Human Error in ATM (HERA)

The Human Error in European Air Traffic Management (HERA) is a project dedicated to the human factors perspective in incident/accident investigation, safety management and prediction of potential new forms of errors arising from new technology.In aviation, as in any industry, statistics indicate that human error is a contributing factor of the majority of incidents and accidents. As such, Human error is seen as a potential weak link in the ATM system and, therefore, measures must be taken to prevent errors and their impact, and to maximise other human qualities such as error detection and recovery.

The HERA Project has developed tools and methods for the prediction, detection and management of human error in ATM.

Who it is for

The tools and methods are dedicated to incident investigators, safety managers and; human factor specialists and engineers involved in ATM.


What it has developed

The HERA project has developed a concept for the classification of Human Error in the operational air traffic management environment. This project initially developed a model, methodology and technique to assist incident investigators in the accurate assessment of human error in ATM occurrences. This included joint research and development work with the FAA to harmonise a common approach to this problem known as HERA-JANUS.

Twelve months of testing the HERA-JANUS technique in the field with incident investigators and safety managers, culminated in a detailed validation activity to finalise the development and conclude its effectiveness as a human factors incident investigation tool.

HERA-JANUS is now used in several European countries and training is available;

The HERA technique is also part of the suite of tools used by the Safety Unit in its development of investigation activities and is being implemented within the TOKAI toolkit.

Related products

Related HERA Products

Three related tools are available to predict the possibility of human error in the system (HERA-PREDICT), observe errors and their management (HERA-OBSERVE), and to support the management of safety (HERA-SMART)

HERA Predict

Safety is at the heart of the aviation system and, for years to come, human beings will remain its core element. Visible human errors are only the tip of the iceberg, there are many more beneath the water. It is a truism that incidents tend to be the result of a chain of causal/contributory events.

Looking at these chains of events makes it possible to consider the whole system, not just the individual. The human factor input/involvement is of value because it is one of the ways in which the scope of error causation can be extended from the so-called ‘person at the sharp end’ to the wider organisational aspects.

HERA, by refining our understanding of errors and their associated contextual conditions, will contribute to a safer ATM system.

HERA Observe

Further work with the HERA technique in the observation of errors and their management has been undertaken and the resultant technique is known as the HERA-OBSERVE tool.

HERA Smart

The HERA Smart project dealt with how error in ATM can be analysed and evaluated to improve safety and efficiency in European ATM operations. The work was to develop an approach, HERA-JANUS classification technique, for safety management within ATM. The related report describes the developments made of the ‘Safety Management Assistance and Recording Tool (SMART)’ approach over an eighteen-month period, and details the results and recommendations.

HERA Support team

Contact us or the Service Manager for more information.

+32 2 729 33 98