I have just read the report entitled “Would This Happen in Aviation” in issue 29. While I agree there are many similarities in both jobs, there are many differences too. Firstly this is not meant to be any kind of excuse for bad practice, however the life of a pilot and a ships officer are very different work schedule wise. Fatigue and rest hours are I suspect far less of an issue in the regulated world of aviation. The airline pilot isn’t living breathing and sleeping in his cockpit. He isn’t doing his job over and over for typically weeks if not months in many cases. He isn’t distracted by the worry over pirate attack, whether his family are fit and well since last seen weeks ago, about whether he has actually been paid for his trouble over the last couple of months, and he certainly won’t be getting the same sort of money an airline pilot receives. There are still human errors made in aviation, and when they are they typically have much higher cost in human tragedy. I was myself on a flight once where I had to remind the cabin crew the seat belt signs weren’t on as the plane throttled up at the end of the runway.
We agree that the working lives of mariners and airline pilots are very different. However, human factors issues are very important in both professions. One of these is how to prevent errors in routine operations. The point we were endeavouring to make in our comment in Issue 29 is that check lists can provide a valuable tool, provided of course that they are used properly and not treated as a “tick the box” exercise.