The Effects of Ergonomics on the Development of Aviation
The advancement of aircraft design in the aviation industry over the last century has been absolutely phenomenal. One of the leading factors driving these innovations is ergonomics. Ergonomics gives designers the opportunity to fit the aircraft to the pilot or flight crew depending on the type of aircraft. The importance of ergonomics cannot be understated; proper ergonomics has been proven to reduce or eliminate unnecessary stress on pilots and have led to the effect placement of cockpit components that has prevented countless number of accidents that use to be commonplace. The aviation industry is quite complex and is made up of three main players. These are people, environment and technology. The human factors has however been considered to weaken the chain since more technology has continued being introduced into the industry. The aim of this paper is to investigate the ergonomics of the aviation industry.
The paper analyses the relationship that exits between automation and pilots and how it may bring about some setbacks in some cases. The introduction of more technology has therefore had the impact of making a system that has less flexibility as well as a resilient system.
Ergonomics is an important area that needs to be considered in ensuring that equipment and facilities are efficiently built for the use by humans (Dul, Bruder, Buckle, Carayon et al, 2012). This has the impact of making the equipment to adapt to its human operators. Some of the equipment that are focused on are: Flight Data Processing Systems, Airport Surface Detection Equipment as well as the secondary radar. Human beings play a key role in interacting with airplanes so as to ensure that they can control them well. The same humans also play a role in directing the traffic between and around the aerodromes. The path to an efficient aviation industry has involved a series of trial and outcome. This has been following the rules of innovations, mishaps and later corrections. Thus research has shown that most accidents have occurred due to human error (Tsang, 2002). Environmental factors such as meteorological conditions and air traffic that result in collusions are the lesser factors that cause accidents. Mechanical issues have also caused these problems since they can lead to a poor design of the cockpit and exceeding the structural limit of the airplanes. Other factors also include security loopholes in the system such as bomb attacks and high-jacking (Wiegmann & Shappell, 2003).
The methods that will be used to address the issue include the application of questionnaires, interviews and observation methods. Observation can be done at the airport when granted permission by the necessary authority. This is suitable to ensure that first hand and accurate data is actually achieved from the situations that are observed. Interviewing is another method that will be sued on the pilots, aeronautical engineers, air traffic controllers as well other staffs that are involved in the airplane industry. Since these people have a lot of experience in dealing with such matters, they would play a vital role in providing core and useful information that will be suitable for the research that is being done. Articles that have already been done previous by experienced writers would also serve as a guide in ensuring that correct information is obtained.
A) Aviation inception
The inception of aviation goes back into many years ago. It can be extended back to the days when flying objects were introduced such as gliders and even kites. Aviation has its origins in Greece where the first flying object was designed by Archytas who was a philosopher. Many other innovations took place from gliders to light aircrafts. But the breakthrough was brought about by the Wright Brothers who discovered the power of aerodynamic forces thus they build a powerful design out of this knowledge. The Brothers made attempts to solve control and power problems that existed in the planes. A method that was introduced to solve this was the use of wing warping to ensure that they control the roll as well as having a rear rudder that was steerable.
B) Flight safety
The systems have experienced a reduction in their capacities hence they have had the impact of reducing the ability of pilots to deviate from procedures that have already been established so as to create flight safety methods by the use of methods that are quite innovative and creative to ensure proper management of the planes.
There has been an improvement in the air safety over the years. This has been as a result of many mishaps that happened over years.
Pilots have been known to cause accidents by losing control in the air that leads the plane to stall or overbank or even to have an experience of abnormal attitudes. The pilots were said to lose control because of sleepiness, fatigue and even distraction. Thus methods have been introduced that will ensure that methods are set up to guide the pilots on improving their efficiency such as the Instrumental Landing System and the radar. Other devices have also been added so as to reduce the workload of the pilot. Some of these devices are aero-Throttle, autopilot, and Flight Director.
Later in the years, loss of direction continued to be an issue although in this case it was influenced by Controlled Flight into terrain. Most of these accidents therefore happened as a result of conflicts between pilots, poor decision making abilities as well as loss in the situational awareness. Crew Resource management was therefore introduced to enable pilots learn how they can reduce conflicts among themselves.
Safety is important since accidents can affect the economic costs of humans, legal and the economic factors. The occurrence of an accident also destroys the reputation of an airplane and people can have their public opinions being negative towards some airplane companies. Thus the engineering approach to safety considers the fact that pilots play a big role in the occurrence of accidents in the aviation industry. Too many instruments therefore have the ability to reduce the workload in achieving complacency while inadequate training has the ability to make pilots not to be aware of how to use and override automatism in case they fail or misbehave.
2). Evolution of Aviation Ergonomics
A) Pilot overload
There have been delays in response and read back errors by pilots and this can be noted in the manner in which the pilot communicates. Some pilots read the altitude clearances and altimeter settings in a wrong manner. There is also a decrease in the coordination between the keying of the pilot to the microphone as well as the timing of speech especially during the approach and arrival phases of a flight. Clipping is also observed and occurs mainly during the latter stages of the flight.
B) Cockpit design
The cockpit of a 737 has its instrument console placed at 90 degrees angle towards the main center of the fuselage. The seats of the pilots are then offset from the line at the center. The cockpits need to be made in manner that will ensure that they can see can see and control instruments. This means that this would be useful for controlling the plane. Cockpits need to be well designed so as to ensure that that ye pilots can have good control of the panes from their seats. Ina n ergonomic design, it is required that both the right and left side of the cockpit should be designed in a manner that is quarter-circular in appearance. This enables the pilot to be able to reach with their arm in a natural manner so as to press the buttons. The designs are also required to be oriented and focused on the space volumes that contain both the head and the shoulder of the pilot.
3). The future of Ergonomics in aviation design
Since ergonomics involves the creation of future work, it can be used to develop on the current conditions that exist in the industry.
3.1. Advancements in aviation ergonomics
Line maintenance is needed to be done on heavy machinery since it allows for the daily routine checks as well as the replacement of any components that have been damaged. Hanger maintenance uses heavy maintenance like gear swings, engine changes and A or B checks as well. Engine stands, hydraulic mules and aircraft jacks are used as equipment for maintenance.
B) Unmanned Aircraft
The introduction of unmanned flights is the biggest innovations to happen in the aviation industry. The aim of this method is to have flights that can be controlled by robots. These planes are to be used for cargo transport, air strikes and aerial refueling. The unmanned flights are expected to reduce the risks that are brought about by human error in the aviation industry and are expected to improve the quality of flights (Sebok, Wickens, Sarter, Quesada, Socash & Anthony, 2012).
The area of ergonomics seeks to analyze the issues in the system design that exists in the human-machine interface. Thus it optimizes the system and the interactions that occur between machines as well as people. The machines have controls that enable them to operate in an efficient manner. The controls are the main source of input whereby a human can transfer orders to the machine in particular. The goals of the system as well as the constraints in operations need to be considered before attempting to design an efficient system. Thus ergonomics would play the role of managing human errors that occur due to the use of machines that are poorly designed for their purpose. Thus ergonomics has the ability to improve the safety in aviation industry by maximizing the performance of humans under all conditions.
Thus the correct design and education on how to use the machines is quite fundamental ensuring that the pilot does not face some form of undue stress. This has the impact of improving the safety of flights in general as well. Due to the evolving changes in technology, manned piloted aircrafts may soon be replaced by unmanned planes.
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