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Title: Substandard flight crew performance : recurrent human factors in flight crew initiated aircraft incidents and accidents
Author: Newell, Raymond
ISNI:       0000 0004 7970 9951
Awarding Body: Loughborough University
Current Institution: Loughborough University
Date of Award: 2017
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The objective of this research has been to understand more about aviation accidents in which the actions of the flight crew members (hereafter FCMs) were the main cause. A new construct has been developed known as substandard flight crew performance (hereafter SFP) to provide framework and context for this research. To support this construct, the most recurrent examples of SFP were identified from analysis of decades of investigations and reports. Based upon the frequency of occurrence, the potential contribution to aviation safety, and the feasibility of conducting meaningful research, three diverse but interconnected factors have been identified. The first of these related to the recurrent influence of verbal phenomena in aviation accidents, in particular, distracting conversations and unclear communications. The literature indicated that even those tasked with investigating accidents where these phenomena had been present understood very little about the underlying reasons for their occurrence. Furthermore, although these phenomena have been studied within more general research populations, as far as is known, no previous research has examined their function in the aviation context. A questionnaire and unstructured interviews with FCMs resulted in two taxonomies, both of which have been supported by ethnographic observations. The next strand of this research critically examined some of the reasons why some flight crews become unsure of their position or orientation whilst navigating both in flight and on the ground, a phenomenon that has been associated with some of the most serious instances of SFP. This original contribution to aviation knowledge involved experiments utilising realistic navigation stimuli and measurement of cognitive load and spatial awareness. All human activity is embedded within a context, and this thesis contends that the influence of context is underspecified in existing knowledge of aviation human factors. As far as is known no previous research has examined how FCMs might be influenced to make errors as a result of aspects of their environmental and situational context. The contextual cueing strand of this research consisted of a series of original experiments which examined the extent to which contextual cues might be implicated in instances of SFP. The three research strands outlined in this thesis are intended to demonstrate how the detailed study of specific categories of SFP, such as loss of positional awareness or unclear communications, can unearth contributory factors that might otherwise have been overlooked. Furthermore, it will be demonstrated that each of the research strands addresses current issues at the forefront of aviation safety.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Mechanical Engineering not elsewhere classified