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Human Factors Leading to Aircraft Incidents at the Ground Level:
MILITARY VS. CIVILIAN.
Human factors that cause aircraft incidents at the ground level. Aircraft Mechanics:
Civilian vs. Military.
The objective of this study is to investigate human factors that cause the aircraft incidents at the ground level. A case of Aircraft Mechanics: Civilian vs. Military. The study uses experimental method to carry out the research. The paper generates hypothesis to compare human factors that lead to the civilian and military aircraft incidents at the ground level. The study presents the research findings in tables and graphs and the research findings show that human factors leading to the aircraft incidents at the ground level is higher in the military aircraft than the civilian aircraft.
Worldwide commercial aviation has suffered huge costs of damage from the ground-related incidents estimated to reach more than $4 Billion. On the other hand, Flight Safety Foundation provides higher estimates pointing out that aircraft incidents at the ground could reach up to $10 billion. (Balk, 2007). Human factors leading to the ground handling process have been one of the major causes of casualties in the civilian and military aircraft globally. Human factors refer to the organization, human and individual factors which can affect the health and safety at work. This definition shows that human factors could have negative impact on personnel behavior, and many of the incidents that occurred to the military and civilian aircraft at the ground level have been caused by the human factors. Within civilian aviation, human factors are the contributing cause of the ground handling incidents resulting to the aircraft damages per 5000 flights. Typically, 61% of the aircraft incidents at the ground level are caused by the interface between the aircraft and ground handling equipment.
Within the United States, it has been generally agreed that human factors have been the major contributors to the aircraft causalities at the ground level and one of the human factors leading to the aircraft incidents is human errors. Typically, between 70 and 80% of the aircraft incidents at the ground level are caused by human errors. (Li, et al. 2002, Wiegman, & Shappell 2001).
The study formulates research objective to enhance greater understanding of the case of Civilian vs. Military Aircraft incidents at the ground level.
To investigate human factors that causes the aircraft incidents at the ground level. A case of Aircraft Mechanics: Civilian vs. Military.
The study explores the similar studies to enhance greater understanding on the human factors that cause the aircraft incidents at the ground level in the Civilian vs. Military aircraft.
Description of Similar Research
Wurmstein, et al. (2004) define human factors as the "science of analyzing the limitations of humans as we interact with the environment and preventing or mitigating the inevitable human error." (P12). Human limitations come from 5Ps that comprise of the following:
Physical (cold, heat, etc.);
Physiological (blood flow, oxygen, etc.);
Psychological (information processing, senses, etc.);
Psychosocial (communication, team interaction, etc.) and Pathological (injury and illness). (Wurmstein, Shetler, & Moening, 2004).
The study uses HFACS (Human Factors Analysis and Classification) to identify the human factors that cause aircraft incidents at the ground level in the civilian and military aircraft. HFACS identifies human factors that cause the aircraft incidents and provides the process of implementing the preventions. HFACS is based on the Swiss Cheese model showing how human errors lead to the aircraft incidents. HFACS taxonomy comprise of Unsafe Acts that comprise of errors and violations and are sub-categorized as Skill-Based Errors, Decision Errors, Perceptual Errors and routing violation.(Wiegmann & Shappell 2003).
Department of Defense, (2005) shows that human error is one of the major human factors that cause both military and civilian aircraft incidents. Human errors contribute to between 80 and 90% of the aircraft incidents at the ground level. Balk, & Bossenbroek, (2010) support this argument by pointing out that human factors have been the major causes of the aircraft incidents at the ground level, and human error is one of the human factors that causes aircraft incidents at the ground level. Within the civilian aviation, operational personnel are the major contributor of human errors, which subsequently contribute to aircraft incidents. Typically, ineffective communication from operational personnel is relatively contributing to human errors and the issue has been attributed to lack of effective leadership and supervision.
Poor leadership and supervision within civilian aviation could lead to human errors and consequently leading to aircraft incidents at the ground level. It is essential to realize that poor leadership could lead to the communication breakdown between department head and staff. When there is a communication breakdown, there would be an ineffective supervision of aircraft personnel at the ground level, which could consequently lead to the aircraft incidents. More importantly, time pressure is another factor that leads to human errors because time pressure could lead to fatigue and stress.
Bureau of Air Safety Investigation (1996) makes similar argument by pointing out that human error at the ground level could lead to fatal aircraft accidents. The inadequate pre-flight planning and preparation have been the origin of many aircraft incidents. It is essential to realize that origin of many aircraft accidents starts at the ground level before the aircraft takes off. The pre-flight planning and preparation include pre-flight aircraft checking and weather briefing. Pre-fight planning also includes fuel checking, and aircraft flight efficiency. The pre-flight planning could be unreliable if adequate checks are not implemented before the aircraft takes off. The case of a night freight flight in Australia from Sidney to Melbourne illustrates the incidents of ineffective pre-flight planning. The aircraft had a dual engine failure when on the air, and aircraft had difficulties in landing because it lost contact with Air Traffic Services making the aircraft to subsequently collide at the road cutting. Upon investigation, it was discovered that both engines of the aircraft ran out of fuel. The conclusion of the investigation revealed that management implemented ineffective pre-planning preparation before the flight took off, and the whole issue led to the aircraft accident.
Wiegman, et al. (2001) make correlation between human errors and occupation incidents in both military and civilian aviation sector, and the authors argue that this issue has led to between 70% and 80% of aviation incidents at ground level. The authors categorized human errors as:
unsafe acts of operators preconditions for unsafe acts, unsafe supervision,
Decision-based error is also one of the common forms of error affecting the safety of civilian and military aircraft at the ground level. Decision-based errors represent goal and conscious-intended behaviors that prove inappropriate and inadequate for the situation. Typically, decision-based errors are often referred as honest mistakes typically manifest into poorly executed procedures. Decision-based errors also refer to misuse or misinterpretation of relevant situation.
The second form of error is skilled-based error that occurs with little or no conscious thought. The skill-based error is the major human factors that cause military and civilian aircraft incidents at the ground level. Skills of aircraft personnel represent the skills possessed by aviation personnel to enhance efficient operations of military and civilian aircraft at the ground level. Thus, the skilled-based errors occur when personnel are unable to use their skills to enhance effective aircraft mechanical operations. "As a result, skill-based errors such as the breakdown in visual scan patterns, inadvertent activation/deactivation of switches, forgotten intentions, and omitted items in checklists often appear." (Wiegman, et al. 2001 P. 4). Generally, number of the skill-based errors is higher in the civilian aircraft incidents than the military aircraft incidents. Average number of skilled-based errors in civilian aviation is 70% compared to 52.5% found in Military aviation. (Wiegman, et al. 2004).
Organization influence is another major human factor affecting civilian and military aviation at the ground level. Organization influence represents the decision of upper-level management, which can directly influence supervisory practice of operators. Generally, organization influence revolves around three issues:
1) resource management,
2) organizational climate, and
3) Operational processes.
Resources management represents allocation, management as well as maintenance of organizational resources. These include human resources management that encompasses training, selection and staffing. The resource management also includes equipment design, monetary safety budgets, and ergonomic specifications. Generally, corporate decision on resource management centers on cost-effective operations and safety objectives, which an organization needs to balance to enhance aircraft safety operations at the ground level. However, during the time of fiscal austerity, organization may face challenges to balance the two objectives. The safety and training would be the first units within the organization to experience the impact of austerity due to financial constraints.
Shappell & Wiegmann (2004) argue that the budgetary austerity is more noticeable in the civilian aircraft than the military aircraft because the percentages of skilled-based errors are higher in the civilian aircraft than the military aircraft. The major factor leading to the higher increase in the skilled-based errors in civilian aircraft than the military aircraft is that civilian aviation will be the first to reduce the training of its personnel during financial…[continue]
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