April 30, 2007

80/20 Idea – Human Error

Filed under: 80/20, ideas — jonseyk @ 9:50 am

On a recent trip to SA I was talking to my boyfriends mum who is a director at a very established airline. She told me that although it is not always portrayed in the media 90 something percent of plane crashes happen due to human error.

So, I was thinking why do the systems that are inplace in aircrafts allow for human error? Surely if the percentage of crashes is so high then the systems should be designed/redesigned to ensure that to this no longer happens.

It is an idea i have for “20” time to find a list of crashes that have happened due to “human error” or identify ourselves areas which we think are open to human error and then redesign the cockpit to eliminate any chance of crashes happening because of human error. This could be by putting in warning systems, redesigning buttons etc.

OK so we don’t have a 747 lying around the building so i thought we could use something like Mircosoft flight simulator which apparently has the same controls as real planes. To identify areas where there is potential for human error.

I like this idea because along with learing to fly a plane we could potentialy be doing something that one day may save lives.

Are there any takers with me on this idea?



  1. Is there a breakdown of types of human error? I’d imagine tiredness would have to be the key one, right?

    Nothing is completely foolproof, so there’ll always be room for human error, and thence the need for corrective procedures. I suppose there’d also be a fine line if and when a computer would take over from a human (hmm, thinking of HAL 9000).

    How often do humans get it right when computers were about to malfunction – are there any figures for this? Who is the fallback – the human or the computer?

    Comment by stephenhellens — April 30, 2007 @ 4:35 pm

  2. I would imagine that there is a need to maintain a fixed level of human control in any system? Not just due to the Hal 9000 factor(!) but until we reach the point where we emotionally accept the idea of planes with no human pilots, humans are an integral part of the system…

    I’ve no doubt that airline manufacturers are aware of where human failings occur and why. Maybe there’s an element of ‘acceptable’ human error? a balancing act between human and computer? Sounds far-fetched, but has been going on within other transport industries for years under the auspices of ‘loss adjustment’.

    Paranoia hat firmly on here obviously! 🙂 … An equally interesting project might be to examine where human errors have been discovered and could have been avoided in future, and what the financial costs might have involved….. against the insurance costs of plane crashes?

    Paranoia hat now off. Sorry!……

    Comment by Shai — May 16, 2007 @ 3:34 pm

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