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A very temporary operating instruction: uncovering emergence and adaptation in air traffic control

A very temporary operating instruction: uncovering emergence and adaptation in air traffic control
A very temporary operating instruction: uncovering emergence and adaptation in air traffic control
The introduction of temporary instructions to amend standard operating procedures, to address emerging safety risks, is an example of the well-intentioned decision-making that occurs every day in organisations that manage safety. These organisations typically assess these changes for potential risks; however, even simple changes can have unpredictable and emergent effects in complex sociotechnical systems. A case study of a procedural change in UK air traffic control, to address the risk from unintentional flight level deviations, is explored through the use of a model of adaptation to understand the unexpected and unpredicted effects of the change and uncover the adaptations that already existed within normal work that were a source of safety. Recommendations on the need for systemic safety methodologies that can identify and enhance the features of sociotechnical systems that support this adaptive capacity are identified with reference to this model for adaptation in complex sociotechnical systems.
adaptation, emergence, Air traffic control, safety assessment, systems thinking
0951-8320
Stanton, Neville
351a44ab-09a0-422a-a738-01df1fe0fadd
Plant, Katherine
3638555a-f2ca-4539-962c-422686518a78
Foster, Craig James
5559934e-d31a-4187-8bc1-bf7f39ddf4f4
Stanton, Neville
351a44ab-09a0-422a-a738-01df1fe0fadd
Plant, Katherine
3638555a-f2ca-4539-962c-422686518a78
Foster, Craig James
5559934e-d31a-4187-8bc1-bf7f39ddf4f4

Stanton, Neville, Plant, Katherine and Foster, Craig James (2020) A very temporary operating instruction: uncovering emergence and adaptation in air traffic control. Reliability Engineering and System Safety, 208. (doi:10.1016/j.ress.2020.107386).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The introduction of temporary instructions to amend standard operating procedures, to address emerging safety risks, is an example of the well-intentioned decision-making that occurs every day in organisations that manage safety. These organisations typically assess these changes for potential risks; however, even simple changes can have unpredictable and emergent effects in complex sociotechnical systems. A case study of a procedural change in UK air traffic control, to address the risk from unintentional flight level deviations, is explored through the use of a model of adaptation to understand the unexpected and unpredicted effects of the change and uncover the adaptations that already existed within normal work that were a source of safety. Recommendations on the need for systemic safety methodologies that can identify and enhance the features of sociotechnical systems that support this adaptive capacity are identified with reference to this model for adaptation in complex sociotechnical systems.

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Accepted/In Press date: 25 November 2020
e-pub ahead of print date: 18 December 2020
Published date: 18 December 2020
Keywords: adaptation, emergence, Air traffic control, safety assessment, systems thinking

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 445924
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/445924
ISSN: 0951-8320
PURE UUID: a6e898aa-06d3-46e8-bcfb-a46a9a994dbb
ORCID for Neville Stanton: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-8562-3279
ORCID for Katherine Plant: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-4532-2818
ORCID for Craig James Foster: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-7294-3727

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 14 Jan 2021 19:14
Last modified: 18 Feb 2021 17:32

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Contributors

Author: Neville Stanton ORCID iD
Author: Katherine Plant ORCID iD
Author: Craig James Foster ORCID iD

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