In the Slashdot article Is the Tesla Model S Pedal Placement A Safety Hazard? it says:

what aviation analysts call a 'design-induced pilot error'

I tried to search for design-induced pilot error on Google, but found things too complex to understand! What does this mean?

  • $\begingroup$ In the link in that slashdot article, it's explained pretty clearly. It's near the top of the article, in short paragraphs tailored for even the most ADD of us. "I wrote that the close pedal spacing of the Model S had contributed to my mistake--a phenomenon known in the industrial world as “design-induced operator error.”" $\endgroup$
    – Jason C
    Mar 28, 2015 at 21:23

2 Answers 2


The phrase is basically saying that bad design causes people to make mistakes.

Design-induced - the interaction design or user experience is problematic.

Pilot error - the pilot made a mistake.

An example of this would be the placement of a flap handle next to a gear lever, making it possible to raise the gear rather than the flaps after landing.

Engine controls in modern designs now feature different shapes for each control knob for similar reasons. There have been many accidents where pilots have grabbed a mixture knob — and shut an engine off completely — when they meant to grab the throttle and reduce power. Different textures and shapes make that harder to do:

enter image description here


An (in)famous example would be John Denver's crash in an experimental aircraft, costing him his life.
Due to the placement of the fueltank selector, which was different from usual, he inadvertently selected an empty tank, causing him to eventually crash as his engine failed from fuel starvation at low altitude.


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