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Emergency and Abnormal Situations

Emergency, abnormal, and off-nominal situations represent a unique challenge in the operation of all complex systems. Operators must maintain a high degree of proficiency in relevant procedures  rarely have an opportunity to practice them. A wide range of contextual factors affect the demands these situations pose, but the focus of emergency and abnormal situations training is often on completing a specific procedure, rather than on managing the situation as a whole. Also, training sessions tend to focus on situations in which a single problem triggers the use of a particular procedure, whereas in real operations multiple problems may occur simultaneously, and cues about the nature of the situation are ambiguous or may seem contradictory. Coordination of all those involved (such as pilots, cabin crew, ATC, dispatch, maintenance, and passengers during aviation emergencies) is essential for ensuring effective response to emergency and abnormal situations.  In our research we examine checklist and procedure design, content, and use; human performance capabilities and limitations under stress and high workload conditions; personnel and crew coordination issues; training; and the situational, operational, and contextual demands of emergency, abnormal, and off-nominal situations affecting operator response.

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