I read your book Life in the Skies. It was informative for a non-aviator like me.
I am a semi-retired technical manager in the semi-conductor manufacturing industry.
My question is: is there statistical evidence of reduction of both fatal and non-fatal air crash accident related to the human factors (pilot, air-traffic controller, airport maintenance crews etc).
Specific references are SIA 006 accident in Taiwan CSK airport in 31 Oct 2000 and Asiana 214 at USA SFO airport on 6 Jul 2013.
Despite a period of about 13 years of lessons learnt, a major fatal accident related to human factor still happened.
While we look forward to read the details of NTSB investigative hearing conducted on 11 Dec 2013, I hope flying can be made safer by enhancing on CRM and other human related safety programme.
Lim SJ (Penang)
Hi Lim SJ,
Despite all the training in the airline industry to reduce accidents caused by human factor, I believe it is not possible to totally eradicate this cause. What I can say is that, it has definitely improved safety in the air.
One factor that involves human factor is the culture of the Eastern society of according respect of someone older or senior to him. It will take quite a while to completely change the attitude of such pilots - probably until the older generation of these pilots have retired.
For example, in one of the chapter of his book, ‘Tipping Points’ by Malcolm Galdwell on the topic, 'Can cultural issues cause plane crashes?' He concludes it did.
He talked about the period when Korean Air at the end of the 1990s had more plane crashes than almost any other airlines in the world. He said that when we think of airlines crashes, we think, oh, they must have had old planes. They must have had badly trained pilots. No. What they were struggling with was a cultural legacy, that Korean culture is hierarchical. You are obliged to be deferential toward your elders and superiors in a way that would be unimaginable in the Western society.
But Boeing and Airbus design modern, complex airplanes to be flown by two equals. That works beautifully in low-power-distance cultures but in cultures that have high power distance, it’s very difficult.
For example, he cited the very famous plane crash in Guam of Korean Air. They’re flying along, and they run into a little bit of trouble, the weather’s bad. The pilot makes an error, and the co-pilot doesn’t correct him. But once Korean Air figured out that their problem was cultural, they fixed it. Today Korean Air had improved the air safety record to a very high standard through good CRM training. Therefore, CRM training programs can help reduce aircrew errors and thereby prevent accidents
As regards to the Asiana 214 crash at San Francisco, there were speculations that the possibility of human factors, similar to the cultural issues may have a part in the cause of the accident.
As mentioned earlier, traces of the cultural effect will still be there for quite a while before it goes away.
You can also read a related article in Travel 3Sixty ‘Saying No to your Boss’ here
PS. If you like what you read, more stories are found in my book LIFE IN THE SKIES (Preview here) and you can purchase a copy here. To check for any latest updates or postings, you can follow my Twitter at @CaptKHLim
If you like what you read, more stories are found in my book LIFE IN THE SKIES (Preview here) and you can purchase a copy here. To check for any latest updates or postings, you can follow my Twitter at @CaptKHLim or Facebook here