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"Fatal Distractions" - Aviation accidents

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There is an article at the july 2010 Business & Commercial Aviation magazine that shows the relation between distractions, interruptions or preoccupation with nonessentials and aviation accidents. - (http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/channel_bca.jsp?channel=bca)

The article about safety analizes the Colgan Air Bombardier DHC-8-400 on Feb. 12, 2009 that during a night instrument approach to Buffalo Niagara International Airport stalled and crashed.

The flight data and voice recordes proves that during a conversation between the pilot in command and the co-pilot the aircraft stalled, when the stick shaker activated, the captain's improper aft controll column inputs led to an accelerated stall from which they could not recover.

The aircraft  has a lot of sings and warnings to alert the flight crew about the possible situation.

The human brain has two ways to operate, the conscious control an the automatic system. For example, while you are learning how to drive, you became nervous, tired and felt like you can't do all that is needed. But, after some time of pratice and you are getting skilled, you usually don't think in with pedal should press, where is the shift or  where I turn the lights on, all of this routine tasks become automated. In most of the real life tasks we use the both, letting the automatic system perform the tasks but the conscious control keep his supervision under the task.

That's the warning, the human brain CAN'T handle more than two tasks at a time. One in the automatic system with conscious control and another task with the conscious control only. For example, A skillful driver in a familiar car traveling along a familiar road can perform largely on automatic, leaving enough conscious capability to carry on a conversation. however, if the automatic system is allowed to operate without any supervision, it is vulnerable to certain types of error, especially a type of error called habit capture.

The Conscius control is required in four situations: When the task is novel, when the task is perceived to be critical, difficult or dangerous, when an automatic process must be overridden to prevent habit capture or when choosing among competing activities.

 

Lets take care of our actions, a simple distraction in a critical task has several consequances.

Regards

Bruno Rocha