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A Summary of Unmanned Aircraft Accident/Incident Data: Human Factors Implications
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    Final Report
  • Abstract:
    A review and analysis of unmanned aircraft (UA) accident data was conducted to identify important human factors issues related to their use. UA accident data were collected from the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force. Classification of the accident data was a two step process. In the first step, accidents were classified into the categories of human factors, maintenance, aircraft, and unknown. Accidents could be classified into more than one category. In the second step, those accidents classified as human factors related were classified according to specific human factors issues of alerts/alarms, display design, procedural error, skill based error, or other. Classification was based on the stated causal factors on the reports, the opinion of safety center personnel, and personal judgment of the author. The percentage of the involvement of human factors issues varied across aircraft from 21% to 68%. For most of the aircraft, electronic failure was more of a causal factor than human error. One critical finding from the analysis of the data is that each of the fielded systems is very different, leading to different kinds of accidents and different human factors issues. A second finding is that many of the accidents that have occurred could have been anticipated through an analysis of the user interfaces employed and procedures implemented for their use. The paper summarizes the various human factors issues related to the accidents.

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