Safety through understanding of human factors
This question is based on https://aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/27814/ and related to:
- How have deep-seated cultural human factors (particularly in east Asia) in the cockpit been successfully managed in the past 20 years?
- To what extent have political (race, gender, social class) attitudes been implicated as human factors in the cockpit?
Aviation industry safety has improved as much through better understanding of human factors in the cockpit as it has through advances in science, technology and engineering, to the extent that practitioners in other sectors (from software development to surgery) are interested in how its principles might apply to their own disciplines.
Aviation practices of this kind that aim to manage or mitigate human factors include:
- extensive use of checklists
- strict rule-following
- extensive cross-checking
- blameless incident analysis
- eliminating authority gradients that make it hard for junior crew to question decisions
Aviation practices across different cultures
These practices and the ideas behind them have largely emerged from western social cultures, and largely in the civilian post-WWII industry, and to a certain extent exemplify aspects of western politics and culture.
Examples of incidents related to cultural human factors
There are many stories (and some are no doubt apocryphal) of how cultural human factors have been involved in incidents. In recent years:
- steep cultural authority gradients:
- a junior first officer reluctant to question an overbearing captain's decisions
- a timid first officer who failed to realise his remote and taciturn captain had actually died
- attitudes to regulation, and attitudes of family/VIP exceptionalism:
- the pilot who allowed a teenaged family member to touch controls in the cockpit
- the pilots who ignored ATC advice to divert in fog because the president and other VIPs were anxious to attend a ceremony
How does cultural difference impinge upon human factors in aviation industry safety?
- How well have they worked (adoption, implementation, outcome) in very different cultures?
- Has it been particularly hard for them to find acceptance in other cultures (this applies not just to non-western cultures, but also for example to military culture in the west, where levels of authority and hierarchy are very significant)?
- Have different approaches been used or tried with better results, in different cultures?