David Learmount/LONDON

The Fairchild Aerospace 728JET regional airliner will become the first aircraft to be designed according to a new set of parameters intended to reduce human error in the cockpit and in maintenance, when it is certificated in mid-2002.

Early work on human-centred design and certification by the US Federal Aviation Administration and the European Joint Aviation Authorities' Human Factors Steering Group (HFSG) will show its first fruits in the 728JET, says the UK Civil Aviation Authority, an HFSG member.

The research is designed "to assess areas of vulnerability in design and maintenance". The HFSG is due to meet in Seattle in October to review progress.

The HFSG can trace its birth to the realisation during the late 1980s that there were no parameters for certificating modern digital avionic design and software, either by unit or assembled in the early "glass cockpits".

Meanwhile, a "human factors hazard analysis" being carried out by avionics manufacturers' association, the European Organisation for Civil Aviation Equipment (EuroCAE), is assessing human factors risks "in a predictive way".

EuroCAE is using data to determine the type of error humans make, with the intention of using good design to reduce the likelihood of such errors.

The US House of Representatives Science Committee has taken the first steps to making human-centred design into a legal requirement in a recently published report. According to the report, the FAA should ensure that human factors research "is a precursor" to the design, development, acquisition and deployment of new technologies.

The report covers equipment for air traffic control, satellite navigation, security monitoring, and aircraft cockpits.

Source: Flight International