20Th Century Capstone Project

Pages: 40 (12849 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 40  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Transportation


The Investigator, as mentioned above has the overall coordination responsibility on the site. It is in the way in which it conducts the investigation that the results can be rapidly identified. This is also due to the fact that "the designated investigator-in- charge organizes, conducts, controls, and manages the field phase of the investigation, regardless of whether a Board Member is also on-scene at the accident or incident site. (The role of the Board member at the scene of an accident investigation is as the official spokes-person for the Safety Board.) The IIC has the responsibility and authority to supervise and coordinate all resources and activities of all personnel, both Board and non-Board, involved in the on-site investigation." (Federal Aviation Administration, 2010)

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Another important role of the Investigator, regardless of the type of action or possible cause of accident is its capacity and authority to record and provide for future reference the situation on the ground. More precisely, "the investigator makes his or her greatest contribution to air safety by documenting the reasons why aircraft occupants were fatally or seriously injured in survivable accidents" (Federal Aviation Administration, 2010) This comes to point out the essential role of the investigator to conduct the necessary research and coordinate the efforts on the ground so that answers to questions such as why as a result of an accident, certain passengers survived, while others, placed in a different part of an aircraft, did not. For instance, such a question attracts a series of considerations related to the actual conditions in which the accident took place, from the positioning of the aircraft, to the damages at the cockpit or the way in which fatal injuries occurred or not. Information of this type, combined with a complex number of processes that make up the investigation process, can reveal possible causes for the accident, can determine a flight error or, on the contrary, a machine fatal crash. The records of this type of analysis are vital for the records of the investigation and can be referenced in the future for improvements of trainings, of machine-related considerations or even as case studies in flight schools.

TOPIC: Capstone Project on 20Th Century Has Been One Assignment

One of the most significant issues under analysis however is related to the accidents that take place as a result of human error. It is the belief that human error is at the foundation of whether an accident can take place or not, particularly because it is the pilot that makes the decisions determined by the conditions in the air. At the same time though, it must be pointed out that the pilot is above all, dealing with a machine, regardless of the advanced technology on board. Therefore, there have been accidents when the role of human error in an accident has been without equivoque, but, in general, human error is determined by outside factors, such as mechanics or weather conditions.

Along the time a vast research in the area of reasons for aviation accidents has been conducted. At least until the 21st century, the general conclusion was that the main reason for aviation accidents has been the human error. In this sense, "It is generally accepted by accident investigators in the field that aviation accidents are the result of a chain of events culminating with the unsafe acts of operators (i.e., aircrew)… Although percentages vary, most would agree that somewhere between 60% and 80% of aviation accidents are attributable, at least in part, to human error" (Shappell, 2007). Aside from academic research conducted on this subject, aircraft producers consider human factors to be responsible for the production of accidents in a very large degree. More precisely, Boeing, one of the largest aircraft manufacturers in the world cosniders that "Human error has been documented as a primary contributor to more than 70% of commercial airplane hull-loss accidents. While typically associated with flight operations, human error has also recently become a major concern in maintenance practices and air traffic management." (Boeing, 2014)

There are several definitions of "human factors" when applied to the aviatic industry. One of these definition include the broader sense of human cosndieration of training and actual capacity and expertise of the pilots and maintaininace crew. In other words, "In aviation, human factors is dedicated to better understanding how humans can most safely and efficiently be integrated with the technology. That understanding is then translated into design, training, policies, or procedures to help humans perform better." (Boeing, 2014)

As per the FAA, human factors take into account the performance of the individuals that are part of the process of piloting, maintainnace, building and even designing the aircrafts. In this sense, the approach provided by the FAA is human oriented in the sense that it takes into account the human nature of the overall mechanisms. More precisely, "It is a term that covers the science of understanding the properties of human capability, the application of this understanding to the design, development, and deployment of systems and services, and the art of ensuring successful application of human factor principles into the maintenance working environment." (Federal Aviation Administration, n.d.) A recent chart from the FAA suggests that in 1903 the cause of the accidents was almost always the technical part of the aircraft. As the technologies improved, the human factors were more and more a cause of the accidents and this situation culminates with today's situation of almost 80% of accidents to be the result of human error.

The investigator at the scene of an aviatic accident must take into account the fact that human factor data represents one of the most important aspects to be immediately analyzed and considered. This is due to the fact that this evidence is seen as perishable and should be treated with care and immediate attention. Most importantly the investigator needs to preserve the scene and to be particularly careful about the details. The way in which the investigator puts the pieces together and establishes the role each of the elements played in causing the accident represents the added value for further research and the recommendations mmade to the Safety Management System (SMS).

The investigator analyzes the human factors by reviewing several key areas where human error can appear: the pilots and the maintenance area. Issues such as stress, fatigue, working extra hours, the working environment to be stressful, all these are part of the distress factors that cause a general state of mind inappropriate for conducting actions as brain solicitation during flight. According to the FAA, part of the factors that determine human errors include "fatigue, loud noises, poor communication, lack of tools and equipment, slippery floors, snow, incomplete or incorrect documentation, poorly designed testing for skill and knowledge, poor training, personal life problems, substance abuse, poor tool control, unrealistic deadlines, boring repetitive jobs, poor instructions, lack of spare parts" (Federal Aviation Administration, n.d.) These elements are essential to be taken into account by investigators as they can shed some light on the human conditions at the movement of the accident.

As it can be seen from the list of possible factors named above, the elements under discussion can take into consideration all the areas of the flight segment, from the pilot to the maintenance crew. This is largely due to the fact that the Investigator must take into consideration all the human elements that could become relevant or whose limited performance could impact the overall performance of the crew and the accident under analysis.

Following an investigation, it is the duty of the Investigator to provide the recommendations to the SMS because, it is considered that the investigation's role is not necessary to find the responsible parties and punish, but rather to improve for the future the safety measures and to ensure that the causes related to human factors and/or technical issues are reduced. Therefore, the main responsibility of the Investigator is to share its findings and provide recommendations. In terms of the human factors that are at the basis of an accident, if identified, need to be corrected. One example in this sense can be the reduction in working hours or the improvement of working conditions for the maintenance crew. On the other hand, if fatigue is considered to have played a role in the accident and the pilot/s were identified as overworking, a possible recommendation would be a closer monitoring of the working hours and a more careful analysis of pre-flight human conditions. The same is applicable for the rest of the on-board crew as they are an integral part of the human flight mechanism.

Another essential part of the role of the investigator is to evaluate the safety program procedures and draw a conclusion on the results of the incident. This includes the impact of human factors and human error on the incident and how to prevent it from happening again. The recommendations then become an integral part of the improvement of the Safety Management Systems that are set in place… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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