in ATM & Regulatory

Mthiyane calls for greater focus on human factors in aviation

Posted 9 September 2015 · Add Comment

ATNS chief executive Thabani Mthiyane is leading a call for a greater focus on human factors and a recognition of the challenges of human-machine integration in the aviation industry,

Mthiyane was opening the Human Factor and Aviation Safety Symposium in Cape Town yesterday. He stressed the importance of understanding the human error that causes 75 per cent of aviation accidents, and of integrating this knowledge of human error, and of human ability into new technologies and organisations in order to get the maximum efficiency and safety from aviation.

“When the man in the street thinks about aviation, he tends to think about the amazing machines and technology that make it possible to propel huge metal pods through the air. The technology truly is amazing, but if one thinks about it, aviation actually depends on something even more remarkable: the integration of humans, organisation and technology to enable the whole complex business of aviation, ” Mthiyane said.

“We need to do much more: it’s essential to enhance our broader understanding of the abilities and shortcomings of humans, as well as all other factors that impact on the way they interact with tools, machines, systems, tasks, jobs and the environment. In other words, no matter how sophisticated and reliable our machines and technology become—and there are new developments on this front all the time—the aviation industry is ultimately a business that relies on people and their judgment.”

Mthiyane went on to discuss how the issues surrounding human error should be addressed: “every component of aviation needs to be structured with the human in mind—how can a process, a new computer programme or whatever enhances natural, innate human abilities while overcoming humanity’s innate limitations.”

He finished his speech by referring to the subjects to be discussed later in the symposium: “My brief overview of the role of human factors thinking in air traffic control highlights some important insights that I am sure will inform our discussions over the course of this symposium. These are: The need to put the understanding of human abilities and limitations at the centre of everything we do in aviation. The human is not a factor, but the pivot of our industry, technology and organisations, specifically, must be designed with humans in mind, and aviation needs to be understood as a system in which technology and humanity interact.”



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