Human Factors in Accident Investigation

A Safety Management Systems (SMS) Certificate Course

Human error is implicated in most, if not all, aviation accidents. Accident investigators, therefore, need information, tools, and procedures to discover the role human error has played in an accident/incident being investigated. This course teaches the required material for investigators (a) to identify the human error issues involved in an accident wherever they occurred (e.g., in the cockpit, ATC, management, maintenance, etc.), and (b) to know when and how to call on the required Human Factors experts for further analysis.

The course starts with a brief review of the role of human error in aviation accidents using the SHELL, Reason and Helmreich models from an investigator perspective as organizing frameworks. A taxonomy of unsafe acts (organization, supervisor, and operator) is presented. The course then focuses on what the investigator needs to know about the individual human and the various factors which tend to make humans make mistakes including the ability to process information, deal with a physiologically challenging environment, and perform within a potentially sub-optimal workplace. Training and negative transfer, as well as procedures, will also be presented as additional factors leading to human error.

Who Should Attend

  • Individuals who need to understand the human error issues in aviation accidents and how human error and human limitations can cause accidents.
  • Accident Investigators or those who participate in accident investigation.

How You Will Benefit

  • This course provides the accident investigator with a solid foundation for the recognition of ‘Human Error’ issues and a process to discover them. It can be taken individually or as part of a series of courses in the SCSI Aircraft Accident Investigation Certificate Program.
  • Practical examples and case studies will enhance your theoretical knowledge.
  • This course is accepted by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals for Continuance of Certification credit.
  • This course is one of the required courses for the Certificate in Aircraft Accident Investigation granted by SCSI.
  • SCSI will award 3.6 CEUs to each participant who successfully completes this course.

Course Topics

  • Human Factors and Human Error from an Investigator’s Perspective.
  • Human Performance and Information Processing.
  • A General Model.
  • Illusions.
  • Stress and Fatigue.
  • Pilot Physiology
  • The Ergonomics of the Cockpit Including Anthropometry, Different Populations and Gender
  • Training and Negative Transfer.
  • Summary of Human Error Causes and Reduction Methods from an Accident Investigator Perspective
  • Integrated Human Error Investigation Procedures Including Case Studies and Clues.
  • Introduction to Human Factors Analysis and Classification System.
  • The Psychology of Witness Interviewing Including the Interviewing of Key Witnesses Not Normally Associated with Basic Witness Interviewing (e.g., spouses of pilots, survivors, crew members with survivor syndrome, etc.)
  • Pressures on the Accident Investigation Team
  • Critical Stress Syndrome and Trauma As it Relates to Witnesses and the Investigators.
  • Pathology: Medical Examiner Evidence and its Relationship to other Clues of Human Actions, Failure to Act and Interactions. What the Investigator can ask and obtain from the Aero-medical Examiner?
  • Automation and the Role of the Crew. Autonomy, Authority and Observability.
  • Case studies. Individual and Team Investigation Exercises.

Course Administration

The Human Factors in Accident Investigation Course consists of 4.5 training days (36 classroom hours). Students receive a textbook, class notes lecture outlines, additional reference material and a Certificate of Completion. The classes start each morning at 0800 and end at noon on the last day.

Typical Comments from Attendees

  • Excellent Class.
  • Airline case study provided a great opportunity to discuss all of the issues surrounding automation human factors
  • The material was fascinating and presented in an entertaining manner.