Boehm-Davis Testifies for Human Factors Research Funding at FAA


Citing the need for increased spending on human factors research at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Deborah Boehm-Davis, PhD, testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation on February 27. She presented the testimony on behalf of APA, the Federation of Behavioral, Psychological and Cognitive Sciences, and the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES).

Dr. Boehm-Davis, Assistant Provost at George Mason University, is Past-President of APA Division 21 and of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. She spoke of the increasing need to reduce the incidence of human error as air traffic increases. "Funding for human factors research has been eroding steadily. Instead, money has been invested in new and better technologies. What this ignores is the fact that three out of four airline accidents involve human performance errors. Furthermore, the cost of human factors research is small compared with the cost of new technology. In fact, the total investment in human factors research at the FAA for 1 year is less than the cost of one typical accident."

APA, the Federation, and HFES called for a minimum investment of $30 million for human factors research at FAA. The administration's 1998 budget calls for $27 million, a decrease of nearly $1 million from the 1997 funding level.

Dr. Boehm-Davis told the committee about her recent FAA-funded re-search aimed at improving the consistency of the evaluation of airline pilots. "To the extent that this approach is used, we feel we will have better and more reliable assessments of which pilots are safe to fly and which ones are not."

The full text of the testimony and Dr. Boehm-Davis's remarks are posted on the Public Policy Office Web page [http://www.apa.org/ppo/scitest2.html].