Human Factors is concerned with the application of what we know about human beings, their abilities, characteristics, and limitations, to the design of equipment they use, environments in which they function, and jobs they perform.

Why are human conditions, such as fatigue, complacency, and stress, so important in aviation? These conditions, along with many others, are called human factors.

Human factors directly cause or contribute to many aviation accidents and have been documented as a primary contributor to more than 70 percent of aircraft accidents. Typically, human factor incidents/accidents are associated with flight operations but recently have also become a major concern in aviation maintenance and air traffic management as well.

The study of Human Factors is about understanding human behavior and performance. When applied to aviation operations, Human Factors knowledge is used to optimize the fit between people and the systems in which they work in order to improve safety and performance.

Over the past several years, the FAA has made the study and research of human factors a top priority by working closely with engineers, pilots, mechanics, and ATC to apply the latest knowledge about human factors in an effort to help operators and maintainers improve safety and efficiency in their daily operations.

Human factors science, or human factors technologies, is a multidisciplinary field incorporating contributions from psychology, engineering, industrial design, statistics, operations research, and anthropometry. It is a term that covers the science of understanding the properties of human capability, the application of this understanding to the design, development, and deployment of systems and services, and the art of ensuring successful application of human factor principles into all aspects of aviation to include pilots, ATC, and aviation maintenance.

Human factors are often considered synonymous with CRM or maintenance resource management (MRM) but is really much broader in both their knowledge base and scope. Human factors involve gathering research specific to certain situations (i.e., flight, maintenance, stress levels, knowledge) about human abilities, limitations, and other characteristics and applying it to tool design, machines, systems, tasks, jobs, and environments to produce safe, comfortable, and effective human use. The entire aviation community benefits greatly from human factors research and development as it helps better understand how humans can most safely and efficiently perform their jobs and improve the tools and systems in which they interact.

Human Performance

Human Performance represents the human contribution to system performance and refers to how people perform their work.

Human Performance considerations are key to enabling safe operations, whether focused on flight and cabin crew, air traffic operators, maintenance engineers, or other aviation professionals.

Human Performance Principles

  • Principle 1: People’s performance is shaped by their capabilities and limitations
  • Principle 2: People interpret situations differently and perform in ways that make sense to them
  • Principle 3: People adapt to meet the demands of a complex and dynamic work environment
  • Principle 4: People assess risks and make trade-offs
  • Principle 5: People’s performance is influenced by working with other people, technology, and the environment

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