Sustaining an Airport operations human factors program

Sustaining an Airport operations human factors (AOHF) program

The sustaining and justifying of an airport operations human factors program apply to all the other individual human factors programs like Procedural compliance, Injury prevention, Human factors training, Alertness management, Shift and task turnover, Event investigation and Auditing and assessment. The AOHF programs initially get off to a good start but they find it difficult to sustain over long term to achieve the desired results.

The different challenges involved in sustaining a human factors program are

  • Changes made in the management policies and projects
  • Lack of cost justification.
  • Limited program integration.

The importance of sustaining an Airport operations human factors program

According to FAA (2007)1 sustaining an AOHF program is important because

  • The airport operations human factors program benefits are not immediately achievable, a long term commitment is to be established to obtain the desired results.
  • The organizational practices, procedures and cultural changes needs a long term sustained human factors program.
  • The motivation and enthusiasm for a particular human factors program will subsidize if the programs are changing constantly in a short span of time.
  • The programs must be developed and sustained long enough to collect the measurement data and demonstrate the results with a Return on Investment (ROI).

How to sustain an Airport operations human factors program1

The following are the different ways by which an airport operations human factors can be made to sustain long term to achieve the desired results.

  • The program should be selected such that it has sufficient detail to secure a policy level commitment from the airport leadership and the workforce.
  • A interdepartmental steering committee should be established to monitor the progress of the program. The committee is a formed as a result of the collaborative effort of the workforce and the management.
  • There should be consistency in the program plan which includes the organizations mission, values, policies, procedures and corporate viability.
  • In a move to improve the system efforts can be made to develop individual and team level recognition systems which acknowledges everyone's contribution.
  • The teams should be prepared for handling occasional setbacks, and they must be capable of examining the setback and develop recovery strategies on time, such that it does not affect the progress of the entire program.
  • Recurrent training should be provided to the workforce and regular meeting should be conducted between the management and the workforce to share the organizational goals, successes and lessons learned from the previous events.
  • The human factors programs should be established on a reasonable and consistently applied written company disciplinary policy.
  • Human factors seminars and workshops can be organized and the workforce must participate in those to keep the program fresh and energized.

Thus the above presented are the different procedures that can be adopted to make a human factors program to sustain over a long term to achieve desired results and improved performance from the workforce.

Results of sustaining an Airport operations human factors program1

  • The employee attitude towards safety increases after months of recurrent training related to airport operations human factor concepts.
  • The management of the organization supports a system wide improvement, through continuous follow up of the program.
  • The workforce and the management work together in implementing new ideas for improvement.
  • The errors and reworking of any airport operations decreases. There is a high amount of interest level shown by the workforce to learn from the investigation results.

Importance of cost justification in human factors programs

  • The airport operations human factors programs should demonstrate safety and cost payback as they are not regulatory.
  • The continued reduction in injuries and equipment damage will lower the costs and result in return on investment, but these cost savings must be presented2

Quantifying the investments for cost justification2

  • The useful cost justifications must be straightforward and easy to understand as they don't require an economist to do the process.

Calculating the Return on Investment (ROI) for specific airport related events

  • The basic equation for determining the ROI is - divide the benefits obtained by the costs.
  • The term "cost" is the estimated annual expenditure on the airport related events like personal injuries and equipment damage.
  • The "cost to fix" is the cost required to determine and mitigate the contributing factors to the events.
  • Estimate a reasonable "probability of success" such that the interventions will be successful.
  • Now multiplying the "cost" with "probability of success" gives the return and divide the ("return" minus "cost to fix") by "cost to fix" which gives the Return on Investment (ROI).

Since the airport operations human factors are designed to sustain for a long term to achieve positive results, it may not be possible to achieve a positive ROI (>1.0) within the first year.

Thus the above mentioned are the different improvements being achieved as a result of the implementation of a sustained long term human factors program and the development of a cost justification process to calculate the Return on Investment on specific airport related events.

1. FAA (2007). Operator’s manual: Human factors in airport Operations. Retrieved from ATC Vantage Inc on 27 October 2011.
2. ROI (2006). Return on investment in human factors programs. Retrieved from The FAA on 27 October 2011.

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Authors / Editors

Gokul KrishnanGokul Krishnan

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