Safety & Human Performance Research in Healthcare/Aviation Environments

My research initiatives are in the area of reducing risk, managing hazards and effectively changing systemic, as well as short/long term behaviors that support those ends. Effective safety management systems (SMS), regardless of the environments in which it is practiced, require various data from continuously reliable sources. In behavioral terms, the most effective use of these data will be to transform it into some form for particular user groups. What forms these data should take has been proposed from many current quality measures. These quality measures may, or may not, fit the particular high risk industry needs. Future safety management system challenges will be how easily the data is collected, how easily the data is complied, how the data is displayed, and how timely the data can be fed back into the system. Given the explosion of hand-held technology, cloud computing access may be one answer. Research must be done at the level of the job-performer using innovation applications with cloud computing integration. Can a systemic solution be developed to provide fine-grained data collection and dissemination?

Rather recently a disturbing change has occurred within our industry regarding the top accident categories. We now see that "loss of aircraft control" has replaced controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) as the number one cause of aircraft hull loss and fatalities. This should be of great concern to many in the flight education business. The research question is this; given the rapid move to increase the numbers of technologically advanced aircraft (highly automated) for primary training while simultaneously reducing the exposure to "stick and rudder skills", especially with regard to actual USRT, will we see an increase in the number of entry level professional pilots with no or low recovery skills? To what extent is USRT useful during primary training or should it only be applied during one's professional development while employed?

The digital to analog study examines the potential to lose situational awareness resulting from a stark transition from digital instrumentation training only to analog flying. It is very likely a reduction in situational awareness may result from poor stimuli recognition and mismatched rule formulation. This may also lead to loss of control with or without effective recovery.

Dr. Rantz is also examining many perplexing problems involving human factors on the flight deck. Line oriented safety audits from the airlines continue to report "improper checklist use" as one of the most common errors recorded during line observations. While there may be many reasons for poor checklist performance, errors in early flight training should not contribute to low checklist performance during a pilot's career. Recent studies examined to what extent checklist performance may, or may not degrade over time and to develop mitigating technologies to improve performance.


The Effects of a Stark Transition from Digital to Analog Flight Instruments Study (Whitehurst & Rantz)

The Paper, Digital, & Aural Checklist Improvement Study (Hilton)

The Paper & Digital Checklist Improvement Study (Rantz)

The Paper Checklist Improvement Study (Rantz)


Research Acknowledgment!

No animals were harmed during these experiments!