24 May 2024: The content within the human factors section is being redeveloped. Check back soon for updated content.

Human factors (HF) are aspects of being human, such as our ability to process information, make decisions, communicate and adapt to situations, that either help or hinder people perform their jobs safely. 

The study of HF seeks to understand why people do the things they do and what can be done to support people’s performance, applying scientific knowledge from disciplines such as; psychology, physiology, sociology, biomechanics, and user interface design.

People are a critical part of complex systems, but their performance can be influenced by dynamic social, organisational and system factors. HF is thus integral to the design, development and operation of the aviation system as a whole.

HF traditionally focuses on errors people make and what can be done to reduce the likelihood of those errors. Current HF thinking now incorporates a focus on human performance, recognising that people contribute positively to safety. People are adaptable, innovative and resourceful, and these capabilities can support their performance in a positive way.

To support human performance, we need to understand how people perform their tasks in a real-world environment and what influences them. Learning from this will help people maintain and improve their performance and wellbeing, and also improve the overall safety of the system.

 Ask us about human factors

If you have any questions about this topic, email humanfactors@caa.govt.nz