Human Factors in Everyday Flight

Part I

Meet Dr. Scott Sayre, D.D.S., a USAF Colonel with over 50 years of flying on the books and a refined expertise to match. He has a Master of Science in Human Factors, which is a significantly overlooked, but critical, aspect of flight safety. Dr. Sayre has joined us this week to discuss the importance of human factors in everyday flight.

Human factors play into flight at all times, directly affecting the quality and safety of every mission. In fact, anything that a pilot interacts with in their environment is considered a human factor. When working with human factors, the goal is to ensure that the given environment and flight parameters are as comfortable and navigable as possible in order to alleviate stress on the pilot.

Some of the most basic Human Factors associated with pilot comfort are listed below:  

  • Ergonomics: How a pilot sits in the cockpit, and how they physically grasp the yoke.
  • Distance per visual acuity, or how well and far a pilot can see.
  • Colors of different instrumentation, where they are placed, and how they are placed.

These types of human factors affect the way pilots are able to process information and make decisions accordingly. Dr. Sayre explains that outside of physiology and medicine (like taking medication in order to lower blood pressure, for instance), human factors in-flight can inflate stress - and under extreme circumstances, like an inadvertent aircraft dive, negative strain enters the body. This involves all sensory aspects of flight, such as vision, hearing, and touch.

 From the view of dashboard instrumentation to the quality of a pilot’s headphones, human factors play into every moment of the flying experience. “It’s totally underworked, and really not thought about as much as it should be,” Dr. Sayre shares of cockpit design. “While some places may have human factors experts, a lot of it is done by engineering, who need to keep it in mind when they are developing these things.”

Beyond the scope of designing with safety and human factors in mind, eliminating stress on a pilot during flight is not easy. Emergency situations do happen, and pilots must make quick decisions with the limited ability and fuel reserve of their aircraft. Again, when considering human factors, the goal is to ensure that the environment and flight parameters are as comfortable and navigable as possible to alleviate stress on the pilot. This means that when an unplanned circumstance arises, the pilot should be able to quickly make the safest decision with as little chance as possible of getting hurt. In other words, pilots cannot have their focus, safety, or comfort compromised when making a critical decision.

On this note, not all decisions cause stressors to enter the body, as pilots are very attuned to their skills. For instance, pilots in training are told to rotate at 70 knots, or where the VR is. As basic knowledge, all pilots know to look at their speed, make a simple decision, and then rotate. “This part of flying and navigation is easy, and sort of built into what we do,” explains Dr. Sayre, “However, decision making in emergency situations matters.”

This is where Active Winglets come into play, as the ultimate friend to human factors. When Dr. Sayre acquired his CJ1 in 2018, he was already in touch with Tamarack Aerospace to discuss his vision for the jet. The ease, comfort, and fuel margins provided by Active Winglets bring an extra sense of security for Dr. Sayre, as he is able to significantly increase his climb, avoid disruptions, and land with plenty of fuel left over. Having flown over 50 years, including his membership on the Lima Lima flight team, he has experienced incredibly stressful situations in-air. Now, he prefers to be assured on every flight possible, from safety margins to fuel reserve, boosted by the incredible performance of Active Winglet technology.

Stay tuned for Part II this week to learn about the significant human factors benefits of flying with Active Winglets.  

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