Managing HF Issues for ATM Projects


The role of Human Factors (HF) in air traffic management (ATM) system design, evaluation and implementation is critical, particularly as a balanced trade-off between humans and automation is necessary and inevitable for future air traffic growth. However, project managers are faced with the following challenges:

  • HF issues that are complex and difficult to identify
  • HF interventions made too late
  • Justifying resources and budget for HF
  • Acceptance by end users
  • Applying HF flexibly, not prescriptively

These challenges led to five principles on which to structure the HF Case:

  • A practical process to capture HF issues
  • A process to enable timely interventions
  • Facilitation for project managers to make a case for HF within a project
  • A structure to enable expert input as well as end user involvement
  • An adaptable process to meet different project requirements.


The HF Case is a EUROCONTROL process to systematically manage the identification and treatment of HF issues as early as possible in a project’s lifecycle. The HF Case is a five stage process as follows:

  • The HF Case is a management tool to provide a process to address HF issues for a project. A phase of the process includes the identification and analysis of HF issues, their impacts and mitigation. The application of the HF Case integrates subject matter experts and HF knowledge.

Key outputs from the HF Case are:

  • HF Action Plan.
  • HF Recommendations which can feedback into all aspects of ATM system design, implementation and operations.
  • HF issues to feed into a Safety Case.

When is the HF Case initiated?

The HF Case can be initiated at any stage of a project’s life cycle. Ideally the HF Case should be initiated at the earliest possible stage in the project lifecycle.

Where is the HF Case Applied?

An HF Case can be applied to a number of projects i.e.

  • Bespoke systems - new, tailor-made systems;
  • Commercially available systems - ‘Commercial Off The Shelf’ (COTS) systems and products;
  • Systems implemented elsewhere - main emphasis on local implementation issues;
  • Modified systems extended by new system level functionality;

In short, an HF Case should consider anyone who is affected by system changes and how their performance contributes to the total system performance.

Further Reading


Direct access the Human factor cases here:


SKYbrary Partners:

Safety knowledge contributed by: