The automation explosion: examining the human factor fallout

Also published in AirMed&Rescue, Nov 2021 edition. Automation reduces workload, frees attentional resources to focus on other tasks, and is capable of flying the aircraft more accurately than any of us. It is simultaneously a terrible master that exposes many human limitations and appeals to many human weaknesses. As we have bid to reduce crewContinue reading “The automation explosion: examining the human factor fallout”

Helicopter Hoisting and the Human in the system:

Applying the 3Hs to decision-making during helicopter hoist operations. On the 29 April 2020 at Biscarosse near Bordeaux in France, two crew members of a French Air Force H225 fell to their deaths when a hoist cable parted during a winch training exercise. (Summary report in English from Aerossurance.) The tragic outcome coupled with theContinue reading “Helicopter Hoisting and the Human in the system:”

On Lookout and helicopters

The importance of an effective lookout. We’ve heard it from day one in aviation, a constant through our flying training days and beyond. The dangers of mid-air collision, obstacles, and controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) will always be there.  These are not static threats however, but are always evolving. Take the proliferation of drones asContinue reading “On Lookout and helicopters”

Don’t neglect your CRM: The value of telling stories

Last week was a CRM week. I was immersed in a Crew Resource Management course for aspiring facilitators with three full days dedicated to talking, listening, and learning about flying, human factors, and facilitation. Learning from the experiences of others is a lot of what human factors training is about. You don’t do that withoutContinue reading “Don’t neglect your CRM: The value of telling stories”

Flying SAR in the sunshine: What’s not to like?!

From the Atlantic to the Mediterranean: The Weather. Learning to adjust. And just learning. On moving to Valencia last year to try my hand at flying a Search and Rescue helicopter in Spain, the predominantly anti-cyclonic picture of Spain’s Mediterranean-facing east coast presented an entirely new meteorological situation to me. “SAR in the sunshine, what’sContinue reading “Flying SAR in the sunshine: What’s not to like?!”

“Engine failure! Cut cut!” Power loss during winching operations: the pre-eminent risk in your assessment?

“Clear door, ready to winch.” “Power assessment/hover scenario: Ditching/Committed/Flyaway/Safe Single Engine.” For most of us who fly multi-engine helicopter types, single engine performance and the choice of flight profiles deriving from this was introduced as a predominant consideration from the beginning of our flying training, and has remained there ever since.  Our pre-flight calculations, ourContinue reading ““Engine failure! Cut cut!” Power loss during winching operations: the pre-eminent risk in your assessment?”

Sting in the tail: keeping the back end at the front of your mind.

Following the accident at Leicester City Football Club at the end of last month, all of which was caught on camera, and replayed very publicly, tail rotor failures are back in focus, and for those of us who fly the machines, are very much at the forefront of our minds. It was following a similarContinue reading “Sting in the tail: keeping the back end at the front of your mind.”

Aviation safety culture and the paradox of success:  Can safety innovation keep pace with technological progress?

The aviation industry is hailed as a pioneer of safety practices, of open reporting, of just culture, and in learning from its mistakes. And given its remarkable safety record, this reputation is perhaps justified. Nevertheless, it would be both complacent and counter to those values themselves to believe that the goal of safety has alreadyContinue reading “Aviation safety culture and the paradox of success:  Can safety innovation keep pace with technological progress?”

TEXTING AND FLYING?

Texting & Flying: Pilot distraction & the myth of multi-tasking. On August 26, 2011, at about 6:41 pm CDT, a Eurocopter AS350 B2 helicopter operated by Air Methods on an EMS mission crashed following a loss of engine power as a result of fuel exhaustion a mile from an airport in Mosby, Missouri. The pilot,Continue reading “TEXTING AND FLYING?”