Aviation maintenance is vital in ensuring safe and efficient flights. Human factors affect aviation and it is therefore necessary for aviation industry to work together with human factors professionals so as to ensure well maintained aircrafts. The main cause of aircraft accidents is human error since aircrafts are well maintained. To ensure reduced accidents and mishaps aviation staffs must have training from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Aviation employees must therefore have license from FAA. The licenses from FAA include the Airframe and the Power plant. Human factors responsibilities include responsibility in error management, flight deck design and passenger flight design.
The commercial aviation industry has come to realize that mechanical failure is not the primary cause of aviation incidents and accidents but human error. Human factors involves the collection of information about physical characteristics, abilities and limitations and applying it to machines, tools, environment, jobs and tasks to create comfortable, effective and secure human use (Schmidt, 1999). In aviation, human factors help employees to understand how technology can be integrated to most aspects of the industry and to provide effective and secure environment to transform the knowledge into practice policies, procedures or designs to promote better performance of employees (Schmidt, 1999).
The essay focuses on discussing the human factors responsibilities in aviation maintenance management; human factor effects in aviation, FAA mandated training and training avenues and tools used to raise safety awareness and mishap minimization.
Human error is the leading cause of commercial airplane accidents. Recently, human error in aviation and aeronautics has become the leading concern in air traffic control and maintenance practices. Human factors professionals in the aviation industry, work with mechanics, engineers and pilots in applying the latest knowledge in the interface between commercial airplanes and human capacity to ensure efficient and safe daily operations (Steber, 2002).
Human factors refer to social behavior or cognitive and physical properties, which are specific to people and they affect the human-environment equilibriums and functioning of technological systems (Schmidt, 1999). Involved in the study of human factors is the aspect which examines the relationship between humans and the surrounding world. The main objective of studying human factors in aviation maintenance management is to improve safety and operational performance. The term “human factors” is increasingly used in modern times. Specializations within the department of human factors include human machine/human computer interaction, usability, and user experience engineering and cognitive ergonomics (Graeber, 2001). Human factors professional interests include security, training, attention, human reliability and performance, communication, human-machine interaction, fatigue and work load on the human (Steber, 2002).
Human Factors Responsibilities in Aviation Maintenance Management
Humans are typically responsible for ensuring the safety and success of the aviation industry. They must, therefore, continue to be efficient, knowledgeable, enthusiastic and flexible while being true to exercise sound judgment. To ensure human factor responsibilities in aviation maintenance management, the aviation industries have employed human factors specialists such as mechanics who some are also pilots. Improvement on human performance by the aviation industry can assist in reduction, in the rate of aircraft accidents. The aviation industry can help reduce accidents by developing appropriate procedures for maintenance technicians, flight crews and designing of human-airplane interfaces (Hobbs, 2008).
The aviation industry should continually review the performance of people in the entire industry so as to ensure improved comfort, maintainability, usability and reliability. Specialists in the department of human factors should also frequently analyze operational safety and develop tools and methods to help operators to better understand and manage human error (Hobbs, 2008). Human factor responsibilities require specialists to work closely with mechanics, cabin crews, engineers, training pilots and security experts.
The areas of responsibility in Aviation Maintenance Management include addressing human factors in passenger cabin design, flight deck design, error management and design for in service-support and maintainability (Cohen, 2000).
Human Factors Responsibility in Flight Deck Design
Flight deck design/cockpit refers to the front area of an aircraft from which the pilot controls the aircraft. Most flight decks are separated and enclosed from the cabin. After the September 11 terrorist attack, most cockpits have been separated from cabin to prevent access by hijackers (Hobbs, 2008). Human factors/ergonomics are necessary in the design of flight decks. The flight deck should be designed in a manner that increases the pilot’s situation awareness and in a manner that does not create information overload (Graeber, 2001).
Reliable and safer flight deck designs are responsible in increased productivity and reduction in the rate of aircrafts accidents. Improvements in systems, structures and engines are among the factors that have led to reduction in plane accidents. Flight deck model has been a human factor in mitigating and preventing human error (Graeber, 2001).
Human Factors Responsibility in Passenger Cabin Design
Human factors principles associated with flight deck are now being designed to ensure that passengers and cabin crews are capable of doing what they want and need. As technology becomes quite complex and flights get longer, passenger activities such as drinking, movie viewing, gaming, sleeping and electronic shopping will increase (Oviatt, 2000). Human factors specialists in the aviation industry should try to match the advanced technologies to passengers who want and need the latest technology. It is a responsibility to the human factors specialists to ensure aircrafts have updated technology. The solution of not having outdated technology is to ensure that human factors professionals work closely with design engineers to try and develop new technologies that involve a person as an essential component (Brauer, 1996).
Human Factors Responsibility in Error Management
Failure to follow the proper procedures in aircraft maintenance and flight operations is one of the common causes of aircraft accidents and incidents. Despite the existence of such incidents, the aviation industries lack a consistent and systematic tool for knowing the cause of the incidents. To reduce errors that cause accidents, the aviation industry has come up with human factors tools to help realize the emergence of errors and improve the systems to ensure that are no accidents (Cohen, 2000).
Maintenance of human errors in the aviation industry requires two approaches. In the first approach, errors can be minimized by counteracting and identifying conditions that are likely to produce error. This may involve focusing on fatigue management, provision of appropriate equipments and tools and other factors that may be associated with maintenance error. In the second approach, errors can be minimized by the aviation personnel remaining vigilant since errors can only be reduced and not entirely eliminated (Steber, 2002). In the aviation industry, error can be reduced by ensuring resilience when faced by human error also by ensuring that appropriate risk controls are put in place so as to identify and correct errors. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), there are twelve maintenance-related causes of errors. They include fatigue, lack of assertiveness, stress, sense of urgency and tension, lack of awareness, distraction, lack of teamwork, complacency, lack of resources, organizational or social norms, and lack of communication and lack of knowledge (Cohen, 2000). Since maintenance errors refer to errors that are made by technicians, it would be required for the technicians to be trained on how to avoid the errors (Hobbs, 2008).
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Mandated Training
To work on aircraft, a person must have a license from FAA. FAA governs all aviation activities in America. The aviation activities governed by FAA include pilot training activities, airplane design, airline flights and model aircraft operation. The rules are designed so as to protect pilots, passengers, the general public and attendants from unnecessary risk (Smith, 2003). An aircraft mechanic is also known as Aviation Maintenance Technician. The licenses from FAA include the Airframe and the Power plant. The power plant category allows a person to work on aircraft engines. The Airframe rating allows a person to work on the airplane body on parts which include brakes, wings and brakes. Most aircraft jobs require both ratings (Smith, 2003).
Since the majority of all aviation accidents and incidents are because of human error, FAA requires that all aircraft workers who are responsible for maintaining aircrafts have a high level insight of human factors in the safety, repair and maintenance of the aircraft. Proper maintained aircrafts and safe flights can only be achieved by training the aircraft maintenance technicians. The trained technician is required to comply with the latest industry standards. After the training, the trained person is required to demonstrate that he/she has insight on airworthiness regulations and human factors (Schmidt, 1999).
The FAA requires all aircraft service to be performed by mechanics with certifications from FAA; therefore, main airlines hire mechanics with FAA certification. FAA regulations require the technicians to maintain their certificates valid. Applicants are required to have at least 1,000 hours of operation experience in the past one year and have done fresher courses. The educational requirements for aircraft repair job involve extensive training and, for work in maintenance, license and certification are required (Smith, 2003).
Human Factor Effects in Aviation
Human factors in aviation refer to multidisciplinary efforts in compiling and creation of information about human limitations and capabilities. The generated and complied information is applied in practice, systems, staffing, software, facilities, jobs, procedures, personnel management and equipments to create comfortable, effective and secure human performance (Hobbs, 2008). Early implementation of human factors in the procurement process ensures decreased training costs and lifecycle staffing; enhances the likelihood of increased safety, performance and efficiency (Hobbs, 2008).
In aviation, human factors interact either in a dangerous or critical condition with technological systems, human organizations or human-natural environment. The identification or choice of human factors produces a positive or negative impact on the functioning of human-machine systems and human organization. Effective human factors are crucial in, operational safety, management. Human factors sometimes can cause unintended errors in the professional judgment and task management (Cohen, 2000). The aviation environment can sometimes be not be favorable and, therefore, cause human errors.
Human factors in aviation help in task, environmental, equipment design and selection and training of individuals. They are also applied in training people by teaching and helping the individual practice and encounter conditions that he or she will face in the job environment (Steber, 2002). Aviation is affected by human factors in the provision of improved temperature control, lighting and reduced noise in places where aviation activities take place. Human factors such as human error can cause accidents and incidents that negatively affect the aviation industry (Cohen, 2000).
Training Avenues and Tools Used to Enhance Safety Awareness and Mishap Minimization
Flight crew members and other employees in the aviation industry are trained to ensure flight safety. Crew Resource Management (CRM) training is part of operations. To minimize tragedy and improve safety awareness, air traffic controllers, flight attendants, aircraft dispatchers and maintenance personnel are trained on security measures. In the course of the training, the aviation personnel are involved in activities that include decision making, dealing with automated systems, problem solving, team building and maintenance, information transfer, dealing with automated systems and maintaining situation awareness. CRM training is comprised of initial awareness, frequent updates and feedbacks and continued reinforcement (Hancock, 1995).
Aviation personnel are trained on situation awareness so as to reduce accident and ensure increased safety. Situation awareness refers to being aware of the current situation and understanding how events, information and one’s own actions can affect present and future objectives and goals (Smith, 1995). Lack or inadequate situation awareness is one of the leading causes of accidents that are attributed to human error. Situation awareness is essential in work domains where information flow is high and poor decisions can lead to dire consequences. Training of situation analysis is, therefore, particularly necessary for pilots and soldiers (Smith, 1995).
Incidents and accidents can affect the safety of passengers, personnel, guests, work environment and equipments. The ability of aviation staff to identify hazards provides them with the opportunity to learn prevention of incidents and accidents. The form of reporting hazards should be appropriate, uncomplicated and accessible to each employee (Hancock, 1995). Programs for reporting hazards should entail anonymous reporting of hazards, frequent monitoring to identify trends that are hazardous and data analyzing process. When aviation industries are establishing training requirements, they should ensure that the requirements involve effective use of workshops, conferences, trade and literature journals, system for track training requirements and records of employees (Hancock, 1995).
Since the aviation industry concentrate in minimization of mishaps, accidents and incidents, the industry should also strive to adopt ways to protect the environment. The safety performance of the aviation industry needs to be continually monitored so as to ensure that the chief security goals are achieved.