Friday, 3 July 2009

Human factors is back in business!

I’ve been getting a bit more into this blogging lark, realising that it’s more about participation in the ‘blogosphere’ than just standing on a soapbox. Preaching to the converted for anyone reading this, I’m sure, but setting the context for this week’s post.

The fact that we’ve had a couple of major air accidents in recent weeks has resulted in the usual rash of media stories (and now bloggers) commenting on whether the skies are safe any more. What's good about these is they get people thinking about the human factors involved - for good or ill.

This commentary on FastCompany (with thanks to Ferg for flagging this one up) is trying to say the right things, but for me they’re just not getting their teeth into the human factors at the heart of the issue. And, according to the pilot who comments on the post, it’s ill-informed.

Anyone interested in aviation human factors please have a look at the post and see what you think. I for one couldn’t help but join in and have my tuppence worth.

On a more promising tack, this Reuters article picks up on the Air France and Yemeni airliner crashes, seemingly for no other reason that they were within weeks of each other. And both involved Airbuses, but that’s a different story.

Encouragingly, this one does report better on the human factors issues, alluding to mental models and human-machine cooperation. Whilst I wholeheartedly support the promotion of HF on the safety agenda, I do find it difficult to see the link between the facts and the story here, though. As far as I gather, the Air France crash is still a mystery (and looks set to remain one, which befuddles me in these modern times), and I’m not sure we know what happened in the Indian Ocean yet either.

But what really hit me about this particular article was the quote from the President of the Flight Safety Foundation, who says, “We’re back in the human factors business”. As I teach my students that aviation led the way in a lot of human factors, I wonder when they were ever out of the HF business?

No comments:

Post a Comment