Human Factor

Table of Contents.

11.1 Basic Health

Know the effect and importance on pilot performance of the following factors:

  1. Diet, exercise
  2. Coronary risk factors - smoking, cholesterol, obesity, hereditary factors
  3. Upper respiratory tract infection e.g. colds, hay fever, congestion of air passages and sinuses
  4. Food poisoning and other digestive problems
  5. Headaches and migraines
  6. Pregnancy
    1. when to stop flying.
    2. impact on cockpit ergonomics.
  7. Injuries
  8. Ageing
  9. Alcohol and smoking
  10. Blood donations
  11. Dehydration
  12. Emotional
    1. anxiety, depression, fear

Know that a pilot is not to fly when on any medication unless a medical clearance from DAME has been obtained.

Know the responsibilities of pilots with regard to being medically fit for flight.

11.2 Reserved


11.3 Health and Fitness

Know the:

  1. Reasons for and frequency of physical examinations and that a CASA network of Designated Aviation Medical Examiners (DAMEs) exists
  2. Process of obtaining a medical examination
  3. Role of the CASA with regard to medical fitness and that only those conditions which present a flight safety hazard are disqualifying


  1. Explain how alcohol is absorbed and excreted
  2. state and explain what a ‘hangover' is
  3. explain the effect a ‘hangover' may have on flying performance
  4. explain the relationship between a ‘hangover' and level of blood alcohol in a person
  5. explain the relationship between the level of blood alcohol and the recovery period from a ‘hangover'
  6. State the factors that the effect the elimination of alcohol from the body and describe the effects of illicit drugs and alcohol on proficiency e.g.
    • judgement, comprehension, attention to detail
    • the senses, co-ordination and reaction times.


  1. Explain that:

    Drug abuse is a behavioural problem and is independent of:

    • dependence (addiction)
    • frequent use.
  2. Define illicit or non-illicit psychoactive substances.

  3. Explain the adverse effects of illicit or non-illicit psychoactive substances.

  4. Explain the effects and duration of such effects on human performance related to perception, speed of processing Learnrmation, and reaction time of such drugs as:

    • cannabis-based substances eg, marijuana, ganja
    • amphetamine-based substances eg, Ecstasy
    • opium-based substances eg, codeine, heroin.
  5. Have a broad knowledge of the undesirable effects of over-the-counter and prescription drugs. In particular, the side effects of:

    • aspirin, antihistamines, nasal decongestants
    • amphetamines, tranquillisers, sedatives, antibiotics.

Blood donations:

  1. State the effect on flying after giving a blood donation
  2. State the recommended period between giving blood and the next flight and know that this period can vary between individuals

11.4 Hyperventilation

Know how to recognise and combat hyperventilation.

Know what hyperventilation is and its causes.

11.5 Atmosphere Pressure Changes

Trapped gases:

  1. Know the effect of changes in pressure on gases trapped in the body cavities
  2. Describe the effect on normal bodily function
  3. State/list measures for prevention/treatment.

Know the effects of flying after a period of underwater diving and state the precautions to be taken if intending to fly after underwater diving.

11.6 Basic Knowlegde of the Ear Anatomy

  1. Know its function in receiving sound transmissions
  2. Explain the purpose of the Eustachian tube and the effects of atmospheric/cabin pressure changes
  3. State the effects of noise exposure on:
    • hearing loss: long/short term
    • speech intelligibility
    • fatigue
  4. Describe recommended methods of hearing protection.

11.7 Vision, Disorientation, Illusion

Have knowledge of the anatomy of the eye and its function during the day and at night.

Know factors which affect night vision and identify methods of "dark adaptation".

Describe the limitations of the eye in discerning objects at night and the "off-centre" method of identifying objects at night.

Know the limitations of the eye with respect to

  1. The ability to discern objects during flight e.g.
    • other aircraft, transmission lines etc
  2. Empty field myopia
  3. SGlare
  4. Colour vision in aviation
  5. Common visual problems, viz:
    • myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, presbyopia
  6. Rotor flicker and its effects (helicopters only).

Be aware of the importance of

  1. Seeking experienced professional advice for spectacles prescriptions
  2. Selecting suitable sunglasses

Know of the factors which are conductive to mid-air collisions and describe/practice techniques for visual "scanning".

Understand and define the term "disorientation".

Know the sensory systems involved in maintaining body equilibrium i.e. that

  • equilibrium is normally maintained by use of the eyes, inner ear and proprioceptive system ("seat of pants")

Understand that these mechanisms were developed for use by land based mammals and do not provide reliable Learnrmation under all conditions of flight.

Describe illusion(s) that may be associated with the factors listed below

  1. "Leans"
  2. Linear and angular accelerations
  3. Unperceived changes in the pitch; roll; yaw
  4. Autokinetic illusions
  5. "Graveyard spin" illusion
  6. Somatogravic illusion


  1. That sensory illusions usually occur when external visual clues are poor or ambiguous and that they are predictable
  2. The importance of an artificial visual reference system and a pilot's ability to use the system
  3. The factors that may make a person more susceptible to disorientation
  4. How to overcome sensory illusions.

Know what illusions may result from the following flight factors

  1. False horizontal clues e.g.
    • sloping cloud formations and sloping terrain
  2. Depth perception e.g.
    • flying over water, snow, desert and other featureless terrain
    • effect of fog: haze; dust
  3. Optical characteristics of windscreens
  4. Landing illusions:
    • approach angles: steep; shallow
    • width and slope of runway
    • slope of (approach)
    • terrain approaches over water
  5. Relative motion between objects.

11.8 Motion Sickness

State the basic cause of motion sickness

List factors which may aggravate motion sickness.

List methods of combating motion sickness in flight.

11.9 Acceleration "g" Effects

Know the effects of positive and negative accelerations on the human body including:

  1. On the cardiovascular system
  2. Vision
  3. Consciousness

11.10 Toxic Hazards

Know the sources, symptoms, effects and treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Know the effect of breathing air contaminated by fuel and other noxious or toxic aviation products.

11.11 The Atmosphere and Associated Problems

State the chemical composition of the atmosphere and recall the variation of temperature and pressure with altitude.

Have a basic concept of the circulatory and respiratory systems in terms of the distribution of oxygen and the excretion of carbon dioxide.

Describe what is meant by the partial pressure of oxygen.

11.12 Hypoxia

  1. List the causes of hypoxia and recognise the symptoms of hypoxia particularly
    • its effect on night vision
    • the dangers of behavioural changes e.g. lack of self criticism, over-confidence and a false sense of security
  2. Know that symptoms are difficult to detect in healthy individuals and can develop much faster at higher altitudes - e.g. 14, 000 ft
  3. List factors which may increase a person's susceptibility to hypoxia
  4. State the approximate time of useful consciousness (Effective Performance Time: EPT) at 20,000, 25,000 and 30,000 feet and list factors which affect EPT
  5. List methods of combating various forms of hypoxia

11.13 Human Factor Considerations

Know the concepts of Learnrmation processing and decision making including:

  1. How sensory Learnrmation is used to form mental images
  2. The influence of the following factors on the decision making process
    • personality traits e.g. introvert/extrovert
    • pride, peer pressure, employer pressure
    • the desire to get the task done
    • anxiety, over-confidence, boredom, complacency
    • types of memory - long/short term
    • memory limitations
    • aides memoire, rules of thumb
    • work load/overload
    • skill, experience, currency

Discuss the general concepts behind decision making and the methods of enhancing decision making skills.

Concepts of Stress:

  1. Know the interaction between stress and arousal and the effects of short and long term stress on pilot performance and health
  2. Know the symptoms, causes and effects of environmental stress
    • working in an excessively hot, cold, vibrating or noisy environment
  3. Know the symptoms and effects of domestic and work related stress
  4. Know the effects of stress on performance
  5. Know the principles of stress management e.g.
    • cognitive/behavioural techniques
    • relaxation
    • time management

Concepts of Fatigue:

  1. Identify causes of fatigue and describe its effect on pilot performance
  2. Differentiate between acute and chronic fatigue
  3. Discuss coping strategies e.g.
    • sleep management
    • relaxation
    • fitness and diet

Basic Ergonomics

  1. Discuss principles of control design and the design features of conventional and modern displays
  2. Discuss problems associated with:
    • poorly designed controls/positioning of controls
    • interpreting instrument presentations
  3. Know the following Learnrmation regarding safety harnesses:
    • types, how to assess their maintenance
    • inertia reels, how to assess their maintenance.

Basic Principles of Crew Co-ordination:

  1. Discuss factors which
    1. influence verbal and non-verbal communication between flight deck crew viz
    2. communication between flight deck
    3. crew viz:
      • barriers to communication
      • listening skills
      • assertion skills
    4. affect the decision making process viz:
      • anxcommunication attitudecency
      • personality
      • judgement
      • leadership style
  2. Discuss ideal leadership qualities
  3. Review aircraft accidents which resulted from poor crew co-ordination

11.14 Principles of First Aid and Survival

The student should be aware of the first aid and survival Learnrmation contained in ERSA and preferably be exposed to practical instruction in the terms of first aid given in this document.

11.15 Threat and Error Management

Basic principles of TEM

  1. Explain the principles of TEM and detail a process to identify and manage threats and errors during single pilot operations.
  2. Define ‘threats' and give examples of threats.
  3. Give an example of a committed error and how action could be taken to ensure safe flight.
  4. Explain how the use of checklists and standard operating procedures can prevent errors.
  5. Give examples of how an undesired aircraft state can develop from an unmanaged threat or error.
  6. Explain what resources a pilot could identify and use to avoid or manage an undesired aircraft , state such as being lost or entering adverse weather.
  7. Explain the importance of ensuring that tasks are prioritised to manage an undesired aircraft state.
  8. Give examples of how establishing and maintaining interpersonal relationships can promote safe flight.