Human Factors and Accident reduction/mitigation

Robert Boyle robert at
Thu Nov 5 23:14:01 UTC 2009

At 09:20 AM 11/5/2009, Owen DeLong wrote:
>Regarding Reliability and Availability:
>We could learn a lot about this from Aviation.


I think if we conducted a poll, a 
disproportionate percentage of NANOG folks are 
likely also pilots (compared to the general 
population anyway) I agree with you completely 
that aviation is a good model to follow if it is adapted where it makes sense.

The real problem is same human factors we have in 
aviation which cause most accidents. Look at the 
list below and replace the word Pilot with 
Network Engineer or Support Tech or Programmer or 
whatever... and think about all the problems 
where something didn't work out right. It's 
because someone circumvented the rules, 
processes, and cross checks put in place to 
prevent the problem in the first place. Nothing 
can be made idiot proof because idiots are so creative.

SEL/MEL Private Instrument

Listed here:

1. Anti-Authority:
"Don't tell me."
This attitude is found in people who do not like 
anyone telling them what to do. In a sense, they
are saying, "No one can tell me what to do." They 
may be resentful of having someone tell them
what to do, or may regard rules, regulations, and 
procedures as silly or unnecessary. However, it
is always your prerogative to question authority if you feel it is in error.

2. Impulsivity:
"Do it quickly."
This is the attitude of people who frequently 
feel the need to do something, anything, immediately.
They do not stop to think about what they are 
about to do; they do not select the best alternative,
and they do the first thing that comes to mind.

3. Invulnerability:
"It won't happen to me."
Many people feel that accidents happen to others, 
but never to them. They know accidents can
happen, and they know that anyone can be 
affected. They never really feel or believe that they will
be personally involved. Pilots who think this way 
are more likely to take chances and increase risk.

4. Macho:
"I can do it."
Pilots who are always trying to prove that they 
are better than anyone else are thinking, "I can do it
–I'll show them." Pilots with this type of 
attitude will try to prove themselves by taking risks in order
to impress others. While this pattern is thought 
to be a male characteristic, women are equally

5. Resignation:
"What's the use?"
Pilots who think, "What's the use?" do not see 
themselves as being able to make a great deal of
difference in what happens to them. When things 
go well, the pilot is apt to think that it is good luck.
When things go badly, the pilot may feel that 
someone is out to get me, or attribute it to bad luck.
The pilot will leave the action to others, for 
better or worse. Sometimes, such pilots will even go
along with unreasonable requests just to be a "nice guy."

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