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Although human factors study has been in existence since the late 19th century, new and related areas of research in the field of general aviation have been of interest lately in the study of human factors. These would include areas such as understanding human error, vision and illusions, effects of fatigue, body rhythms and communication theory. Considering that almost three-fourths of the reports received by the National Aviation Space Authority (NASA)’s ASRS reporting system involve some form of communication error, aviation psychology researchers have focused their attention on this area. According to communication theorists, there are four elements required for communication to take place: the sender, the message, the medium and the receiver. The sender involves who or what is sending the message; it could be ATC communicating a clearance, a system in the cabin communicating information about the aircraft, or the pilot communicating a control input to the aircraft. The message involves what is actually being communicated, i.e., the clearance by ATC, a complaint by one of the passengers, or an indication from one of the aircraft’s gauges.'s gauges. The medium is how the message is sent: auditory or visual, over a radio, data uplink or in person. The receiver is obviously, who receives the message and is not always who the message is intended for: aircraft with similar N-numbers. Considering the complexity involved in every bit of communication, the reason for the number of problems that arise should be very clear. As pilots, be it ATPs, instructors, or weekend flyers, it is imperative that clear concise communication be consistently exercised. Otherwise, we become a statistic or turn others into one.
Clear and concise communication leads to an effective communication process where the receiver decodes what the sender has sent. In cases when correct decoding of the message did not take place, a breakdown in the communication process occurs presenting danger especially to the situation where people's lives are at stake. The aviation industry recognizes this problem area that is the reason for attempts to further develop and improve automation in the process. Technologically-driven innovations to automate operations in the aviation practice are continuously being studied in the hope of minimizing communication-related errors.
It is along this light, that this paper attempts to address the question "How automation affects communication in aviation"
The fields of aviation, communication in aviation, automation and human factors have been widely-written and studied as published in journals and technical papers and as presented in various specialized gatherings of scientists researching on these fields. Below are some of these researches.
Parasuraman and Wickens (2008) discussed the empirical studies of human-automation interaction and their implications for automation design in their research paper entitled "Humans: Still Vital After All These Years of Automation." Since automation is prevalent in safety-critical systems such as in aviation and medicine and increasingly in everyday life particularly in office operations, several studies of human performance in automated systems have been conducted over the past 30 years. The authors examined developments in three areas, namely: levels and stages of automation, reliance on and compliance with automation, and adaptive automation.
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ation was developed, the technical knowledge gap and deficiencies among the pilots and the operating crew members also grew proportionately, resulting in several accidents and incidents, which posed a major threat to the aviation industry. The data are analysed in this