Glossary
Our glossary contains frequently used terms and acronyms together with their explanations.

Human factors

People have always taken centre stage in air traffic control. They are the guarantors of safety and cannot be replaced by technology. There is a growing need to address the topic of human factors in the air navigation services.

In the past, the system “human-flight procedures-technology” has focused more on improving and developing flight procedures and less on human factors. The spotlight only moved to people when mistakes occurred. They are, after all, the ones who do the work, use the technology, apply the procedures and, at the end of the day, ensure the safety of the system.

While it is, however, all too easy to generalise and talk about "human error”, this does not explain why the occurrence happened. DFS is moving away from linear-causal explanation theories towards a more systemic approach. For this reason, DFS uses a standardised method to investigate "human error" in occurrences called HERA (Human Error in ATM). This structures and generalises the investigation by asking the staff concerned set questions. The goal of HERA is to analyse results in such a way that focuses more on the overall system and less on the individual. In other words, HERA does not solely focus on individual “errors”, rather it looks at how errors arose in the overall context. Human error is understood to be a symptom instead of the cause.

Staff involved in a critical incident are counselled according to the methodology of critical incident stress management (CISM). DFS launched this programme in 1998. It now has almost 100 peer counsellors around Germany.  The peers are trained how to interact with their colleagues after a critical incident, such as an infringement of separation. Peers are trained according to the standards of the international critical incident stress foundation (ICISF). Refresher courses take place on a regular basis and an annual CISM forum is held to help peers maintain their qualifications and acquire further knowledge. The CISM measures aim to lower stress reactions, enable those affected to return to work as quickly as possible and avoid post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

CISM is standard procedure at DFS. It is offered to staff and is used by them as a helpful and important means of support. It is professionally applied by peers. As DFS has training licences in CISM, we can pass our knowledge on to other air navigation service providers.