The human mind is infinitely more complex than any mechanical device on the face of the earth, and much of its functioning is still unpredictable. Around 80% of all accidents are caused by human error (www.faa.gov)1. In fact, dig dip into any accident, and the balance 20% can also in all probability be traced back to human as the root cause. Human factors encompass a wide range of knowledge, skills and attitudes including communications, situational awareness, problem solving, decision-making, and teamwork. What would, or should have otherwise been, a simple straightforward decision based on (presumably) clearly defined rules, very often has been colored by extraneous factors that are weighed on unfathomable weighing scales inside the human minds
Aviation is basically a combination of four ingredients, viz. Man, Machine, Medium and Mission - the four Ms. Successful integration of all the four culminates in a safe flight. Safety in aviation is achieved by implementation of in stringent measures at various levels - be the production, training or operations. Great emphasis is given towards production of aircraft. Innumerable test sorties are flown on prototypes before clearing them for production. Once came into the service, maintenance schedules are laid down at various stages to ensure trouble free flying. Similarly the crew operating the aircraft undergoes rigorous training to hone their flying skills. Great emphasis is given towards training of ground crew too, which encompasses all crew not flying but directly or indirectly associated with flying operations.
Various checks are instituted to monitor the health of aircraft and the knowledge of aircrews and ground crews. Despite so much concern and effort however, accidents do take place due to varied reasons and it has been found that the man behind the machine causes almost 80% of the accidents in aviation due to omissions or commissions. Why is it so' Why does the same specie, that gas designed and mastered the machine and understood its intricacies, cause an accident due to an error' How is the man weakest link among Four Ms' These are the questions that need to be answered in the interest of flight safety.
2.0 Human factors
Human factors comprise of human capabilities, process control and automation, talent attainment, system examination and plan, information processing and display, operator workload, and task-induced pressure, environmental effects on performance, human-computer communication and accident prevention. Human factors are concerned with the cognitive and interpersonal skills mandatory to control the flight within a prearranged aviation system. Cognitive skills are the psychological processes required for gaining and maintaining situational awareness for solving problems and for making decisions. Interpersonal skills comprise of successful communications and excellent teamwork. Good interpersonal skills support the creation of synergy and the growth of successful cooperation. Both cognitive and interpersonal skills are improved by a good emotional environment amongst the crew, but they are also easily degraded by stress, so administration of the emotional climate and stress becomes an essential and significant building block of good human factors. Human factors play significant