The activated failures of human-automation interactions on the flight deck

Wen Chin Li*, Matthew Greaves, Davide Durando, John J.H. Lin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Cockpit automation has been developed to reduce pilots' workload and increase pilots' performance. However, previous studies have demonstrated that failures of automated systems have significantly impaired pilots' situational awareness. The increased application of automation and the trend of pilots to rely on automation have changed pilot's role from an operator to a supervisor in the cockpit. Based on the analysis of 257 ASRS reports, the result demonstrated that pilots represent the last line of defense during automation failures, though sometimes pilots did commit active failures combined with automation-induced human errors. Current research found that automation breakdown has direct associated with 4 categories of precondition of unsafe acts, including 'adverse mental states', 'CRM', 'personal readiness', and 'technology environment'. Furthermore, the presence of 'CRM' almost 3.6 times, 12.7 times, 2.9 times, and 4 times more likely to occur concomitant failures in the categories of 'decision-errors', 'skill-based error', 'perceptual errors', and 'violations'. Therefore, CRM is the most critical category for developing intervention of Human-Automation Interaction (HAI) issues to improve aviation safety. The study of human factors in automated cockpit is critical to understand how incidents/accidents had developed and how they could be prevented. Future HAI research should continue to increase the reliability of automation on the flight deck, develop backup systems for the occasional failures of cockpit automation, and train flight crews with competence of CRM skills in response to automation breakdowns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-172
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Aeronautics, Astronautics and Aviation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Sept 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Accident investigation
  • Automation surprises
  • Cockpit design
  • Decision aids
  • Human factors
  • Human-automation interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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