Human Factors and Risk Management in Aviation


The current paper dwells on the core aspects inherent in aviation and human factors that are directly associated with it. Numerous dynamic factors are evaluated and several recommendations are provided. The paper gradually enumerates the features that are characteristic of a top-notch pilot.

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Resource Management (CRM)

This particular concept revolves around the idea that the crew’s safety and cooperation should be ensured by the operative utilisation of the available resources. In perspective, it is expected to help the crew avoid stressful situations and reduce the occurrence of errors (Vidulich, Tsang, & Flach, 2014). The development of CRM is based on the supposition that we should investigate the causes of accidents that tend to occur in the area. The data that is obtained from the aeroplanes recurrently proves that the majority of aeroplane mishaps happen on account of human error and not technical malfunctions.

Safety Risk Management (SRM)

The notion of safety risk management is grounded on the idea that all safety threats should be identified and either assessed or mitigated. In this case, a threat is anything that can cause damage or trigger negative outcomes (harm, injuries). The concept of SRM is also connected to high workload, bad weather conditions, and a scarce deficiency in emergency equipment. There are numerous ways to detect the majority of potential threats. In perspective, a successful analysis of the potential threats is only possible when one distances themselves from the past experiences and engages in an out-of-the-box thinking process.

Aeronautical Decision Making

The process of aeronautical decision-making can be defined as an upgraded version of the conventional decision-making process. It is commonly applied when pilots have to make a decision regarding a certain problem where a number of possible options to choose from are available. The key objective of this approach is to minimise the occurrence of adverse outcomes. So as to mitigate these negative consequences, pilots are entitled to assessing the factors that may contribute to the occurrence of any given event.

Risk Management

For a pilot, the process of risk management can be described as a thorough analysis of the hazards at hand that can threaten the crew and the passengers. The key aim of this process is to assess the risks in a systematic manner and make sure that all the risks are successfully identified so as to keep the safety level within acceptable norms. Evidently, this concept is equally central for each of the aeronautics sectors and should be applied by any given organisation that operates within the aircraft industry.

Task Management

The concept of task management relates to the allocation of responsibilities among the members of the crew that will enable them to produce maximum output. Also, the idea behind task management is that pilots should be able to switch between the tasks effectively within a limited period of time. The core idea of task management is to prioritise the existing missions in line with the current circumstances and adjust all systems to the environment. Ineffective task management may lead to adverse outcomes because there are numerous contextual factors that can impact the flight right away in a matter of seconds.

Situational Awareness

The concept of situational awareness can be defined as an accurate assessment of all the factors that contribute – positively or negatively – to the process of task completion and cannot be ignored throughout the flight. The pilot has to maintain the aircraft and realise what is going on around them from the take-off to landing. On a bigger scale, situational awareness is a complex perception of the operational environment that is dependent on the pilot’s knowledge base. For instance, pilots have to know all the info about the positions of other aircrafts and predict any probable conflicts that may arise.

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Controlled Flight into Terrain Awareness

The notion of awareness concerning a controlled flight into terrain relates to an unintentional flight into an obstacle or terrain while having no prior awareness of the encounter. This is only true for flightworthy aircrafts. One of the factors contributing to controlled flight into terrain is the absence of situational awareness. Moreover, a lot depends on the pilot’s contentment and their overall condition. Controlled flight into terrain may take place if the pilot fails to pay attention to warning signs or utilise air traffic control to receive the latest updates. Evidently, the members of the crew should discuss the potential threats and identify them as soon as possible when required.

Automation Management

The presence of automation in aviation can be explained by the desire of plane manufacturers to reduce the load on pilots. One of the basic examples of automation in aviation is air traffic control. On a bigger scale, pilots use automated technologies to upsurge flight steadfastness and efficiency. Automation management pays close attention to identifying the implications inherent in human factors and the deployment of technologies in the aircraft industry. Overall, the transition from the “actor” to the “spectator” is already in place. The introduction of technology in aircrafts cannot be defined as either a positive or negative factor.

The Decision-Making Process

The decision-making process of any given pilot critically relies on the concept of human safety. So as to comply with this major objective, a decision-making model titled “DECIDE” was developed. It is safe to say that this model is based on the underlying concepts of CRM. The acronym DECIDE can be interpreted as follows:

  • D – Detect the necessity to act;
  • E – Estimate the probable impact;
  • C – Choose the outcome of interest;
  • I – Identify what has to be done in order to meet the chosen outcome;
  • D – Do whatever it takes to achieve the outcome;
  • E – Evaluate the impact of the event.

The Pilot’s Responsibilities


The pilot has to communicate in an effective manner. This includes correct and intelligible dialect and the use of comprehensible language structures and specific patterns that can facilitate the communication process. Additionally, every pilot has to possess a certain vocabulary range and render their speech at an adequate speed (Stolzer & Goglia, 2016). The discussion should be based on professional aviation terms and presented in a way that will be understood by the international community. The pilot has to respond immediately, and their answers should be useful and appropriate.

Task Management

When it comes to task management, the pilot has to choose constantly so as to achieve the core goal of the initial flight mission (for instance, get to the destination on time). The commencement of new errands and management of the previously initiated also make part of the concept of pilot’s task management process. The prioritisation of tasks is grounded on the allocation of resources among the tasks with the highest priority and recurrent disruption of the tasks that are not so important. The pilot is in charge of taking the irrelevant tasks out of the to-do list as well.

Situational Awareness

A more detailed description of situational awareness relates to the comprehensive data regarding the possible flight routes, the airspace (departure/ destination), the obstructions, and the weather conditions (including the route recommendations based on the weather forecast) (Price & Forrest, 2016). The pilot also has to pay close attention to the preflight conditions. Combined, all these factors will have a significant impact on flight safety and assemble into a bigger picture intended to help the pilot organise the flight in the most efficient manner. If situational awareness is disregarded, the plane may get lost or crash.


The concept of disorientation is inherent in both ordinary people and even the most experienced pilots. The problem with spatial disorientation consists in the fact that the majority of people tend to disregard the signs that are conveyed by the environment and believe that their perception is right and they are not lost. Regardless of the automated processes and flexibility of the aircraft systems, human factor can heavily influence the flight process. For any given pilot, it is critical to renew their knowledge base on the concept of disorientation in order to recognise it as soon as possible and take necessary actions to do something about it and maintain flight safety.

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Motion Sickness

The problem with motion sickness consists in the fact that the symptoms of this disease can be rather implicit. The key point, in any given case, is the willingness to evade impetuses that may activate the symptoms of motion sickness. The best advice for student pilots is not to eat heavy meals before the lesson (the severity of motion sickness depends on what and how you eat). One of the best ways to deal with motion sickness is to purchase a Sea Band that will cause pressure on the median nerve in the wrist and prevent it from triggering any sickness.


Hypoxia is the state of oxygen deficiency. There are numerous dynamic variables that can cause this phenomenon. Some of them include pneumonia, reduced barometric pressure, extreme temperatures, and oxygen equipment that malfunctioned at serious heights above the sea level (Muller, 2014). For the most part, hypoxia transpires among pilots that fly above 10.000 feet in a non-pressurised aeroplane and do not have extra oxygen. Also, pilots will encounter hypoxia if oxygen system fails to initiate or a rapid decompression happens throughout the flight.

Decompression Sickness

The problem with decompression sickness consists in the fact that it may occur due to a series of various events. Every pilot should get acquainted with the warning signs that can precede decompression sickness. The first aspect is flying in an unpressurised aircraft 18.000 feet above the sea level. The pilot is in charge of monitoring the condition of all aircraft occupants. Second, it is critical to evade any unnecessary physical activity before and after the flight in an unpressurised cabin.


Hyperventilation can initiate a serious diminution in mental and physical performance. In the most severe cases, the pilot can even lose consciousness. Even though hyperventilation is usually accompanied by unconcealed warning signs, one may witness covert triggers as well (for example, being nervous before an exam may lead to hyperventilation). One of the key warning signs is dizziness. The pilot may also feel cold and queasy. The sensation of pins in the hands and feet can also be commonly met in people with hyperventilation.


Throughout the flight, all pilots are subjected to different stress levels. The level of stress also majorly depends on the way in which pilots address it. The pilots are required to ensure safety, and this puts a lot of workload on them (Griffin, Young, & Stanton, 2015). Evidently, the levels of stress are peaking during the take-off and landing.


Fighting fatigue is one of the toughest tasks when it comes to aircraft pilots. Current research in the area is concentrated on identifying preventive measures and encouraging organisations not to ignore this problem (Garland, Wise, & Hopkin, 2016). The problem with fatigue consists in the fact that numerous lifestyle factors influence the accumulation of fatigue and consequent burnout. Therefore, serious changes in personal life may be necessary.

Alcohol and Drugs

The problem with alcohol is that it gets absorbed into the fluid of the inner ear and does not get eliminated from the brain, blood, or body. The inner ear is responsible for balancing human body so vestibular apparatus can fail to function properly and this will lead to spatial disorientation. Also, due to the presence of alcoholic substances in one’s blood, the symptoms of histotoxic hypoxia may arise. The use of any illegitimate drug is also discordant with flight safety and the passengers’ contentment.

Fitness for Flight

If a pilot has a history of specific medicinal circumstances, they may be disqualified from flying forever. These conditions include personality disorders, drug abuse, disturbed consciousness, epilepsy, and medication-requiring diabetes. The individuals with heart diseases are also not eligible. Some of the conditions may disqualify the pilot only on a temporary basis (including peptic ulcer and various infections). Nonetheless, even pilots that fell short of the necessary medical standards may become eligible in terms of special programs that require more medical information regarding their health.

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Garland, D. J., Wise, J. A., & Hopkin, V. D. (2016). Handbook of aviation human factors (2nd ed.). Boca Raton, FL: CRC.

Griffin, T. G., Young, M. S., & Stanton, N. (2015). Human factors models for aviation accident analysis and prevention. Farnham, UK: Ashgate.

Muller, R. (2014). Aviation risk and safety management: Methods and applications in aviation organizations. New York, NY: Springer.

Price, J. C., & Forrest, J. S. (2016). Practical aviation security: Predicting and preventing future threats. San Diego, CA: Elsevier Science.

Stolzer, A. J., & Goglia, J. J. (2016). Safety management systems in aviation. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

Vidulich, M. A., Tsang, P. S., & Flach, J. (2014). Advances in aviation psychology. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company.

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StudyCorgi. "Human Factors and Risk Management in Aviation." January 6, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Human Factors and Risk Management in Aviation." January 6, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Human Factors and Risk Management in Aviation'. 6 January.

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