Carolyn Vaughan

Principal Adviser Human Factors, Qantas Airways

Carolyn Vaughan is a Human Factors specialist for the Qantas Group specialising in Flight Crew Human Factors. Her undergraduate study was in psychology and aviation management, and her postgraduate study focused on aviation human factors. Her interests lie in flight crew skill development, and applied methods for enhancing safety behaviours through cultural analysis and proactive safety initiatives.

She presents regularly for human factors and aviation psychology conferences in the Asia-Pacific region on topics such as Peer assertiveness and intervention strategies, risk based training needs analysis, resilience, risk perception, and using technical data to identify HF issues. Carolyn also guest lectures for several Australian universities (UNSW, UniSA, Swinburne UT) regarding safety management systems, non-technical skills training and assessment, and methodologies for human factors integration.

Business as Usual – Integrating Human Factors Across Your SMS

Over the last few decades, the aviation industry has embraced Human Factors into training and assessment activities as a critical control for the optimisation of human performance. However, the philosophy of the Hierarchy of Risk Controls suggests that focusing our Human Factors efforts on training (an administrative control) is of lower effectiveness than including Human Factors methodologies in the design and decision-making activities of the airline operation.

Qantas has integrated Human Factors into higher levels of risk controls throughout the SMS, to reduce the pressure on employees at the sharp end, and to increase systemic ability to trap threats and errors prior to them impacting operational employees. Aligned with current safety and human factors approaches, Qantas does not focus only on minimisation of error but places significant emphasis on the optimisation of human performance throughout the system. The systemic focus aims for operational employees to encounter fewer threats that need to be managed, to spend less time responding to and managing weaknesses in the system, and to have the spare capacity to develop optimising skills, such as mental flexibility in unanticipated situations.

This presentation will include examples of how the integration of Human Factors in the Qantas Safety Management System has improved safety outcomes, e.g. User Testing and Design of iPad Apps, Load Control Task Analysis, Flight Crew Procedural Change, Analysis of Technical Safety Data, Occurrence Investigation.

It will also describe how the implementation of a standardised Human Factors framework throughout an SMS improves the quality of Human Factors data, and supports a risk based approach to human factors training and assessment.