better analyze
accident/incident information
Can be used by instructors to understand
training impact on safety
method of classification for
accident/incidents can yield different results
Inadequate supervision
Planned inappropriate operations
Failure to correct problem
Supervisory violations

Lets look at Unsafe Supervision

Unsafe Acts


Skill based errors

Decision errors
Perceptual errors
A Different HF look on Human
We all commit errors
Any time an action does not produce
the desired result
Something we do
Something we fail to do

Different tasks; different approach

Two different types performance:

a) Conscious

b) Automatic
Automatic Performance

Develops only with practice

Very fast
Can do several things at once
Little conscious attention
Conscious Performance

Two different kinds:

a) Rule- Based
b) Knowledge-Based
Rule -Based

Can only actually think about one
thing at a time
Requires effort

Not familiar with the situation

Not sure how to deal with it
Use all the resources available to
solve the problem
Trial and Error/Success
Types of Errors

1. Execution Errors
Forget a preflight check
Using the wrong procedure

2. Planning Errors
Select a poor field to land
Integrating HF Into Training
The Comfort Zone Principle
The comfort zone model illustrates how challenging
situations can have both positive (expanding) and
negative (reducing) effects upon a participants
personal view of their own experience

Comfort Zone Stretch Zone Risk Zone Danger Zone

Student & Instructor
Comfort Zones

Possible relative size of a students zones (solid colours) Vs relative size of an instructors
zones (dashed lines)
Comfort zones
Table represents examples of Safety Zone Symptoms

Comfort Stretch Risk Danger

(Minimal learning) (Good learning) (Marginal learning) (No learning)
Personal Symptoms
Good feeling about Slight butterflies in pit Burning in pit of No feeling/numbness
flight of stomach stomach/nausea or extreme nausea
Alert but relaxed Heightened alertness Easily distracted/may Tunnel vision starts to
Easily managing flight Start asking yourself have difficulty focusing set in/only able to
& maneuvers questions/options & on problems focus on one thing
No stress symptoms mentally providing Asking yourself Loss of situational
answers to yourself questions but no awareness
Some stress longer providing (airspeed/traffic/etc)
symptoms hair answers to yourself High stress/rapid or
standing on end/goose Under stress and irregular heartbeat
bumps sweating/heart rate
Instructor Observed Student Symptoms
Student Less talkative or may Stops asking Does not respond to
communicative ask more questions questions/may seem questions
Student notices May express lack of distracted May stop flying &
elements/situation of confidence/ request Has difficulty become passenger
flight without assurance answering No response to
prompting Weaker scan questions/nervous verbal/physical
Handles all tasks technique voice pattern prompts on controls
Relaxed noticeable May have to focus on May not respond No head movement
head movement new task & need quickly to May freeze on controls
looking around promoting to complete verbal/physical control White skin
others prompts tones/breathing
Becomes a bit restless Head fairly still irregular
may mention Sweating visible/pale
uncomfortable clammy skin colour
behind ears/breathing
Human Factors
about risk management.
develop your own comfort zone.
finding your personal level of satisfaction
with the risks in gliding by identifying
elements that protect you and make you
comfortable, recognizing accident sequences
and departures from your routine
personal discipline by knowing your limits.
Comfort Zone Development

self assessment
understanding and setting personal
limitations (minimums)
making preparations (personal routines)
use of checklists, pneumonics, etc.
Integrating HF into Instruction

Ground School
Preparatory Ground Instruction
Pre Flight Briefings
In-Flight Instruction
Post Flight Briefings
Ground School

Intro simple scenarios to illustrate HF

Develop students ability to do self assessment
Show the need for awareness
Intro case studies - impact on student
reads complete case study including analysis
provide only facts & let student analyze
analyze using HF Model (E.G. HFACS)
Preparatory Ground Instruction
Include relevant HF issues for up coming
have students explain why HF may effect
flight lesson and how to counter
Ask student to anticipate any unsafe situations
Check to see the student has prepared for HF
& knows what to do
Pre Flight Briefings

Discuss HF aspects for conditions at the

condition of student
weather & wind
condition of instructor
Reinforce planning ahead and being
In-Flight Instruction
Ground instruction often not integrated with
flight training
Avoid flight instruction if student has not
received background information.
Pay attention for HF impact on pilot
Bridge gap between HF theory and the
practical in the air
Communications & CRM
In-Flight Instruction & Scenario
Based Training (SBT)
Use SBT to teach HF for in-Flight Training
Build on scenarios from Ground School if possible
Create a realistic scenarios to develop situational
awareness and judgement
Develop problem solving and decision making
SOAR technique
Be careful to make it a positive learning
Scenario Based Training


Post Flight Briefings

Highlight HF issues relevant to what

student did while fresh in their memory
Identify areas that had HF implications
Safe & successful flight but fundamental
errors can occur
Have student explain/think out potential
Assessing Human Factors

Practical HF Assessment

Workload Management
Situational Awareness
Decision-making & Judgement
Some HF knowledge/practical
examples for Flights
Vision limitation/Scan techniques & illusions in flight (miopia, drift)
Decision making models/Use in flight (SOAR, WROLL, SSSLOW,
Physiology/Disorientation (Coriolis effect, spatial disorientation, G, air
Physiology/Effects on flight (fatigue, hypoglycemia, dehydration,
hypoxia, temperature, barotitis, barosinusitis, bends)
Communication errors/CR M
Personality factors/Effect on flight (attitude, attention to detail, self
discipline, responsibility, self evaluation, stress, fear)
Control design/Errors made in flight (spoilers, gear, instruments,
primary controls, body& seat position, radio, compass)
Checklists/Checklist error(s) made in flight
Practice what you preach - be the example
Take a deliberate approach to HF education and
incorporate it into training
Look also for opportunities to to bring HF to
students attention
Develop self awareness in students
Assess HF to provide feedback to improve
student behaviour
Human Factors for Aviation - Basic Handbook, Transport Canada, TP 12863E
Human Factors for Aviation - Advanced Handbook, Transport Canada, TP
Human Factors for Aviation - Instructors Guide, Transport Canada, TP 12865E
Aviation Safety Programs - A management Handbook, Jeppesen, Richard Wood
Managing the Risks of Organizational Accidents, Ashgate, James Reason
A Human Error Approach to Aviation Accident Analysis, the human factors
analysis and classification system, Ashgate, Wiegmann and Shappell
OSTIV Safety Briefing - Comfort Zone, Kevin Moloney, BGA Safety
Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, Little, Brown and Company, Time Warner Book
Group, New York, NY 2005