TAP021: Situational Awareness

29 Mar 2017 15:44

Situational Awareness

"The perception of the elements in the environment within a volume of time and space, the comprehension of their meaning and the projection of their status in the near future" Mica Endsley 1988


3 levels (or stages) -

- Perception
- Comprehension
- Projection


4 Categories of SA -






Types of stress

Physical - noise, vibration, heat, cold and fatigue,
Psychological - mental load, time pressure, perceived time pressure, consequences of events fear, anxiety, uncertainty.

High workload is a form of stress and can be either long term high workload like a 4 sector day in busy airspace, with an inexperienced crew, or short term or even momentary high workload or overload like bad weather on approach.


These “clues” can warn of an error chain in progress – a series of events that may lead to an accident. Most accidents involving human error include at least four of these clues. They have been taken from an article written by Douglas Schwartz for FlightSafety International.

-Ambiguity - Information from two or more sources that doesn’t agree.

-Fixation- Focusing on any one thing to the exclusion of everything else.

-Confusion- uncertainty or bafflement about a situation (often accompanied by -anxiety or psychological discomfort).

-Failure to fly the aircraft - Everyone is focused on non-flying activities. (remember the infamous tristar crew that crashed into the everglades because all three of them were fixated on a blown bulb?)

-Failure to look outside… everyone heads down.

-Failure to meet expected checkpoint on flight plan or profile ETA, fuel burn, etc.

-Failure to adhere to SOPs.

-Failure to comply with limitations, minimums, regulatory requirements, etc.

-Failure to resolve discrepancies – contradictory data or personal conflicts.

-Failure to communicate fully and effectively – vague or incomplete statements.


How can improve our situational awareness.

These 10 tips were also part of Douglas Schwartz's article.

1 - Predetermine crew roles for high-workload phases of flight
2 - Develop a plan and assign responsibilities for handling problems and distractions
3 - Encourage input from all crew members, including cabin, ATC, maintenance, dispatch, etc
4 - Rotate your attention from the aircraft to flight path to crew – don’t fixate on one thing
5 - Monitor and evaluate your current status compared to your plan
6 - Project ahead and consider contingencies (for example if you hear aircraft ahead being told to hold)
7 - Focus on the details and scan the big picture
8 - Create visual and/or aural reminders of interrupted tasks (this could be as simple as keeping your finger on a checklist line)
9 - Watch for clues of degraded SA
10 - Speak up when you see SA breaking down





Duration: 23:18


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