A review of human factors causations in commercial air transport accidents and incidents: From to 2000–2016

Document Type

Journal Article


Elsevier Ltd


School of Engineering


Originally published as : Kharoufah, H., Murray, J., Baxter, G., & Wild, G. (2018). A review of human factors causations in commercial air transport accidents and incidents: From to 2000–2016. Progress in Aerospace Sciences, 99, 1-13. Article can be found on the publishers website here


Human factors have been defined by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as “about people in their living and working situations; about their relationship with machines, with procedures and with the environment about them; and about their relationships with other people (at work)”. Human factors contribute to approximately 75% of aircraft accidents and incidents. As such, understanding their influence is essential to improve safety in the aviation industry. This study examined the different human factors causations in a random sample of over 200 commercial air transport accidents and incidents from 2000 to 2016. The main objective of this study was to identify the principal human factor contributions to aviation accidents and incidents. An exploratory research design was utilised. The qualitative data were recorded in a database, and were coded into categories about the flights (including date, manufacturer, carrier, state of occurrence, etc). These categories were then analysed using Chi-Squared tests to determine which were statistically significant in terms of having an influence on the accidents/incidents. The most significant human factor was found to be situational awareness followed by non-adherence to procedures. In addition, charter operations proved to have a significantly higher rate of human factor related occurrence as compared to other type of operations. A significant finding was that Africa has a high rate of accidents/incidents relative to the amount of traffic and aircraft movements. These findings reflect some of the more noteworthy incidents that have received significant media attention, including Air Asia 8501 on the 28th of December 2014, TransAsia Airways 235 on the 4th of February 2015, and Air France 447 on the 1st of June 2009; these accidents resulted in a significant loss of lives where situational awareness and non-adherence to procedures were significant contributing factors.