Enhancing Safety Practices & Human Factors in RPAS Operations – Human Factors in RPAS Operations
Safety practices and human factors play a crucial role in RPAS operations. In 2019, CASA released a collection of booklets and videos titled “Safety Practices: Human Factors for Pilots.” While primarily aimed at manned pilots, these resources offer valuable insights for unmanned pilots to improve their skills and enhance safety.
Human factors encompass a wide range of issues affecting task performance in work and non-work environments. As drone systems become more advanced, automated, and complex, understanding and applying human factors is essential for ensuring safety, especially with the growing threat of accidents due to the interface between humans, machines, and organisational safety culture.
Automation and autonomy can prevent some accidents, but there have been cases of pilots falling asleep, relying heavily on GNSS for navigation, or performing non-essential tasks to stay engaged with the aircraft. Such incidents highlight the importance of considering human factors like fatigue, diet, and alcohol on operator performance.
The unmanned aviation sector can learn valuable lessons from manned aviation. High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) RPAS and Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) RPA systems have transformed the roles of pilots/operators. As complex BVLOS and EVLOS operations become more commonplace, adopting human factor principles can help ensure safety and cost-effectiveness.
CASA’s booklets offer excellent resources for businesses to learn from. Other human factor resources are available, but CASA’s materials are free and easily accessible. Some key actions that any pilot or organisation can implement include:
As RPAS capabilities continue to evolve, it’s crucial to develop safety practices based on human factors for everyday operations. Understanding the unique safety behaviors, cultural aspects, and human factors in your operation can help create specific procedures and requirements, ensuring safety and prioritising mission crew involvement. If your organisation needs assistance in developing procedures or obtaining approval for complex operations like BVLOS, EVLOS, or others, consider reaching out to Hover UAV for support.
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