Human factors is a multidisciplinary effort to generate and compile information about human capabilities and limitations and apply that information to equipment, systems software, facilities, procedures, jobs, environments, training, staffing, personal management, to produce safe, comfortable, effective human performance (FAA definition)  

Human Factors Engineering (HFE) is the science that deals with the application of information on physical and psychological characteristics to the design of devices and systems for human use, taking in to account the human capabilities and limitations. HFE applies to: design, training, personnel selection, procedures, and other topics. In RPAS design Certification: focusing in design and procedures, and operation.  Moreover, Human Factors Integration (HFI) is concerned with providing a balanced development of both the technical and human aspects of equipment procurement. It provides a process that ensures the application of scientific knowledge about human characteristics through the specification, design and evaluation of systems.

In the design of RPAS is fundamental the application of Human Factors Engineering (HFE). 

  • Human Factors and its engineering aspects involve the application of knowledge about human capabilities and limitations (SHELL model) to the design of technological systems (e.g. GCS design). 

  • Human Factors must be addressed during the design and the Certification, and Qualification process in order to enhanced the aircraft safety, and it ́s operations, and minimizing crew error. 

  • Safe and efficient aviation requires that human performance be considered at all stages of the system lifecycle, from design, construction, training of personnel, operation and maintenance.

During the RPAS design process, the central principles of Human Factors should be considered for CERTIFICATION: 

  • Perception: The operator must first gain information from the displays in the GCS. This information must be unambiguous, correct, in the right format and at the right time to facilitate a decision. 

  • Decision: The decision must be implanted in the GCS via controls and this leads to action. 

  • Action: A good control will translate the operator’s intentions effectively, efficiently (with minimum of effort) and must provide feedback. 

  • Feedback: Finally, the operator must obtain unambiguous knowledge of the result of their action to determine the appropriateness of this action.


The application of a ‘Human Factors’ methodology to the GCS design and Certification process seeks to ensure that a ‘user-centered’ process is followed whereby the operator’s needs, requirements and limitations are fully understood and are considered in the provision of the Human Machine Interface, i.e. the displays, controls and operating environment in the GCS. Autopilot in the system induces complacency in the pilots and they become casual in performing the tasks.  

The GCS must be design with the “Human Centered design concept”, so the Human Factors considerations must be taken in to consideration.