Human factor in passenger cabin design

Passenger Cabin Design

The passenger cabin represents a significant human factors challenge related to both passengers and cabin crews. Human factors principles usually associated with the flight deck are now being applied to examine human performance functions and ensure that cabin crews and passengers are able to do what they need or want to do. Some recent examples illustrate how the passenger cabin can benefit from
human factors expertise applied during design. These include
Automatic over wing exit.
Other cabin applications.

Automatic over wing exit

The 737-600/-700/-800/-900 is equipped with an improved version of the over wing emergency exit (fig. 4), which opens automatically when activated by a passenger or cabin or flight crew member. Human performance and ergonomics methods played important roles in both its design and testing. Computer analyses using human models ensured that both large and small people would be able to operate the exit door without injury. The handle was redesigned and tested to ensure that anyone could operate the door using either single or double hand grips.
Then, approximately 200 people who were unfamiliar with the design and who had never operated an over wing exit participated in tests to verify that the average adult can operate the exit in an emergency. The exit tests revealed a significantly improved capability to evacuate the airplane. This major benefit was found to be unique to the 737 configuration. The human factors methodology applied during test design and data analysis contributed significantly to refining the door mechanism design for optimal performance.

Other cabin applications

Working with payloads designers, human factors specialists also evaluate cabin crew and passenger reach capability, placard comprehension, emergency lighting adequacy, and other human performance issues. Because of the focus on human capabilities and limitations, the analyses and design recommendations are effective in reducing potential errors and in increasing usability and satisfaction with Boeing products. More general issues of human usability have also been addressed. For instance, human factors specialists collaborated with engineers in various studies during 767-400ER program design. The reach and visibility of the passenger service units components were reviewed so cabin crews could use them more easily and effectively. The glare ratio on the sidewalls was analyzed and improved for increased passenger comfort. In addition, the cabin crew panel for controlling the in-flight entertainment system was modified for easier operation and maintainability.

1. BILLINGS C & LAWRENCE ERLBAUM (1997). Aviation Automation: The Search for a Human-Centered Approach.
2. FAA (1996). Human factors design guide. Retrieved from Federal aviation administration on 28 October 2011.
3. ATSB (1998). Advanced Technology Aircraft Safety Survey Report. Retrieved from Australian transportation safety board on 28 October 2011.
4. FAA (1995). Human Performance Considerations in the Use and Design of Aircraft Checklists. Retrieved from Federal aviation administration on 28 October 2011.

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