Category Archives: Aerospace

a woman carving a turkey with a child looking on

Bring Some HF/E to Your Thanksgiving Meal

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In honor of Thanksgiving, I thought I would provide some warnings about the risks you may want to watch out for as you celebrate the holiday. Since it is a holiday post, I didn’t feel obligated to check for hard statistics on any of these. I am pretty sure that these are well established risks on Thanksgiving…

the spreme court

Communication Bottlenecks, the Supreme Court, and Constitutional Rights

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I am amazed sometimes at how integral human factors can be to so many important events in our society. It is one of the reasons I stay involved in forensics. You never know when you may get called on by the Supreme Court to help decide a major issue regarding the Bill of Rights. They haven’t called me yet on this one, but I think they need a HF expert, so I can hope. If I have chewed your ear off about my Bush v Gore story, you know my hope is valid.

The case seems to be about religious freedom on the surface. But it is really about the human factors of communication. If you read any of the transcripts as this case was winded its way up through the judicial system, you can see how the religious issue would have been moot if better human factors was applied…

Standing Up for Team Collaboration

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This study is further proof of what we discussed a few weeks ago about the foolishness of partitioning HF/E into neck up and neck down phenomena. There are many links between the two that are counterintuitive and might never be discovered with such a limited mindset.

Non-sedentary work configurations, which encourage standing rather than sitting in the course of work, are becoming increasingly prevalent in organizations. In this article, we build and test theory about how non-sedentary arrangements influence interpersonal processes in groups performing knowledge work…

three men in hazmat suits

Risk Perception, Dread, and Reality

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On today’s episode of NPR’s show The Takeaway, there was an interview of a doctor who had just come back from Liberia where he had been volunteering to help with the Ebola crisis. He had followed all of the precautions, had no symptoms, and had no worries that he was at risk. But his friends were all staying away. At least for 21 days.

After more than a month working in an Ebola treatment unit in Bong County, Liberia, Dr. Levine has come home to the United States. Dr. Levine says that he’s not too worried, but he is frustrated with the Ebola hysteria in the United States. He says that eradicating Ebola worldwide starts with increasing the focus in the worst hit areas of West Africa…

two women asleep while on break at work

Right Shift on the Night Shift

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This study is one of the reasons I try to keep track of the brain science literature on top of my usual study of HF/E. Despite my weak background in the biological side of neuroscience, I have some experience in cognitive neuroscience, which helps.

Unilateral brain damage can lead to a striking deficit in awareness of stimuli on one side of space called Spatial Neglect. Patient studies show that neglect of the left is markedly more persistent than of the right and that its severity increases under states of low alertness…

the google logo

Google Alerts

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I received an email from Lois at HFES headquarters (if you don’t know her, she is one the pillars that makes our Society run), with an intriguing factoid that I thought was a good topic for discussion. We (the HF/E community) are always debating whether there is a difference between human factors and ergonomics and explaining this to our colleagues and friends. Every time I testify, I inevitably get asked the question. Of course, it is just a question of semantics. You can define the two words however you want. You can make them different, overlapping, or identical. But what you think internally isn’t really what is important because we all practice in a real world with preconceived ideas and schema about both “human factors” and “ergonomics”…

a air plane seat that resembles a bicycle seat

Airbus Files for Bicycle Seat Patent

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The other commenters on this article, such as by my good friend Charles Mauro, have said enough about the poor ergonomics of Airbus’s bicycle seat patent.

The seat design featured in the patent is barbarically sparse, without even basic necessities like a backrest, tray tables or any leg room to speak of. In fact, the seats don’t even appear to function like seats; instead they are designed to prop up the flyer in an awkward semi-upright position to reduce the space required between rows.

But let’s think outside the box here. What if instead of the bicycle seat, we had a spinning class flight?

a modern airplane interior

Airplane Seating in Economy That Doesn’t Feel That Way

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Wow. These airplane seating ideas seem so simple after scanning through them. And yet they haven’t been done before so I guess they are not just common sense. Rack up another victory for smart design by smart designers.

The Meerkat is a concept design for long haul economy class seating that enhances passenger experience while minimizing weight and maintenance costs…

an image of a man sitting in a large control room

‘Fully Automated’ Might be an Oxymoron

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It is really good to keep in mind, as we migrate to fully automated systems that inevitably a human is going to be forced into the loop by something going wrong or unexpected. When it does, the low situation awareness can be devastating. This article by HFI has some great examples.

pal-v flying car shown driving on the road and flying in the air

Want a Flying Car?

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I am disappointed that the flying car came out in Europe first, although I can’t afford the $400k price tag anyway. “Flying cars have been reserved to science fiction… until now. Pal-V, a Dutch company, has created the world’s first road (and air) legal flying car”…