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UK Civil Aviation Regulations

These are published by the CAA on our UK Regulations pages. EU Regulations and EASA Access Guides published by EASA no longer apply in the UK. Our website and publications are being reviewed to update all references. Any references to EU law and EASA Access guides should be disregarded and where applicable the equivalent UK versions referred to instead.

As the UK's specialist aviation regulator, this strategy sets out how we propose to contribute to the development of greater understanding and application of Human Factors (HF) knowledge to support Human Performance (HP) in the operational environment. It builds on previous versions; sets out what we want to achieve; lays out our Strategic Objectives; and describes the expected benefits and outcomes.

Supporting the strategy is the HF Action Plan which provides the detailed programme of work.

The strategy will be periodically reviewed to ensure that it remains aligned with global trends and other relevant national and international aviation safety plans and programmes. The HF Action Plan will be updated on a biennial basis.

Executive summary

The aviation environment is dynamic. It is constantly changing and evolving. How we understand the influences on people's behaviours and actions continues to develop. The aviation industry needs to focus on how to support people to be able to perform their allocated tasks safely in all circumstances.

In recognition of this, the CAA's HF strategy seeks to move to a more proactive approach towards supporting and developing human performance in aviation. It will seek to understand people's limitations and how their capabilities can enhance safety. Application of human factors knowledge needs to include how people really behave in the operational environment, so that the equipment, processes, procedures and technology can support people to do their best.

We want to include everyone involved in the aviation system. We will encourage the industry to consider their people earlier in the process because they are an essential element of aviation safety. Our strategy focuses on collaboration, aviation is global and so are the challenges we face. Aviation is a system of systems, it covers multiple interconnected activities, organisations and people.

Our objectives are:

  • better use of data and information
  • embedding Human Factors assessment within normal oversight activities
  • supporting our inspectors to develop their knowledge and competencies
  • promoting best practices
  • collaborating with our stakeholders and other safety critical industries
  • remaining aligned with international standards

The CAA cannot do this alone: everyone has their part to play in improving safety outcomes. This is a continuous improvement process aimed at supporting aviation safety developments, not just for today but also for the future.

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Our vision is that everyone involved in civil aviation systematically applies Human Factors knowledge and Human Performance principles to improve aviation safety.

Human error alone is still often seen as the sole explanation for aviation accidents and incidents. However, to maintain and improve aviation safety, this view needs to be updated. The CAA's vision seeks to work collaboratively with all our industry communities to improve understanding and management of the factors that influence HP. This will be achieved through appropriate risk-based regulation and oversight, as well as safety promotional activities to lead and effect change.

Lessons need to be learnt not just from reactive information, but from proactively identifying influences on HP. Every incident or accident may be unique but history shows the fundamental reasons frequently repeat themselves. We need to consider the different individual, organisational and operational environments. Advancements in technology and the rapidly changing global aviation environment will also have a significant influence on people and how they perform. By taking an inclusive and systemic approach, the CAA and everyone involved in aviation can support the development of optimal HP, now and in the future.

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The CAA's HF strategy focuses on developing greater awareness and understanding of HF. This will support proactive management of HF influences on HP. It aims to establish a consistent approach towards the understanding and oversight of HP requirements within aviation. Through its strategic objectives, it establishes a framework for the CAA's HF programme, recognising the need for a flexible approach to support the variability of those involved in the aviation industry.

The strategy is focused on working collaboratively to promote more innovative approaches in assessing and managing HP in the real world. It seeks to proactively support the development of regulatory approaches based on Performance Based Oversight (PBO) and risk assessment.

Risks to aviation safety are complex and influenced by multiple contributing factors. We need to be able to support and manage people within their operational environment to reduce and mitigate risks. To improve HP there needs to be a deeper understanding of the influences on teams and individuals. These influences include, but are not limited to: organisational, cultural, internal, external, systemic, and personal. Through understanding these influences, we should be able to support the development of practical approaches necessary to support and improve HP.

To do this, we will be developing our oversight methodologies and developing inspectors' competencies. Supporting the development of oversight approaches will enable the CAA to be better positioned to evaluate the effectiveness of the current safety barriers. It will also allow us to learn from the positive contribution of humans in the aviation system. However, to embed change all those involved will need to demonstrate greater consideration of the influences on people. We should all focus on how to support people so that they can maintain the required level of safety performance for a specific task.

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People have limitations that influence their actions and their level of performance can vary daily. However, they also possess capabilities that support their performance in a positive way. People are flexible, innovative, and resourceful. To understand HP within the aviation environment consideration needs to be given to both human limitations and human capabilities. With HF, we are seeking to understand why people do the things they do. However, HP is focused on understanding how people actually perform their tasks in a real-world environment. It is the contribution of people to the system's performance.

Aviation safety performance statistics show it remains one of the safest industries in the world. However, to maintain and improve safety outcomes we must continue to develop our approach. We need to understand HP in the current and the future aviation environment. This must be done against the backdrop of the economic pressures on resources faced by all within the industry.

So, resources must be applied efficiently, in a way that accounts for the different risks and the different influences on individuals and organisations. Early consideration and understanding of HF within change management processes can deliver both safety and business benefits. Early consideration of the end user can ensure that task and technology considers the operational environment to support optimal HP. This prevents expensive redesign requirements or complex work arounds that could impact on safety.

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Strategic objectives

  • Proactive use of data and intelligence
  • Integrated approach
  • Developing inspectors' competencies
  • Demonstrate expected performance
  • Collaborative partnership
  • HF in change management
  • Globally aligned
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There are many published examples of how early consideration of the impact of HF influences increases efficiency, reduces error, supports HP and can provide significant return on investment. These potential benefits, along with the statutory obligation towards safety and the implementation of SMS, provide incentives to seek a deeper understanding of HP within aviation.

Greater knowledge of systemic influences, as well as individual capabilities and limitations, will enable efficient and effective use of human and organisational resources. Through understanding the influences on people within their own environment, individuals and organisations can support people to perform to the best of their ability in completing a required task. Thus, providing a high level of safety, efficiency and individual engagement.

Early consideration of people in the design of equipment, technology and the development of procedures, will improve both safety and efficiency. Consideration should also be given to related aspects within the aviation system, such as the different teams that work collaboratively within the system. The interfaces between competing or even conflicting goals, of the individuals or teams involved also needs to be considered to optimise HP. Promotion and awareness of the multiple and variable challenges that people face will reduce the risk of potential mismatch between expected levels of performance and the actual level of performance in the real-world environment.

To develop this awareness, the CAA's strategy focuses on greater collaboration nationally and internationally. We can also learn from other safety critical industries. These partnerships should realise greater improvements in understanding and applying HP knowledge. In turn, this will enable the CAA to develop and promote a consistent approach toward HF/HP requirements. It will be focused on supporting all our aviation communities and improving regulatory oversight of statutory requirements.

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With this strategy and the resources dedicated to it, the CAA is demonstrating that it remains committed to improving how HF is understood and the impact it has on the behaviours and actions of the people within the system. Our collaborative approach with enable the CAA to remain engaged in influencing European and global approaches to HF/HP.

The success of this strategy will be measured through evidence of a maturing approach towards HF/HP within UK aviation. This should result in:

  • demonstrably improved levels of HF/HP competence of aviation personnel
  • increased reference to environmental and organisational influences on HP during internal audits and incident investigation
  • routine audit processes include assessment of HP principles associated with the specific task and environment
  • changes in HF incident investigation techniques that examine contributory and systemic issues
  • identification of systemic actions during audits and incident investigation with a reduction of blame towards an individual
  • reduction of audit closure based solely on retraining
  • implementation of proactive assessments of HP aimed at improving the working environment and task development
  • early consideration of the inclusion of HF/HP within risk assessments and change management as well at all stages of the process
  • collaboration and awareness within all areas of the aviation system to develop methods to improve HP
  • changes to processes and procedures to better reflect the operational environment and its influence on people's performance
  • a developing understanding as to how people contribute to developing and maintaining safety in every day operations
  • the development of regulations and guidance material that includes specific HP criteria
  • regulatory oversight approaches that include individual, organisational and environmental HP markers
  • the CAA is recognised as an authority that actively supports, develops and promotes improvements in HF knowledge and HP within the aviation industry.

The CAA's biennial HF action plan details out programme of work to deliver the strategic objectives and monitor their effectiveness against these outcomes.

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Previous strategy documents

The previous HF strategy and action plan documents are available below, and have now been superseded by the updated information contained above.

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Related Information