Human Factors in Contingency

Human Factors in Contingency


‘Human factors in Contingency’ considers the physiological, cognitive and perceptual aspects of contingency planning. It includes aspects of human resource management and hence extends from the identification of cross-border licensing and training issues during contingency planning through to counselling and support in the aftermath of a crisis.


The aim of human factors support for contingency operations is to ensure that air navigation service providers (ANSPs) have well qualified staff that are able to meet critical requirements for operator and managerial intervention during all stages of the contingency lifecycle.


The European Union legislation (in particular Regulation 2018/1139 (basic regulation)Regulation 2017/373 (ATM/ANS providers) and Regulation 2015/340 (ATCO licensing)) recognise the specific role that ATCOs play in the safe provision of air traffic services. The establishment of EU competence standards is designed to reduce fragmentation in this field, making for more efficient organisation of work in the framework of growing regional collaboration between ANSPs, is particularly relevant in the context of contingency planning. A common content for the initial controller training as well as a common format for ATCO licenses, medical certificates, unit training plans and competency schemes are recognized as steps towards the unification of levels of competency and service provision. Although ATCO licenses are not automatically recognized in all EU countries and exercising the privileges of an ATCO license in a different state is subject to the approval of that state's NSA (National Supervisory Authority), the common formats of these documents facilitate easier transition of ATCOS. This also makes possible to including the possibility that one state uses alternate (external) services from another state as part of their contingency plans. It should be noted, however, that Regulation provisions alone are not sufficient in this regard, and it is essential that the two states harmonise the requirements as regards qualifications and competence of ATCOs. A fundamental principle that must not be overlooked is that ATCOs are qualified to exercise the privileges of the ratings only in the sectors/Units for which they are trained. It is recognised that the initial training for ATCOs involves practice in the handling of unusual/emergency situations including for degraded systems etc. It is necessary however, to distinguish this training for emergency situations and the training needed to implement short, medium and long-term service continuity contingency measures. In addition, contingency planning must also consider necessary support for staff in the aftermath of a contingency - see the Further Reading section for more details.

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Further Reading

Additional information can be obtained through:

  • Human Factors Module - Critical Incident Stress Management - HUM.ET.ST13.30000-REP-01 released on 31 December 1997.
  • Critical Incident Stress Management User Implementation Guidelines released on 6 December 2005.

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