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Brunel University and partners receive Royal Aeronautical Society Award

Brunel University, West London today announced that in collaboration with Cranfield University, Limerick University, Lund University and Marshall Associates, it has developed a system that could help reduce the number of air travel accidents caused by human error, as a result of flaws in aircraft cockpit design.

The Human Error Template (HET) project was funded by the Department of Trade and Industry under the European EUREKA! Research Programme and received the prestigious Bronze Medal and Hodgson Award from the Royal Aeronautical Society in recognition of its contribution to the advancement of air travel safety, based on a paper published by the universities in the Aeronautical Journal.

The HET is a tool used during the design and building phases of an aircraft to identify potential design flaws which could increase the likelihood of human error, so that they can be remedied before completion of the aircraft. The HET is the only method of its kind to be designed specifically to identify design-induced pilot error. Research has revealed that it outperforms three of the most commonly used error analysis techniques (SHERPA, HEIST and Human Error HAZOP).

The increased automation of new generation aircraft has increased concern about design-induced errors, which, unlike accidents caused by reliability and structural integrity of an aircraft, have increased over the last 50 years. Design-induced errors are human errors caused by a combination of a lack of understanding of automation and poor design of the operating logic of the controls of a cockpit.

Prof. Neville Stanton at Brunel University's School of Engineering and Design commented, “We hope HET will help to decrease the number of air accidents caused by design-induced human error. Recent reports have proven that accidents can indeed occur as a result of a pilot selecting the wrong control in the cockpit and the HET is designed to identify instances of design-induced pilot error in the early phases of the design life cycle.“


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