Improving Airport Diagrams: Design Principles

Our goal is reducing runway incursions and other “undesirable states” — a euphemism for hitting something or going off the taxiway. Airport diagrams are going electronic which is an immense improvement for situational awareness. Airline pilots will...

Airline Safety: Crash of Comair 5191

This accident hit home a bit since I’ve been working on improvements to airport diagrams and other areas. News reports tell of the horror that is always imbedded in such tragedies. And the human toll is indeed horrific when so many, so suddenly and so...

Airline Safety:  Pavlov and Pressurization

In so many ways humans behave predictably. If you respond to a stimulus often enough, the response becomes automatic and the relationship very powerful. We’ve all heard of Pavlov’s famous dog which exemplifies the principle (actually, it goes a bit...

Airline Safety: Affordable Armor and the Bubble

Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS) typifies an expensive technology that cumulatively cost billions but dramatically improved safety. Several “saves” have already been scored that kept flesh and aluminum intact. That alone probably paid for...

Airline Safety: Helios Crash

Greek airline accident involving the Boeing 737 Pressurization system. | See why this was predictable According to preliminary reports (Aviation Safety Network) a Helios Airways Boeing 737 crashed in Greece with an incapacitated crew. During the preflight...

Improving Airport Diagrams: Examples

Airport diagrams let pilots understand their taxi route, runway, and limitations (hold shorts). At present there are many shortcomings. Go here to see design principles that were incorporated to make the charts below. We brief an expected route before landing but...

Airline Safety: Realistic Improvements

Observations of a SWA Line Captain Airline safety is a continual defense against multiple threats: interruptions, weather, apathy, complacency, fatigue, mechanical failures, difficult personalities, stress, system design and more. We build armor in levels: pilot...

Airline Safety: Crashing by the Numbers

Improving safety means improving the odds with an understanding of human behavior  All humans make mistakes. Pilots are human. Pilots makes mistakes. And they do so at surprisingly predictable rates on aggregate. Managers and designers who fail to recognize this...

Airline Safety & “Pilot Error” Myths

Improvement potential for US civil aviation U.S. civil airlines move humans with less risk than any mode ever devised. But there’s still room for improvement. In pursuit of safety we must be careful not to price us out of reach which would lower overall...

People Don’t Fail, Processes Do

This great article addresses the myths of brushing off accidents as “Pilot Error,” a conclusion as useless as saying a death was caused by “gunshot wound.” While true, it sure doesn’t shed much useful light on what we’re really...

Airline Safety: Time to Recover

Seconds are frequently all we have. When things start going bad on a flight deck, pilots may waste precious seconds denying that it’s happening. It doesn’t have to be. Most pilots say that it won’t happen to them but accident data suggests otherwise....

Airline Safety: Windshear on a nice day in Boston

Most days my day job is pretty unremarkable. But sometimes it rises to the level of recording as was the case last night. I still admit that, if you gotta work, this gig is sweet, especially for those of us lucky enough to still enjoy it. Thursday afternoon a call...

Voiceless Communications for Aviation

Original: VoicelessComm.doc 11/18/97 The worst-ever aviation tragedy was two 747’s that collided on the ground in the Canary Islands. It was caused by a communications failure. A great improvement in aviation safety would likely result from reducing or eliminating...