ergonomics norms and standards, the very fundamental knowledge to be considered in modern human factors is based on the result of task analysis and cognitive modeling, and the core question to solve is the final position of human in command, not the size and color of displays. The European ergonomics school with Rasmussen, Leplat, Reason, de Keyser, and some U.S. scientists such as Woods or Hutchins have been early precursors in the 1980s to this change of human factors' focus. But the change in orientation takes much more time for industry, maybe because these modern human factors are less quantitative and more qualitative, and ask for a much deeper investment in psychology than ergonomics recipes did before. Third and last, many people in society think with a linear logic of progress and have great reluctance to consider that a successful solution could reach an apogee beyond which the optimization could lead to more drawbacks than benefits. In other words, human factors problems could be much more sensitive tomorrow than today if the system continues to optimize on the same basis. In contrast, the instrument is so powerful that it needs some taming. This phase will only take place through experience, doubtless by changes in the entire aeronautic system, in jobs, and in roles.
Let us not forget, in conclusion, that these changes are far from being the only ones likely to occur in the next 20 years. Another revolution, as important as that brought about by automation, may well take place when datalink systems supporting communications between onboard and ground computers control the aircraft's flight path automatically. But this is another story . . . in a few years from now, which will certainly require that a lot of studies be carried out in the field of human factors.
One could say also that the problems are largely exaggerated. It is simply true that performance has been improved with automation, and that safety is remarkable, even though better safety is always desirable.
The ideas expressed in this chapter only engage the author and must not be considered as official views from any national or international authorities or official bodies to which the author belongs. Part of the work presented in this chapter (human error and human recovery) was supported by a grant from the French Ministry of Defense, DRET Gr9, Contract 94.013; Dr. Guy Veron was the technical monitor. The author thanks Robert Helmreich for his helpful suggestions and text revision.
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