chapter  6
8 Pages

A Critical Component for Air Traffic Control Systems

ByEarl S. Stein

Although systems break down due to mechanical failure, human error is often present to one degree or another (Nagel, 1988). The operator carries the responsibility and blame even though, from a human factors perspective, designers may have built error potential into the system. Human factors are not a new concept in aviation. The name may be relatively new, but the issues related to operators in the loop date to the industrial revolution and, later, to the aviation buildup for World War I. Poor selection and training led to drastically increased personnel losses. Hardware design became an issue later, but researchers focused early efforts on increased care in pilot selection and training. Personnel selection and training became very sophisticated, producing better person-machine systems. Also, aircraft designers began taking display and control human factors seriously. Despite this, however, they fielded systems such as the multipointer altimeter, which was difficult to read even when the crew were not under load and almost impossible when they were (Fitts & Jones, 1947-1960).