Human Factors in Aviation & Aerospace

Some of the greatest challenges in the operation and design of large machine systems such as aviation vehicles and aerospace vessels, arise from human factors. It is from such challenges that human-factor engineering has emerged, determined to optimize the interaction between man and machines for the purposes of safety and efficiency. As such, human-factors engineering concerns itself with operating procedures and the training of personnel, as well as issues of interface design. (Britannica, 2008)

These are crucial issues to aviation and aerospace, as human error has been identified as a primary contributor to more than 70 percent of commercial airplane hull-loss accidents. Graeber (1999) asserts that human error is a major concern within the areas of not only flight operations but in maintenance and traffic management as well. To remedy these matters, human factors engineering must identify the limits and characteristics of cognition, information processing and memory and how they can most effectively be integrated into the day to day operations of aviation and aerospace.

This means going beyond mere personnel training and redundant safety protocols, but making knowledgeable and flexible observations about how humans interface with aviation and aerospace technology. Because technology tends to evolve faster than our ability to predict how humans interact with it, the overseers of aviation and aerospace industries cannot rely on the aggregate ‘common sense’ of industry history and intuition in order to guide decisions related to human performance.

(Graeber, 1999) By applying the collective wisdom of fields from cognitive psychology, human performance and physiology, the ideal of human factors engineering is a design that allows human performance in aviation and aerospace to reach the best of its ability, despite the disconnect between the machines they operate and their natural limitations.


Graeber, C. (1999) The Role of Human Factors in Improving Aviation Safety. Boeing Magazine, Volume 8. “human-factors engineering”. (2008). In Encyclop? dia Britannica. Retrieved July 05, 2008, from Encyclop? dia Britannica Online: http://www. britannica. com/EBchecked/topic/275693/human-factors-engineering Jamieson, G. A. (2008 February) Human Factors: To Compete or Cooperate? Mechanical Engineering.