Ergonomics can be defined as 'the study of how well humans fit and adapt to the physical and cognitive aspects of their work'.

The dictionary [1] definition refers Ergonomics as "The applied science of equipment design, as for the workplace, intended to maximize productivity by reducing operator fatigue and discomfort.

Theoretical frame

The benefits of ergonomics are that if applied efficiently it is possible to increase both efficient and safety simultaneously without having to compromise either of them.
A modern day working environment such as an aircraft cockpit is equipped with the latest sophisticated and ergonomically designed equipment not only creates a more user friendly environment, but has the potential to increase efficiency, reduce cognitive work load for the operators, thus possibly increasing safety.

Five aspects of Ergonomics.

Safety- Designing equipment with safety defences, that aim to prevent accidents and incidents.

Comfort- Ergonomic design principles apply to create more user friendly equipment.

Ease of use- Ergonomics designs which enable easier operating methods for the operator.

Productivity- Applying ergonomics to increase performance and efficiency.

Aesthetics- Ergonomics designs applied to create a more artistic and positive environment.

Ergonomic design principles play a crucial role within society, especially in places of living, and production of goods and services.

However, it is important to be aware of human deficiencies relating to the interaction between operator and machine. It is possible operators may become not complacent upon ergonomic designs, over looking basic and fundamental aspects of the operation.
Furthermore it must be understood that ergonomic design is aimed at a specific group of operators, and particular individual may not experience the benefits such as efficiency, safety, and productivity through its design as they may differ from the intend ideal individual and thus be counter-productive and create possible safety concerns, which defeats the purpose of ergonomics.

Supporting evidence

Ergonomics and Aviation

Safety and ergonomics are correlated in order to improve the safety of conducting flight operations. Thus one of the most crucial area in aviation in regards to ergonomics will be the Cockpit designs and systems locations. The design of the cockpit is neccesarily a compromise between economics, the need to acommodate the range of crew sizes and shapes, positioning of instruments and controls for optimum functional reach without compromising lookout and operation of the aircraft [Campbell & BagShaw (1999 2)].

1. Ergonomics of pilots seats

Goossens, Snijders and Fransen (2000 [5]) carried out an ergonomical analysis of pilots seats of five different types of civil aircraft. When the results were compared with the existing standards of ergonomically designed pilots seats, it was apparent that these seats hardly met the requirements especailly the inclination of the seat, effective depth, armrests and the height of the lumbar support. It was noted that the bionechanic factors were unsatisfactory meeting 1 to 3 requirements of 7. Thus, these seats made impossible for pilots to set up a confortable and safe sitting posture.

2. Ergonomics of the Refale

A literature authored by Guigou (1996 [4]) suggests the importance of ergonomics in designing an aircraft to effective and safe use. Although his study involves data for cockpit design of the Rafale, his suggestion are much wider to both civil and military aviation. He suggests that to make the crew's work safe aboard and around the aircraft, ergonomically designed features can help in the following major areas:

  • crew safety - physiological protection in normal use, ejection and life support.
  • situational awarness - information inside and outside the aircraft
  • crew reaction
  • crew comfort, access and accommodation.
  • standard visibility
  • positions of displays and their orientations
  • throttle and stick design
  • inforation distribution
  • cost effectivenss
  • designing for g-force
  • voice input devices with maximum comfort

He added that these features are essential for efficiency and safety and designers should take man-machine interface as the biggest considerations.

Refuting evidence

Way forward (to do list)

1. American Heritage Dictionary. (2008). Definition of Ergonomic. Information retrieved on 12th October 2008 from Yahoo Education offical website:
2. CAMPBELL, R. D. & BAGSHAW, M. (1999). Human Performance and Limitations in Aviation. (2nd Eds). UK: Blackwell Science.
3. DISCHER (2007).The Five Aspects of Ergonomics., Retrieved 28th Sept 2008.
4. Guigou, M. (1996). Ergonomics within the Rafale. Nouvelle Revue Aeronautique Astronautique, 6. 19-26.
5. Goossens, R. H. M., Snijders, C. J., & Fransen, T. (2000). Biomechanical analysis of the diamension of pilot seats in civil aircraft. Applied Ergonomics, 31, 1, 9-14.
6. WICKENS (1999).Aerospace Psychology. Academic Press. (London), 1999.

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