n Ergonomics SA : Journal of the Ergonomics Society of South Africa - Factors associated with safety events in air traffic control

Volume 26, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1010-2728



This study identified factors associated with runway incursions and loss of separation in air traffic control (ATC) based on safety event reports from the years 2010 to 2012 in an African country. The main objective of ATC is to ensure the safe and orderly movement of aircraft both through airspace and on the ground at aerodromes. Eighty-four safety event reports on loss of separation incidents and runway incursions were analysed from airports across the country concerned. Core factors that were explored included factors that were cited in the reports as causes of the safety events, human factors, external factors and risk factors identified in the reports. Content analysis, cluster analyses and multivariate logistic regressions were used. Results showed that in terms of the causal factors that were stated in the reports, incomplete clearance issues, and radar and visual monitoring failures were strong predictors of loss of separation. Although these errors also predicted runway incursions, they were not strong predictors of this safety event. Of the human factors cluster, only errors in information processing (specifically interpretation and auditory detection errors) were significantly associated with safety events. In addition, physical workplace designs, poor adherence to co-ordination standards and lack of memory cues were associated with safety events.

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