Situational Awareness and Workload Management in Aviation: A Case Analysis of the Crash of American Airlines Flight 965

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Alaba Idowu
Michael Shogbonyo



Objectives: The objective of this study was to examine the impact of workload management (WM) on situational awareness (SA) and determine factors leading to poor workload management in flight operations by analyzing the crash of American Airlines Flight 965.

Background: Approximately 85 percent of aviation accident reports mentioned the loss of SA. This necessitates examining factors contributing to the loss of SA to improve aviation safety.

Methods: An analysis of the data and information synthesis was done qualitatively to arrive at results, conclusions, and recommendations.

Results: The analysis of the crash revealed that inadequate equipment, ineffective communication, automation mismanagement, improper coordination and planning, and assumption could result in the loss of SA.

Conclusion: The conclusion showed (1) Inadequate equipment can contribute to ineffective WM and increase the chances of loss of SA, (2) maintaining SA has more to do with effective WM because poor WM prevents flight crews from accomplishing critical safety functions and divert their attention to irrelevant activities, (3) A lack of effective communication threatens flight safety and SA. It causes assumptions, which may eventually lead to poor WM,

Recommendations: (a) implementation of space-based radar services in regions without radar services, (b) timely repair of inoperative navigational equipment, and (c) having a standalone training for preparation, planning, and vigilance behavior to help the crew actively master the techniques of anticipating contingencies and actions that can lead to a high workload situation.

Application: Potential applications of this case study include ensuring effective WM to ensure SA in flight operations.

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