Forensic Aviation Human Factors [Accident/Incident Analyses for Legal Proceedings]
Richard D. Gilson University of Central Florida
When someone has an accident1 with an aircraft, automobile, or with any other system or device, people want to know why. The primary motivation2 for this is the prevention of their own and others' involvement in similar mishaps. Humans do make mistakes with machine systems, and are listed as the probable cause of accidents more often than not.3 But who actually is to blame, why, and how to avert a reoccurrence may not be obvious or easy to uncover. A closer look is often in order through forensic human factors, particularly in such complex systems as aviation.
First there must be an agency review of investigatory findings. If there are no other definitive causes of a mishap such as a mechanical failure, then the operator is likely to become the focus of blame. If the circumstance is truly of an individual's making, then, beyond the determination of personal culpability, further human factors analyses may not be warranted. However, if external factors could have actually induced the behavior, then the problem may not be a one-time occurrence and further analyses are called for. Experts in human factors have long recognized that designs, procedures, and training (beyond mere talent) affect the safe and efficient use of systems. Thus, human decisions made by systems designers, and ultimately by the manufacturers, also influence outcomes and may contribute to or principally underlie the problems.
Courts of law serve as one of several means for determination of cause and blame, and may spawn potential remedies. Because those involved in the judicial process____________________