Human Factor and Aviation Safety Problems

(Lessons learned from accident reviews)

by Jose Luis Garcia

As you all know, safety, aviation and human factors are closely related. I am not revealing anything new there. However, the review of any accident provides good material for reflection. I hope you enjoy reviewing the following cases as much as I have. Many of them engaged me directly with my target career, human factors and aviation. Perhaps you will find them relevant as well.

Historically, 70 percent of commercial jet accidents involved humans (Boeing 2004), in one form or another. In the early years of aviation, technical defects were the main cause of accidents. But as reliability improved, the human factor became the main factor.

Some say human error is the primary factor in up to 80 to 90 percent of the cases. However, aviation accidents often involve more than one cause, such as system complexity, poor human-machine interface, inappropriate work organization, awkward work procedures, altered communication between pilot and controllers, or loss of situational awareness. We should not place blame on the human operator alone, but rather to a combination of factors in a highly complex context.

The best way to understand the human factors of the aviation world, and how they can be applied, is to review some of the big accidents that have occurred. We will find there the "Aha!" The analysis of two of these accidents motivated me to pursue deeper human factors education: the accident at Los Rodeos airport in Tenerife (Spain) in 1977, where two B747 (from KLM and Pan Am) collided on the runway; and the accident of Cali (Colombia) in 1995, where an American Airlines B757 crashed into the terrain. Each aviation accident provides myriad lessons to learn, but those two are especially relevant, in my opinion.

Los Rodeos Runway Collision

The Los Rodeos runway collision remains the worst accident in aviation history, hopefully forever, with 583 fatalities. This accident was a clear example of the relevance of human factors in aviation. Stress, decision-making errors, communication problems between pilot, controller and crew, lack of situational awareness, and organizational management issues in the cockpit were contributing factors.


  1. A Short Course in Human Relations
  2. Automated Factory Update
  3. Aviation Security
  4. B. Express your personal point of view regarding the challenges that are in store for us in terms of preserving the environment and saving the humankind in the near future.
  5. Civil Aviation Security
  6. Civil Aviation Security Regulations
  7. Debated Problems within a Simple Sentence
  8. Debated Problems within the Theory of the Phrase
  9. Debated Problems within The Verbals
  10. Ecological Problems
  11. Environmental Problems and Their Influence on Peoples Health
  12. Factors that may contribute to terrorism

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Crew Information Requirements Analysis | Cali B757 Terrain Crash

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