Aeromedical Perspective of Human Performance

The Aeromedical Perspective

Based on traditional medical models, this perspective is formulated on the idea that errors are the result of underlying mental or physiological conditions which are ‘triggered’ by environmental conditions or circumstances to influence performance and potentially create an error or accident (Wiegmann & Shappell, 2003).

Some safety experts like Suchman (1961, cited in Wiegmann & Shappell, 2003 ) have created epidemiological models for analysing accidents where 'Predisposed Characteristics'; such as a susceptible pilot, 'Situational Characteristics'; such as risky behaviours and 'Accident Conditions' that might be unexpected or unintentional, can lead to 'Accident Effects', such as injury or damage.

The Aeromedical Perspective places great importance on the physiological state of a pilot, and one factor which is well understood to have an adverse impact on a pilot and their performance is fatigue. Indeed some accident investigations have shown fatigue to be a contributory causal factor in the pilot’s error. The Aeromedical Perspective has worked on overcoming errors linked to fatigue and has been at the forefront of the industry’s formation of policies with regard to work schedules, shift rotations, and minimum crew rest requirements.

But some see the focus of this perspective as being too narrow, and they also argue that many of the physiological affects of flying that can impact on performance (decompression sickness, trapped gas, G-LOC) are now things of the past, thanks to modern aircraft technology and any link between them and pilot error is now hard to see.

1. WIEGMANN, Douglas, & SHAPPELL, Scott (2003). A human error approach to aviation accident analysis: The Human Factors Analysis and Classification System. Burlington. USA: Ashgate Publishing Company.

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Other Perspectives
An introduction to other perspectives for understanding human performance and error.

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Authors / Editors

Anthony FryerAnthony Fryer

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