Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Simulator training alone not enough, experts warn

Excerpts from an article by Jennifer Harrington September 24, 2007. Available from AINonline

Human error is a contributing factor in 60 to 80 percent of all air incidents and accidents, according to FAA statistics. Advisory Circular 120-51E states that many “problems encountered by flight crews have very little to do with the technical aspects of operating in a multi-person cockpit. Instead, problems are associated with poor group decision-making, ineffective communication, inadequate leadership and poor task or resource management.” The facts also show that relatively few corporate flight departments routinely address issues such as human factors and crew resource management (CRM).

Steve Hopkins, chief instructor and senior partner at Century CRM (Booth No. 1217), a pilot-oriented resource management training provider, said part of the problem stems from the fact that most training programs have been developed using outdated data. “Historically, back in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, aircraft weren’t as reliable as they are today,” he said. “If the engine or equipment failed, you needed to know what to do.” As technology advanced, however, hardware failures declined. Unfortunately, “the human factors have stayed pretty constant. People still make the same stupid mistakes,” he said.

“For most operators, 100 percent of their training budget is focused on the simulator, which addresses 20 percent of the accidents,” said Gary Rower, founder of Century CRM. “The human factors, which cause 80 percent of the accidents, go unaddressed.”

Andy Brazier

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