Users must have the skills and training necessary to understand both how and when to apply automation features.

The skills of the user population coupled with the training provided to them will have a significant impact on the success and safety of any new automation system. For a user to be able to successfully operate a new piece of automation they must have the required skills and must be given comprehensive training on the proper use of the automation. Automation will never achieve its intended benefits if the users are not adequately prepared to operate the automation.

Why It's Important

An unprepared user population will at best lead to a loss of the automation’s intended benefits. At worst, the user is at risk of misapplying the automation and contributing to an adverse safety event. Proper operation of automation can be achieved through a combination of good design and effective training program. Users need to know what the automation is designed to do and they need to understand the limits and limitations of the system. User errors can be minimized through an effective training program including initial and recurrent elements.

New automation systems that require new skills may introduce risks if all members of a user population do not possess the required skills. Automation which requires new skills could result in significant costs associated with updating personnel selection criteria or staffing requirements.

Design and Implementation Considerations

Preparing the user involves more than just explaining how to execute a series of function using the automation. Training programs must expand to describe when (and when not) to use each function and how those functions integrated with other existing systems and procedures. Users should also be trained on the appropriate use of automation during normal, non-normal, and emergency operations. This should include training on recovering from the failure of an automation system. Automation designers should also consider whether automation systems will require skills beyond the current skill requirements.

Further Reading on Training & Skills

Automation and Human Performance: Theory and Applications – Raja Parasuraman & Mustapha Mouloua

The Interfaces Between Flightcrews and Modern Flight Deck Systems – Federal Aviation Administration

Operational Use of Flight Path Management Systems – EUROCONTROL

Human Factors – Curt Graeber

Automation in Aviation: A Human Factors Perspective – René R. Amalberti'.doc