The Human Factors Analysis and Classification System

The Human Factors Analysis and Classification System

Question 1: How would safety professionals utilize HFACS

The Human Factors Analysis and Classification System (HFACS) is a tool that analyzes and investigates aviation accidents that occur due to human errors. The United States’ military were the first to design and use this human error framework. HFACS reports and touches on human error issues at all points of the system, (Stolzer & Halford, 2008) including the states of organizational and aircrew factors. The HFACS has been confirmed to encompass all human casual factors associated with commercial, military, and general aviation. The civil aviation arena, after using reports of accidents, which took place between 1990 and 1996, demonstrated that HFACS tool could be a practicable tool for analyzing the causes of accidents (Wiegmann & Shappell, 2003). Since human error has been connected with most occupational accidents, it should not be of great surprise given that humans naturally make mistakes. Violations as well as errors emanating from physical or mental activities, may result in accidents. The former represents outright disregard for the aviation industry’s stipulated rules and regulations for safety flight. Even though the technology is making inroads at high rates in the present world, human factors still plays significant roles in enhancing the overall safety and progress in this lucrative industry. Humans must maintain their knowledge base, dedication, flexibility, and efficiency while making just decisions. With unpredictable rates of technological evolution, this industry keeps investing in training human personnel in order to make relevant decisions as per the current state (Stolzer & Halford, 2008). Human performance implication assessment requires a sound scientific basis that can have an overview of the design, training, and procedures. Safety professionals, therefore, can use the HFACS as a tool for training crews in order to eliminate incidents and accidents emanating from human error.

Safety professionals have the duty of utilizing HFACS to train airline operators to minimize possible human errors. Specifically, the professionals use the tool to scrutinize the process involved in preventing numerous accidents that arise from human error. According to Wise, Hopkin, and Garland (2009), most aircraft incidents and accidents are due to human errors rather than mechanical failure. This has necessitated the need for analyzing various human factors that can affect the movement of aircrafts by the air traffic management and maintenance practices in order to improve safety. According to Salas and Maurino (2010), human factors entail acquiring information about human capabilities, weaknesses and other parameters, and inculcating them in the crew resource management (CRM) to enhance aircrafts’ safety. In the aviation industry, the entire process involves applying the human factors in machines, environment, and systems to make aircraft services effective, safe, and comfortable for all users. Markedly, human factors tend to comprehend in details how the aviation industry can integrate human actions with technology in efficient and safe ways (Wiegmann & Shappell, 2001). After vivid conceptions, the whole concept translates into procedures, designs, and policies in order to improve humans’ performances within the crucial aviation industry.

Question 2: How can HFACS aid in addressing the human factors performance issues in accidents and incidents?

Human Factors Analysis and Classification System helps classify errors, violations, and maintenance factors, thus making it possible to control the nature of fatalities resulting from aircraft accidents. Clearly, HFACS addresses human errors at all dimensions of an aircraft system. At the same time, the inclusion of an extensive civil aviation safety program can aid the functions of HFACS. Human factors try to mitigate risks and inefficiency, thus improving the performance or success of aircrafts. HFACS can help in addressing human factor performance by focusing on a comprehensive analysis of human factors accountable for aviation incidents. Data analysis of various incidents and accidents due to human errors can be of great importance in using HFACS to address human factor performance issues (Ausrotas & Hansman, 1984). Currently, in the case of Boeing, human factors specialists coordinate with cognitive engineers, air traffic controllers, and flight crews in route planning and communication through data link messages (Baker, 1998). Recent technological changes have enhanced user understanding, minimized cost of training facilities, and reduced error rates. Under maintainability and in-service support, unrelenting attention on human factors have enhanced safety and operational efficiency. In maintenance, Boeing considers the participation of mechanics, customer support processes, and computer-aided maintainability design tools. In this functionality, human factors specialists work together with production and airline engineers in implementing airline maintenance features. In free flight, the process of transferring command authority unambiguously and dynamically between ground and air remains a major human factor (Fuller, Johnston, & McDonald, 1995).

To decrease the rates of aviation incidents and fatalities, the industry designs human-aircraft interfaces and builds up measures for maintaining technocrats and flight crews (Anca, 2007). This move results in enhancement of human performances, thus advancing reliability, usability, comfort-ability, and maintainability. Human factor specialists at the Boeing Company designs aircrafts that take into concern the needs of the pilots, customers and control operators. In essence, human factors play key roles in the aviation industry even though technology tries to perform other human functions. As a result, safety professionals have to work closely with technicians, crews, engineers to include human factors when designing all planes (Stolzer & Halford, 2008). Some of the areas that require inclusion of human factors include error management, flight deck design, design for in-service support, and passenger cabin design (Connor & Cohn, 2010). On flight design, safety and reliability has been the center of focus as recent developments have helped to reduce accident rates and increase efficiency. Notably, flight design changes in engines, structures, and systems have prevented and mitigated human error. In new flight designs, Boeing ensures that recent technological applications meet the needs of customers, crew, and appropriate degree of automation requirements.

Question 3: Different levels of HFACS and their interaction   

Human Factors Analysis and Classification System have four different levels, which touch on latent failures and active errors. Within the four levels, there are 19 causal categories (Salvendy, 2012). The levels include unsafe acts, preconditions for unsafe acts, unsafe supervision, and organization influences. Reason’s model divides unsafe act level into errors and violations. Errors are unintentional outcomes, while violations are disregard for the rules of the aviation industry (Ausrotas & Hansman, 1984). Under errors, there are perceptual errors, decision errors, and skill-based errors, while there are exceptional and routine violations. The second level, preconditions for unsafe acts, has three categories with further subdivisions. Condition of operators, environmental factors, and personnel factors are the three categories for level two. Physiological state, mental state, and physical limitations fall under the condition of operators; they can affect practices and result in unsafe situations (Dismukes, 2009). Technological and physical factors affecting activities of persons constitute environmental factors. Lastly, personal readiness aspects and crew resource management (CRM) fall under personnel factors; they affect actions of individuals, thus leading to unsafe conditions. Unsafe supervision has four categories: supervisory violations, failure to correct known problems, plan inappropriate operation, and inadequate supervision (Wiener & Nagel, 1988). Supervisory violation occurs when a supervisor willfully disregards existing aviation rules and regulations. A supervisor may also fail to provide effective and efficient services to the crew. Organizational influence, which is the fourth level, is divided into three categories, namely resource management, operational process, and organizational climate. The overall management of organizational assets is deliberated on at this level, as well as analysis of the working environment with its policies, structure, and culture (Williams, 2004). From the vivid analysis of the four levels of HFACS, there exist close interaction between the levels to prevent incidents and accidents that may occur due to human actions. The overall management of decision-making process to the actual role of supervisors indicates a closed-set of levels aimed at enhancing safety in the aviation industry (Stolzer & Halford, 2008).


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Wise, J. A., Hopkin, V. D., & Garland, D. J. (2009). Handbook Of Aviation Human Factors, Second Edition. New York: Taylor and Francis Group.

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