Friday, July 29, 2011

CF-18 Hornet crash focuses on human factors

Bonnyville Nouvelle 28 July 2011

Preliminary report into a crash of a CF-18 Hornet crash has found the aircraft was operating normally and focuses on human factors. It was undergoing two-aircraft formation night vision goggles training mission, The pilot ejected and was unharmed.

The report states that as the pilot selected the landing gear, a sudden rush of falling snow, illuminated by his landing light, disoriented him. It reflected through his head up display and washed out the instrument references used to control the aircraft. He thought he was going to crash, could not tell if his avoidance actions were working so ejected.

The pilot was inexperienced at night flying and had not undergone a night vision goggles mission in 224 days. Direction has been given for night vision goggles training to now start “only after a pilot has increased flying experience.”

The investigation continues.

Poland finds Russia at fault for presidential jet crash

BBC Website 28 July 2011

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Human factors in motor racing

Article in the Washington Post on 13 July 2011

An interesting view of human factors vs technology in Formula 1 and Nascar racing.

It suggests the human factor is being taken out of Formula 1 because so much data is streamed back to technicians in the pits. However, Nascar does not allow this in order to "highlight the human element in racing" and "to make the events more interesting to the consumer."

The implication is that technology means human factors are less relevant in Formula 1 than Nascar. I can see what they are getting at, but not sure I agree with their conclusion. I would suggest that human factors in Nascar is limited to one person (the driver) whereas in Formula 1 it is far more of a team effort, which means different and more complex human factors are involved.

Apparently Williams F1 has worked with AT&T to increase the speed at which data gets transmitted, which is now 25 times faster than a standard broadband setup. "The technology has helped cut down on the number of support staff traveling with F1 teams, as well as the cost."

Spelling mistakes 'cost millions' in lost online sales

BBC Website by Sean Coughlan 14 July 2011

Online entrepreneur Charles Duncombe says that poor spelling is costing the UK millions of pounds in lost revenue and that a single spelling mistake can cut online sales in half.

He says he measured the revenue per visitor to the website and found that the revenue was twice as high after an error was corrected.

"If you project this across the whole of internet retail then millions of pounds worth of business is probably being lost each week due to simple spelling mistakes," says Mr Duncombe, director of the Just Say Please group.

Spelling is important to the credibility of a website, he says. When there are underlying concerns about fraud and safety, then getting the basics right is essential.

When a consumer might be wary of spam or phishing efforts, a misspelt word could be a killer issue”

William Dutton Oxford Internet Institute

"You get about six seconds to capture the attention on a website."

Spelling and grammar are not so important on informal parts of the internet, such as Facebook. However, home pages or commercial offerings that are not among friends and mistakes raise concerns over trust and credibility.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics published last month showed internet sales in the UK running at £527m per week.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ineos fined over Grangemouth refinery oil spill

BBC Website 5 July 2011

The owners of Grangemouth refinery have been fined £100,000 over a spill of highly flammable oil. In the incident, a pipeline became pressurised and sprayed crude oil across a nearby pumphouse and pipelines containing other dangerous liquids.

An investigation found the company had been aware of the risk and the need to install controls.

But it also found Ineos chose to rely on staff to reduce pressure by manually draining oil from the pipeline, and storing it in a skip that was not designed for storing oil.

Further information from SHP magazine 8 July 2011

An incident occurred in May 2007 that resulted in more than 100 litres of crude oil being released on to the floor of a pumphouse. The HSE advised the company to install a hydrostatic release valve, which would divert some of the oil to a storage container once it reached a certain pressure.

However, INEOS failed to act on this suggestion, and it continued to be common practice to allow pressure to build up in the pipes until a warning alarm sounded in the control room when the pressure reached 19 bar. The controller would then instruct a field operative to drain oil from the pipeline to release the pressure.

On 7 May 2008, following a shift change in the control room, staff became confused by the method of work. When the pressure alarm sounded, the controller was unaware that the method of work required him to arrange for the pressure to be released manually. Four hours after the alarm sounded a gasket on the pipeline ruptured and oil began spraying across a nearby pumphouse and adjacent pipelines containing other dangerous substances. Nobody was injured during the leak but it posed a serious risk of causing a fire, or explosion.

According to HSE "Despite having recognised the need for engineered thermal relief on their crude-oil pipelines, following an incident at their refinery a year earlier, INEOS chose instead to rely on a manual system for managing thermal expansion. This system of work actually increased the risk of fire and explosion and ultimately failed to prevent the pipeline from becoming over-pressurised. The risk of over-pressurising pipelines and storage vessels, as a result of thermal expansion, are well-understood, as are the required control measures."

Friday, July 08, 2011

Society has to learn to abhor distracted driving.

NTSB investigation findings 7 July 2011 By Deborah Hersman

The NTSB has determined that a 2010 accident in the Delaware River involving a barge towed by the tugboat Caribbean Sea and killed two Hungarian tourists was caused by the tugboat mate’s failure to maintain a proper lookout due to his repeated use of a cellphone and a laptop computer.

"What’s scary is that no one on board the tugboat objected to the mate’s blatant violation of company policy in making 13 calls and receiving five during the 80 minutes preceding the accident. None of the crew members reported his repeated use of his personal cellphone."

The NTSB has found such use of personal electronic devices to be widespread across all modes of transportation. They included:

* October 2009 - Two airline pilots were out of radio communication with air traffic control for more than an hour because they were distracted by their personal laptops resulting in them overflying their destination by more than 100 miles.
* September 2008 - A commuter train running a red signal in suburban Los Angeles in September 2008 killing 25 and injuring dozens. The engineer, had sent and received 250 text messages during the three days leading up to the accident.
* The driver of a tractor-trailer made 97 calls and received 26 during the 24 hours preceding an accident. And in the half-hour prior to the crash, the driver spent 14 minutes — nearly half his time — on the phone. Ten people died that day after the truck crossed a median.

"Despite company policies, public education campaigns, and, in some places, laws designed to minimize driver distraction, many people continue to engage in unsafe and unacceptable behavior, thinking." "We have to change public tolerance for such distractions and elevate society’s disapproval of the use of personal electronic devices while operating a vehicle."

In 1967, the NTSB investigated the midair collision of a Piedmont Airlines Boeing 727 and a private twin-engine aircraft, which killed all 82 people aboard both planes. The original investigation showed that shortly after takeoff, crew members aboard the 727 discussed a fire in a cockpit ashtray and joked among themselves as they put it out. At the time, cigarette smoking and burning cockpit ashtrays were so common that the NTSB did not even mention the “detail” in the final report.

Today, of course, we can’t imagine smoking in an airplane, much less the cockpit, without anyone’s taking notice. So what has changed since 1967? Cultural and societal expectations. Smoking on airplanes is not only not allowed; it’s not even remotely considered.

Congress first banned smoking on planes in 1988. That law, which applied to flights of two hours or less, took two decades of pressure from health and consumer organizations, as well as repeated warnings about the dangers of secondhand smoke by the National Academy of Sciences and the surgeon general. Today, more than two decades after that initial legislation, society’s disapproval of smoking on airplanes — and in many other public places — is pervasive.

We have to reach the point where texting, phoning, and engaging in other distracting behaviors while operating a vessel, train, or motor vehicle are just as unacceptable as smoking on an airplane. How many more lives will we lose before we correct our tacit and deadly acceptance of distraction?

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Electoral Commission sorry for out-of-date AMs advice

BBC news 5 July 2011

The elections watchdog has apologised after a new Welsh assembly member fell victim to out-of-date guidance for candidates and was disqualified.

An independent investigation found Liberal Democrat Aled Roberts did everything reasonably expected.

The relevant guidance was changed before the election, but only the English language document was updated. The AM only referred to the Welsh language version, which was out of date.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Why? How? Prove it

Just googling around looking at tips to improve my presentation skills. Came across

The suggestion is a four stage approach.

1. Key Message - Leave your audience in absolutely no doubt what you came to tell them in a succinct way

2. Explain to your audience "why should I do that?"

3. Explain how they can do it (this is examples, and actually the least important part of the presentation)

4. Use personal examples, case studies and statistics to prove you are talking sense.

WHPI - seems like a good way of focussing the mind when preparing.