AVIF0021 – Human Factors

Learning Objectives

At the end of this lesson, you should be able to correctly:

  • Identify what Non-Technical Skills can improve performance?
  • Define Human Factors and describe how significant this is to high-risk industries?
  • What lifestyle factors affect Human Factors

Aviation History at a Glance

What is Airmanship?


What is Aviate, Navigate, Communicate?

It’s a priority tool, it helps us prioritise.

It’s a great start but let’s understand more of what we need for maintaining safety.

Aviation Safety

Since the 50s accident rates have been reducing and are asymptotic, that is they have reduced close to zero per million departures but they are not zero.

The graph above shows that we have a relatively safe industry. The curve is not at zero however, as accidents still occur.


Why were there so many accidents? This was the beginning of the jet era. Engineering design and maintenance practices were having large learning experiences. Improved regulation and systemic practices helped drive this accident rate down.

Accidents in RPAS Operations

Do you think pilots are getting worse or do you think that these issues were always there? Like the tide going out and exposing the rocks at low tide?

Now with vast improvements to aircraft and technology, we are just seeing the human causes that were always there!

We are going to be taking a closer look at the human element of this graph as this can be directly influenced through training.

Pilot Skills

Assessing a Pilot’s Skills

Traditionally, we focus on training and assessing technical skills.

Non-Technical Skills (NTS) is a relatively new concept of increasing emphasis as a result of regulatory reform. This was added by CASA around 2010 to the required training matrix.

Statistically, most accidents are blamed on NTS deficiencies, where the crew are the cause of the event. However, most of our training and assessment focus has been on the technical skills side of the training.

Hierarchy of Skills

Consider the following skills that a pilot needs:

  • Which of these then is more important than the other? (non-compensatory skills)
  • Do some of these feed into others?
  • Are some of these causal for others?
  • Can a deficiency in one area be made up for by a strength in another?
Model for Assessing a Pilots Performance (MAPP)

The Model for Assessing a Pilots Performance (MAPP) is broken up into the following categories:

  • Essential Skills (must haves)
  • Enabling Skills (supporting essential skills)
Mavin (2010)

If we are filling up each of these blocks and bubbles, we will have high levels of situational awareness, make safe decisions and fly our UAV well, we have Airmanship (if this indeed still a word).

In any case we are flying professionally. However this model is more powerful as it can diagnose the source of weaknesses. The MAPP is about being able to refine down to a ‘Root Cause” of an event. If your essential skills are lacking then improve by improving skills that support them, the enabling skills.

Breaking down the MAPP

On the left side are the traditional flying skills. On the right side are the NOTECHS or NTS skills.

Mavin (2010)

Both Situational Awareness and Decision Management occur internally in the brain. They are cognitive skills.

The skills of Communication and Management are more visual skills seen through behaviour. These are about actions.

Lifestyle Factors

Physiological conditions will affect both cognitive and behavioural skills.

Cognitive Skills (Psychological conditions):

  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Health/ Memory
  • Disorientation/ Visual Illusions
  • Hazardous attitudes

Behavioural Skills (Physiological conditions):

  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Health
  • Effects of the environment
  • Culture

So what is Human Factors?

Human factors is a multidisciplinary effort to generate and compile information about human capabilities and limitations and apply that information to produce safe, comfortable and effective human performance.

For more information, see ICAO 2014: https://www.icao.int/APAC/Meetings/2014%20CNSSG18/IP05_USA%20AI.%2011%20-%20Human%20Factors.pdf

AVIF0021 – Communication

Learning Objectives

At the end of this lesson, you should be able to correctly:

  • Describe barriers to communication.
  • Identify the difference between one-way and two-way communication.
  • State a method for increasing assertive communication.

Definition of Communication

What is Communication?

Communication can be made in many different forms:

  • Verbal
  • Visual (physical movements)
  • Written or Recorded
  • Physical Interactions (pushing, turning away)

In aviation, we tend to focus on the two following categories:

  • Non verbal / body language, formal / non-formal
  • Written reports/ assignments, vlogs, texting, forms etc

It is critical as pilots that we learn to communicate well with others. This reduces risk, and as such, reduces the chance of an accident or other human errors.

How Communication Works

Communication involves sending and receiving information. A common definition is:

Communication is the effective transfer of meaning

Effective communication means that the sender and the receiver have a shared mental model (or picture in their head).

Applying Communication Skills

Communication effects all parts of aviation, and is what threads all parts of the MAPP together!

Source: Mavin (2010)

Communication skills assist with:

  • Management
  • Knowledge sharing
  • RPAS flown within tolerance with support from team
  • Situational Awareness
  • Decision Making

Effective Communication

How do we communicate?

Often, quite poorly.

What makes communication effective?

Communication should be:

  • Clear and concise
  • Correct
  • Timely
  • Receptive
  • Open
Cognitive vs Behavioural

Cognitive skills can be viewed as the tip of the iceberg, where decision-making and performance are observed.

The behavioural skills which support these cognitive skills are dependent on EQ, or Emotional Intelligence.

EQ – Emotional Intelligence Quotient

Emotional Intelligence:

“The capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.”

Daniel Goleman (1998)
EQ – Research

“Research shows that for jobs of all kinds, emotional intelligence is twice as important an ingredient of outstanding performance as cognitive ability and technical skill combined

Daniel Goleman

Daniel Goleman studied 188 companies, including British Airways.

  • Research shows Emotional Intelligence is the quality that separates good from the great.
  • 2 x more effective than IQ and Technical Skills.
  • The higher the rank of the employee, the more EQ was an indicator of performance.

Emotional Intelligence indicates how well you operate as a team member. Emotional Intelligence tests are one-way employers are able to predict future performance.

EQ – Communication

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to filter a stimulus by interpreting, with reference to others around us then behaving in an appropriate manner.

This is the essence of emotional intelligence.

EQ – Expressing empathy

Not What you say, but How you say it….

Which determines What is heard by the listener…

Pilots on the job have reduced influence of body language as they are mostly looking towards their RPA. Therefore Pitch, Tone and Emotions become significant.

Components of Communication

Communication Breakdown
Percentage breakdown of the impact of the components of communication.
How important are words?
The Two Ronnie skit – Four Candles (03:25)
Information flow

The flow of information is:

  • The giving and receiving of information
  • Impart, convey, reveal
  • Exchange information
  • A two way process

A command or statement is not communication, it’s a one-way process with no feedback. Real communication requires a two way process to exchange information.

Communication is a two-way process of achieving a mutual understanding in which participants not only exchange information, ideas and feelings but also create and share meaning.

Point to achieve that flow (particularly as an active listener):

  • Make the mental choice to TUNE IN and listen to the message.
  • ASK QUESTIONS and try and see the transmitters perspective.
  • Where possible maintain EYE CONTACT to show you are attentive.
  • Try to listen for the whole message and not mentally prepare a rebuttal while the transmitter is still speaking by exercising PATIENCE.
  • Listen respectfully without judgement and without getting defensive. STAY OBJECTIVE
  • Finally, by summarising or paraphrasing you are able to TEST FOR UNDERSTANDING to ensure that you have correctly understood the communication.
What happens when communication goes wrong?

Some barriers to good communication:

  • Interpersonal Issues – Status, Gender, Conflicts
  • Environment – Noise, Temperature, Weather conditions
  • Cultural Differences – Language or accents, norms, customs etc
  • Physical Barriers – Radio not turned on, face masks
  • Position / Location – Out of sight – can you see body language?, out of hearing range – can you hear sound/ voice?
  • Technology constraints – Are the radios working or tuned correctly?
  • Filtering – Perception and view point affects interpretation.
  • Other Human Factors eg fatigue
  • Non-Standard Phraseology
Bystander Effect – Diffusion of Responsibility

What if the bystanders observe a hazard? How likely will they be to speak up?

Researchers believe that the reason that people often struggle to speak up, especially when they are lower in status, is that they do not feel psychologically safe to do so.

Psychological safety is a person’s sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject, or punish someone for speaking up” and this confidence comes from a sense of mutual respect and trust amongst team members. People tend to speak up freely when they feel psychologically safe – that is, when they are not influenced by the fear of people disproving, or by concern about the personal or professional costs.

The bystander effect makes us less likely to intervene when more people are present. For example, when lots of people are present we feel that the responsibility is shared or that others are more responsible to say something.

Behaviour types

Behaviour towards the team can affect the effectiveness of leadership.

A rational person will tend to stay rational, moving up or down depending on circumstances. A person with emotional responses will tend to remain emotional, moving up or down depending on mood and circumstances.

Ideally a pilot will remain on the left, consciously keeping a rational response style.

Assertive: (Calm, in Control):

When you make decisions without consulting me I feel annoyed because I am also responsible in the long run.


I understand that it must have been difficult to have made that decision by yourself – is there anything I can help you to clarify now that I am available.

Aggressive: (Lost control):

How dare you make that decision without consulting me, you have no right – that’s my job.

Submissive: (Doesn’t seem to want control):

Ops have reduced my fuel load for the next sector. It’s legal and we’re running late, so I guess we’ll just do what they want.

Speaking up about Non-Compliance

Have you observed a crew member doing the wrong thing? Intentionally? Non-intentionally?

  • Example: ‘Just a self brief on that chart’
  • Is there anything in our operation that is a violation but is relatively common?
  • Did you say something?

Normalized Deviancy is part of decision-making in guarding against intentional non-compliance! What helps us with avoiding non-compliance or normalized deviancy? 

  • Support Language
  • Safety reporting systems /Managers
  • SOPS/Manuals/Safety Alerts/Training
Support Language for Assertion (CASE)

90% of the time we should be in the green and blue! Good communication skills will rarely go into the SE of this model, they are dealt with in the C and A.

For example:

  • Communicate Information: The first thing you would do is to Relay information, just say what you see! Drawing someone’s attention to the issue may be all that is needed. For example: ‘Be advised we have a low voltage alarm.’
  • Ask if they are aware: The next action is to Ask if they are aware, it gives them a bit more context about the situation, for example: ‘Are you aware that we are time limited?’
  • Solution Offered: An example of offering a solution might be: ‘A return to land is recommended.’ If someone is under a lot of pressure they may not have the head space to think of what the solution should be, this helps them out.
  • Emergency Language: The Emergency Language is only ever used if you don’t have any time left and, if you don’t act, an incident could easily happen. Using the person’s name and an urgent tone is a good way to get someone’s attention even when they are focused on another task. For example: ‘John! Land now. Critical battery ’

Case Study

United Express 5925
  • 19th November 1996, Quincy Illinois, USA
  • Collision at the intersection of two runways
  • RPT B1900C 2 experienced pilots 10 passengers
  • Training/AWK King Air A90 2 experienced pilots 
  • Training Piper Cherokee 1 low time pilot
Case Study Analysis
Note: Callsigns of aircraft have been changed in this video but the incident is all correctly depicted.
  • What factors played a part in this accident?
  • What could the crew of the 1900 have done to make their communication more effective?
  • What could the crew of the KingAir have done to improve their communication?
  • Standard phraseology of the radio calls? Was it correct from the KingAir? Did this contribute to the confusion?
  • Was the communication clear, timely and correct from all involved?