Signal Charlie

Dedicated to the continuous improvement of aerospace safety

Boundaries and Centers

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I am reading Asaf Degani’s book Taming HAL, a discussion of human interaction with automation. One thing I have observed is that the foundation of a good safety management system is clear, defined boundaries of operating envelopes.  Our body and our aircraft have limits, and while we can perform at the edges of these limits,  doing so effectively removes any margin for error (envelope protection). Aviation is a dynamic, complex environment subject to multiple influences, but the system is designed to handle one change at a time. It is not designed to handle compound emergencies, and automation does not have the creative problem-solving skills that we possess. Automation is great at doing one thing, don’t ask it to do two, and don’t push it past the edge.

So let’s think about it before we go. Takeoffs are optional, landings are not. Operating away from a safe center begins to strip away defenses and leave no room for human or machine to recover. Let’s be sure we fully understand our capabilities and limitations (our machine’s too) and operate conservatively.

 Fly Smart


Written by Clark

April 15, 2007 at 7:30 pm

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