HFACS System (Human Factors Analysis and Classification)

HFACS System

Human Error is defined as a deviation from intention, expectation or desirability. In short it means an unintended action that is not in the normal intended pattern of human behavior.  As part of human behavior it is believed that no person sets out to intentionally commit an error so when they occur in the aviation industry an immediate investigation is conducted to determine the cause of said error. Within each of the 4 levels of the HFACS system, Organizational Influences, Supervisory

Factors, Pre-conditions for Unsafe Acts and Unsafe Acts, there are causal categories that are designed to identify the active and latent failures that occur. In their theory at least one failure will occur on every level before and accident happens and that if at any given time one of the failures are corrected before the accident occurs the accident won’t happen. By using the framework’s guide accident investigators are systematically able to identify active and latent failures within an organization that culminated in and accident.

HFACS framework


HFACS can be proactive by identifying failures before the accident happens saving lives, resources and property. It’s better to prevent an accident from happening rather than having to deal with it after it has taken place. It also allows for educating other on how to identify failures as well as address them. Although the HFACS framework exists it clearly does not mean that all who study can identify every issue that results in a failure therefore gaining different perspectives is always helpful.

The reactive side of HFACS system deals with learning from the accidents that take place. By studying them, investigators can identify failures and causes then relay that information back to the respective organizations who in turn can put policies in place to try and prevent the same errors from happening again. As difficult as it is to say, proactive and reactive sides of the HFACS are both learning situations from which a better and safer aviation industry is derived.

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