Human Factors & Ergonomics

The Human Contribution to Safety and Risk Mitigation in Commercial Aviation

In this project, we examined the role of pilots in risk mitigation during routine day-to-day operations, and in the context of mishaps. We selected and analyzed 14 accidents in commercial transport aviation where pilots ‘saved the day’ and prevented the worst possible outcome of an adverse event. The analysis highlights the unique human capabilities and the margin of safety provided by a second crewmember. Edge and corner cases were identified that will likely require the presence of human pilots for the foreseeable future. And possible ways to further improve system performance through technology and training of specific skills were explored. The project was funded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).