PhD Research Projects

Human factors and ergonomics as a scientific discipline: the relationship between theory, research, and practice
Dr Amy Chung
Supervisor: Prof. Ann Williamson
Human factors and ergonomics (HFE) is an applied scientific discipline with a strong emphasis on evidence-based practice. However, in reality, there is often a `research-practice gap¿. This is characterised by ongoing tension between researchers and practitioners, and low research utilisation in practice. A series of studies were conducted to examine the nature and extent of this issue. Study 1 was an international survey of 587 HFE professionals to examine the nature of the research-practice gap. Results showed that practitioners are more likely to perceive access and applicability of research to be barriers to applying research findings in practice compared to researchers. Study 2 and Study 3 then examined the extent of the research-practice gap in an international survey of 309 HFE professionals. Study 2 investigated HFE professionals¿ evaluations of journal article attributes, and Study 3 investigated their selection of journal articles in an online setting. Results of Study 2 and Study 3 showed that both researchers and practitioners in HFE perceive journal article attributes relating to practical significance to be much more important than attributes relating to theoretical significance, and researchers and practitioners make similar selections of journal articles to read. These results suggest that the research-practice gap may not be as large as previously thought. More importantly, these results suggest the possibility of a theory-research gap in HFE. Study 4 examined trends in the research published in HFE peer-reviewed academic journals. A content analysis of 425 journal articles published in Human Factors, Ergonomics, and Applied Ergonomics from 1960 to 2010 was conducted. Despite increased contribution from researchers, the published research has a stronger focus on practical applications compared to theoretical implications. Thus publication practices in HFE could be improved to enhance both the use of theory and specification of the practical application of findings. These results suggest that the heavy emphasis on the link between research and practice may have been misguided, and more attention should be given to the link between theory and research to ensure that HFE practice rests on firm scientific foundations.

Normal operations monitoring
Dr Louise Raggett
Supervisor: Prof. Ann Williamson
Managing risk has become increasingly important in modern organisations. Managers recognise it is difficult to manage without measurement, however, it is difficult to know what to measure in order to drive the continuous safety improvements, promised by modern safety management systems. One industry where safety performance improvement appears to have stalled, is aviation ground operations. Unlike the flight operations, which is now regarded as an Ultra-safe system (Amalberti 2001, p. 109) ground aviation has languished behind the rest of the industry (Verschoor and Young 2011), with activities on the ramp now accounting for more than a quarter of all aviation incidents (Balk and Bossenbroek 2010). In recent years, both damage to aircraft on the ground, as well as harm to ground personnel have escalated (Passenier 2015 p. 38).The aim of this research was therefore to review current approaches to safety measurement and develop a new data collection tools to inform evidenced-based interventions that will reinvigorate ground safety improvement.
To achieve this models and measures influential to aviation safety are reviewed. The Threat and Error Management Model (TEM) and Line Operation Safety Audit (LOSA) method (Klinect, Murray, Merritt and Helmreich 2003) are critically examined for their suitability. Strengths and weaknesses are identified, with the aim of building on the benefits of LOSA whilst addressing key concerns about LOSA s validity. A new model and method are proposed known as Normal Operations Monitoring (NOM). NOM is applied in a ground handling organisation, with data collected from over 1300 observations of aircraft turnarounds.
The results provide novel data about human and safety performance and suggest new opportunities for safety interventions and improvement. Implications for ground safety are explored as well as the potential applications and benefits of NOM generally. The final discussion explores ways in which the current research and NOM tools could be taken forward as a method for informing and improving safety management in high hazard industries.

An investigation into human factors influencing driver behaviour and traffic law enforcement in Jordan
Dr Faisal Magableh
Supervisor: Prof. Raphael Grzebieta
This dissertation investigates the human factors influencing driver behaviour and traffic law enforcement in Jordan. The research was carried out using two separate survey studies
that aimed to determine the factors that are significantly associated with receiving traffic fines and being involved in crashes and to investigate the perceptions of drivers and traffic Police concerning traffic law enforcement and driver behaviour. A total of 501 drivers and 180 Police officers were surveyed.
Study one (I) focussed on driver attitudes, behaviour and compliance factors. The results showed that gender modified the relationship between some independent factors and study outcomes. Crashes for males were significantly associated with previously receiving distraction fines, instances of being stopped by Police, being intimidated by other drivers and previously receiving traffic fines. Crashes for females were significantly associated with violating traffic signs, being intimidated by other drivers and previously receiving traffic fines. Study I also showed that more than half of drivers reported a sense of unfair treatment and Police selectivity and favouritism regarding traffic law enforcement. These factors might be profoundly affecting many Jordanian drivers' motivation to violate traffic rules.
Study two (II) investigated Police officers work environment, enforcement perceptions and practices. The results showed that many Police officers complained of their work conditions, life and work pressures and unpleasant treatment when dealing with drivers. There was some lack of understanding of the role of the religion in road safety and an underestimating of the level of risk of some driver behaviour as well as a reduced capacity in assessing crash contributors. Some factors related to a driver s networking, authority, position and nepotism were found to affect Police enforcement decisions.
The findings of both studies are discussed and some recommendations have been suggested with regard to drivers and traffic Police to improve road safety in Jordan. In particular, it appears that the role of religion along with Jordanian social culture in regards to care for family and individual safety on Jordan s roads, and respect for road laws and the Police who enforce them, can be utilised to improve road safety in Jordan.

Close enough is not good enough: improving the reliability of accident and incident classification systems in high hazard industries
Dr Nikki Olsen
Supervisor: Prof. Ann Williamson
This thesis aimed to understand the factors influencing the reliability of accident and incident classification systems in high-hazard industries and subsequently, to develop methods to achieve high consensus in these classification systems. To explore reliability the Human Factors Analysis and Classification System and its Australian Defence Force derivative version were used as case studies for reliability assessment. The reliability of each system was assessed and factors associated with coder expertise, training and usability explored. The research was then extended across all accident and incident classification systems by using classification theory to guide a strategic review of reliability. This involved qualitative and quantitative analyses of the factors affecting user consensus conducted across more than twenty classification systems across six safety-critical industries. As a result four recommendations were developed for improving the reliability of classification systems. These included designing domain-specific systems, limiting system size and reducing psychological and bias-causing terminology. These recommendations were tested through application to the Australian Defence Force version of the Human Factors Analysis and Classification System. Promisingly, they improved reliability by more than twenty percent across all levels of the classification system. This research has built on previous studies of improving the reliability of accident and incident classification systems that have largely been limited to improvements of specific systems. The recommendations enable a more systematic approach to improving reliability across all accident and incident classification systems within high hazard industries. As a result, the likelihood of effective hazard intervention strategies will be increased and should lead to improvement of safety in high-hazard industries.

An evidence-based safety management system for heavy truck transport operations
Dr Lori Mooren
Supervisor: Prof. Ann Williamson
The aim of this thesis research was to find ways to improve safety in the heavy vehicle transport industry through the development of an evidence-based safety management system. This research was undertaken in light of disproportionate crash and injury risks associated with the heavy vehicle transport industry in comparison with other industries and other road users. The nature of the trucking industry presents some unique challenges for safety management at an organisational level. This thesis argues that a systems approach with evidence-based safety management elements can be developed into an intervention program that is likely to improve safety outcomes in the heavy vehicle transport sector.
Drawing from the knowledge from prior occupational safety and road safety research (Study 1), a study of safety management characteristics comparing those in good safety performing heavy vehicle operators and poor safety performers sought to synthesise the distinguishing features between them. Two empirical studies were conducted (Studies 2 and 3). The findings of these studies provided the basis upon which to build a safety management system (SMS) suitable for heavy transport vehicle operations. This process resulted in the identification of 14 safety management characteristics that have strong research evidence for inclusion in a safety management system (SMS) for heavy truck operations. These findings, together with analysis of sound theoretical models to underpin the SMS, were used to shape the SMS. The SMS features three spheres of management practices risk assessment and management, driver risk management and safety culture management. Drawing from the literature, a dynamic model of a safety management system is presented and explained. The original aim of this thesis research has been met, providing an evidence-based safety management system that is likely to reduce crash and injury risk when applied to heavy vehicle transport operations.

An investigation into human factors influencing driver behaviour and traffic law enforcement in Jordan
Dr Faisal Magableh
Supervisor: Prof. Raphael Grzebieta
This dissertation investigates the human factors influencing driver behaviour and traffic law enforcement in Jordan. The research was carried out using two separate survey studies that aimed to determine the factors that are significantly associated with receiving traffic fines and being involved in crashes and to investigate the perceptions of drivers and traffic Police concerning traffic law enforcement and driver behaviour. A total of 501 drivers and 180 Police officers were surveyed. Study one (I) focussed on driver attitudes, behaviour and compliance factors. Study two (II) investigated Police officers work environment, enforcement perceptions and practices. The findings of both studies are discussed and some recommendations have been suggested with regard to drivers and traffic Police to improve road safety in Jordan. In particular, it appears that the role of religion along with Jordanian social culture in regards to care for family and individual safety on Jordan s roads, and respect for road laws and the Police who enforce them, can be utilised to improve road safety in Jordan.

Maximising mobility and minimising injury risk in aged care: indexing environment related manual handling of people (MHP) risk controls that may influence patient mobility
Dr Robyn Coman
Supervisor: Dr Carlo Caponecchia
The manual handling of people (MHP) is a core activity for care workers in residential aged care, and is known to be associated with high incidence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Promoting patient mobility within the manual handling (MH) interaction is an endorsed MHP risk control intervention strategy that should reduce risk exposure for staff, and may also benefit the patient through increased independence and autonomy. However, while staff MHP intervention outcomes, have been extensively investigated, evidence of the impact on patient outcomes, including mobility, is limited. This project investigated the nature and extent of environment related MHP interventions that may influence patient mobility outcomes through review of the literature, trial of an existing PH assessment tool, and subsequent development of the Pro-Mobility Patient/Person Handling Assessment Tool or Pro-Mob for this specific purpose.

Characteristics of serious head injuries in pure rollover crashes and an evaluation of their replication in a dynamic rollover test
Dr Garrett Mattos
Supervisor: Prof. Raphael Grzebieta
Serious head injuries are a major concern in light passenger vehicle rollover crashes. There are efforts in the US and Australia to assess the feasibility of developing a dynamic rollover test to evaluate the crashworthiness of a vehicle in a rollover. However, detailed information about the characteristics of serious head injuries in single-vehicle single-event, i.e. pure, rollover crashes, and regarding the capabilities of the dynamic rollover test devices chosen for the separate US and Australian investigations, is lacking. To address this knowledge gap, two crash databases are investigated to describe the characteristics of head injuries and associated crash factors for pure rollover crashes in Australia and the US. Results from 80 dynamic rollover tests are analysed to evaluate the effects various test methods have on replicating and measuring ATD head response associated with serious head injury. The structural and kinematic responses of 48 vehicles in 83 tests conducted using the Jordan Rollover System (JRS) are evaluated. Logistic regression analysis is used to assess the relationship between the structural response of JRS-tested vehicles, and the occurrence of incapacitating or fatal injury in single-vehicle rollover crashes. Finally, a human body finite element model is subjected to impact conditions identified from dynamic rollover tests to demonstrate the effect of rollover-related impact parameters on a pattern of head and spine injury observed in crash data.

The biomechanical determinants of sport-related concussion: Finite element simulations of unhelmeted head impacts to evaluate kinematic and tissue-level predictors of injury and investigate the design implications for soft-shell headgear
Dr Declan Patton
Supervisor: Prof. Raphael Grzebieta
Concussion is prevalent in collision and contact sports and, therefore, an injury of specific interest. Laboratory and epidemiological research in football codes, in which headgear is not mandatory, has demonstrated the limited effectiveness of headgear in preventing concussion. To further understand the biomechanics of concussion and develop effective prevention methods, it was necessary to investigate the dynamics of head impacts in sport.

She'll be right: The link between attitude, risk perception, and experience in Australian general aviation
Dr Justin Drinkwater
Supervisor: Dr Brett Molesworth
Commercial Aviation in Australia has an enviable safety record, however, the General Aviation (GA) industry’s record is less impressive. Commercial pilots in Australia will by-and-large be trained in the GA industry, it is a critical link in the training of pilots, influencing them in the formative period of their careers. This research investigates the attitudes and behaviour of pilots in this stage of their career to determine whether or not the attitudes and behaviours of pilots at this stage of their career are inappropriate or if there are any unexpected attitudes prevalent. Additionally, the correlation between attitudes, risk perception, risk tolerance and behaviour in pilots is poorly represented in the literature. Therefore this research investigates the attitude towards risk, the perception and tolerance of risk and the risk behaviours of Australian commercial pilot candidates

An investigation into factors influencing hazardous materials truck crashes in Thailand
Dr Junjira Mahaboon
Supervisor: Prof. Raphael Grzebieta
A program of research was conducted to investigate factors influencing hazardous material (hazmat) vehicle crashes which are a significant road safety problem in Thailand and many other countries. The aims were to evaluate crash causes with regard to driver and organisational factors relating to hazmat truck crashes in Thailand.

Terminological similarity between medical error taxonomies and incident reports: impact on taxonomy usability, reliability, and usefulness for preventing medical errors
Dr Ibrahim Taib
Supervisor: Dr Carlo Caponecchia
Various medical error taxonomies have been proposed in the literature. It is possible that because different medical error taxonomies utilise different categories, such taxonomies classify different information. This thesis reviewed published medical error taxonomies using a human factors perspective. It was found that two-thirds of the taxonomies classified systemic factors and only a third utilised theoretical error concepts. Additionally, medical error taxonomies utilising different terminologies may not share information effectively, most probably because some information may be loss during the integration process. This thesis then examined the difference between generic and domain-specific medical error taxonomies.

Improving drivers' risk management behaviour: an assault on speeding
Dr Prasannah Prabhakharan
Supervisor: Dr Brett Molesworth
Research from the aviation industry has demonstrated that a cognitive training method, termed episodic training, can improve pilots' risk management in a simulated environment. Drawing from this research, experiment 1 aimed to investigate whether episodic training could produce similar improvements in motorists' risk management behaviour, namely in the area of speeding. The results revealed that episodic training was an effective method to reduce young novice drivers' tendency to speed in a simulated driving environment. Experiment 2 aimed to examine the impact of episodic training on drivers' cognitive resources, with the introduction of a secondary task. The results revealed that implementing a speed management strategy through episodic training was successful in isolation; however, when performed in conjunction with a secondary task, there was a trade-off in terms of how cognitive resources were allocated. This result prompted experiment 3 to explore the cognitive underpinnings of how young novice drivers distributed cognitive resources when performing a dual-task and whether it was possible to train how these resources were allocated. Cognitive resource allocation was calculated by assessing performance on a dual visual and auditory computer task. The results from this experiment revealed that individuals opted to evenly distribute cognitive resources in the dual-task exercise rather than allocate based on the demand characteristics of the task. The results also revealed that cognitive resource allocation can be trained by providing explicit feedback about performance.

Automation acceptance in air traffic management
Dr Marek Bekier
Supervisor: Dr Brett Molesworth
An increased use of automation within the ATM environment is seen to be one possible enabler for a significant capacity increase of the ATM system. However, often automated tools and systems are rejected by the Air Traffic Controllers unwillingness to cooperate with it. This research defines the threshold along the automation dimensions "decision selection" and "action implementation", where the support of the operators tips into skepticism and refusal to collaborate with it.

The choice behaviour of shippers in selecting cargo providers and the effects of choice behaviour on the formation of business partnerships in the emerging airfreight business structure
Dr Jungkyu Choi
Supervisor: A/Prof Cheng-Lung (Richard) Wu
This research defines factors which influence a customer's decision to choose an airline in cargo markets and to analyse the importance and relationship between each of the factors. In addition, it analyses the competition between airlines by using certain key variables affecting competitiveness. Also this research analyses the productivity in major airlines in cargo markets by several factors.

The effects of low-cost carriers on regional dispersal of domestic visitors in Australia
Dr Tay T.R. Koo
Supervisor: A/Prof Cheng-Lung (Richard) Wu
This research examines tourists' travel mode choice; in particular, the research examines the mode choice as a key factor influencing the link between affordable air travel and dispersal. With the aid of stated choice experiments and discrete choice models, three issues were examined: (1) the differences in the dispersal behaviour between low-cost carrier and network carrier users; (2) the effect of regional destination transport on dispersal; and (3) the effect of low airfares on the bypass of ground-mode-reliant regional destinations.

Frames in the flight deck: a sociological approach to situation awareness
Capt./Dr Simon Henderson
Supervisor: Prof. Jason Middleton
The aim of this research is to develop an alternative, sociologically based approach, largely drawn from Erving Goffman's (1974) Frame Analysis, and assess whether it can be used to effectively describe, analyse and discuss SA. This work establishes that Goffman's (1974) frame analysis theoretically supports the major underlying concepts of the SA construct. SA is shown to be a meaningful and observable social phenomenon. Additionally, a method derived from frame analysis is used to examine and analyse the observed intersubjective SA processes. Lastly, practitioner based notions of SA are shown to be equivalent to that of "frame".

Human factors in high-risk aviation: an analysis of influences upon aviation safety in the Australian Defence Force
Dr Boyd Falconer
Supervisor: Dr Steve Shorrock
Since 1990, aviation mishaps have cost the Australian Defence Force (ADF) the loss over 44 highly trained personnel and 23 aircraft, and a financial loss of several hundred million dollars. In contrast, Australian Regular Passenger Transport (RPT) operations have incurred no fatalities or aircraft losses. Whilst at first glance one may suspect the hazards of combat have influenced the significant losses within ADF aviation, Boyd's research shows that none of the losses have occurred whilst operating in military campaigns. Equally significant is the finding that only one ADF aviation mishap occurred outside Australian territories. Boyd's research provides a new analysis of data collected from approximately 1,000 ADF aviation professionals by an Australian Defence Force survey based on the Flight Management Attitude Questionnaire developed by the University of Texas Crew Research Project. A key innovation of Boyd's research is that, unlike previous research that merely compares culture and aviation safety between countries, his thesis examines the differences within the ADF organisation via a methodology based on military-specific categories of personnel groups or sub-cultures. Boyd's research highlights the significant impact of military rank upon attitudes towards flight management: a finding with safety benefits through human performance in both military and commercial aviation in Australia.

Observations of cosmic ray exposure levels in the higher southern latitudes and validation of predictive computer models.
Capt./Dr Ian Getley
Supervisor: Prof. Jason Middleton
Aircrew and passengers are subject to cosmic rays which have a higher intensity at altitude than at the earth's surface. In the Southern hemisphere in the Australian sector, the proximity of the South Magnetic Pole means that cosmic ray intensity is higher than elsewhere around the world. This project aims to measure cosmic ray intensity during a number of southern hemisphere flights where data is non-existent, and to compare the data with predictive computer programs.

Assessment of stress and cardiovascular function in trainee pilots
Dr. Lihong Kong (School of Biomedical Engineering)
Adaptation of cardiovascular response to stress can contribute to imrpovement of task performance.
The project aims at assessing trainee pilot cardiovascular response (pulse rate and blood pressure) under various conditions of applied stress, and determining changes over time. Visual, auditory, mathematical and logical stimuli were applied, with differing responses. Not all subjects respond in the same way. It is planned to compare these test results with results of flight training assessment.

An empirical investigation of the relationships between airline service quality, perceived price, service value, passenger satisfaction, airline image, and passengers' behavioural intentions.
Dr. Jin Wu Park
Supervisor: A/Prof Cheng-Lung (Richard) Wu
This research seeks to investigate the relationship of airline service quality with price, service value, airline image, passenger satisfaction and passengers' behavioural intentions. By acquiring data from both Korean and Australian passengers, the purpose of this research is to study and to understand choice behaviour of airline passengers. To test the conceptual framework, path analysis technique via Structural Equation Modeling is applied to data collected from airline passengers.

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Masters & Honours Research Projects

On the flight choice behaviour of business purpose passengers in the Australian domestic market
Hanson So
Supervisor: A/Prof Cheng-Lung (Richard) Wu

Statistical mechanics underlying the geographic distribution of visitors: a power law-inspired explanation
Pong Lung Lau
Supervisor: Dr Tay Koo

Aircraft line maintenance scheduling optimisation - a heuristic approach
Syed Shaukat
Supervisor: A/Prof Cheng-Lung (Richard) Wu

An analysis on the effect of safety information on flight choice in young travellers
Kristal Khoo
Supervisor: Dr Tay Koo

National culture and its impact on airline corporate culture
Pruet Boobphakam
Supervisor: Dr Ian Douglas

Airline fuel hedging and market value
Andoreal Chen
Supervisor: Dr David Tan

Research into airport retail with simulation
Yimeng Chen
Supervisor: A/Prof Cheng-Lung (Richard) Wu

Passenger Attention During In-Flight Safety Video
Dimuth Seneviratne
Supervisor: Dr Brett Molesworth

Network design and flight connectivity in long haul low cost carriers
Vivek Nair
Supervisor: Dr Ian Douglas

Integrating airline alliances with airport terminal resource allocation
Andy Lee
Supervisor: A/Prof Cheng-Lung (Richard) Wu

The causes of fatigue and its effect on pilot performance in general aviation environment
Hoi Kit Chan
Supervisor: Prof. Ann Williamson

An effective delay coding system for diagnosing airline network and operation problems
Tiffany Truong
Supervisor: A/Prof Cheng-Lung (Richard) Wu

The advantages of low cost subsidiary during economic downturn
Alvin Ng
Supervisor: Dr Ian Douglas

The effects of noise cancelling headsets on pilot performance: A study of native English speaking and EL2 pilots
Raymond Jang
Supervisor: Dr Brett Molesworth

Predicting pilots risk taking behaviour
Daniel Kwon
Supervisor: Dr Brett Molesworth

The effect of gender on driving behaviour
Hey Fung Tong
Supervisor: Prof. Ann Williamson

What product factors allow airlines to command a price premium on the Sydney to Los Angeles market?
Fu-Jui Hsueh
Supervisor: Dr Ian Douglas

Pilot error in ATC environments
Tom McCarthy
Supervisor: Dr Brett Molesworth

Effects of caffeine on pilot performance
Thomas Caska
Supervisor: Dr Brett Molesworth

Possible air linkages between Darwin, Cairns and international ports
Justin Drinkwater
Supervisor: Mr Rodger Robertson

Do airlines need A380?
Danny K.F. Chun
Supervisor: Mr Rodger Robertson

A comparison of introductory crew resource management training between the Australian Defence Force and Qantas
Kerry Wilson
Supervisor: Dr. Boyd Falconer

The changing role of the air transport pilot 1960-2006
Carl Schilg
Supervisor: Dr. Boyd Falconer

The low cost model evolution: a case study of Jetstar International
Jonathan W.F. Wong
Supervisor: Mr Rodger Robertson

The effects of caffeine on pilot's performance and learning ability
Ricky Young
Supervisor: Dr Brett Molesworth

Unruly passenger behaviour onboard aircraft
Sarah McGuigan
Supervisor: Prof. Jason Middleton

Australia's air traffic management performance measurement & reporting system
Christopher J. Reid
Supervisor: Dr Graham Braithwaite

A comparison of direct and indirect long-range air travel
Matthew Dunn
Supervisor: Prof. Jason Middleton

The development of aviation in the Middle East and its influence on the European aviation industry
Ernesto Archimandritis
Supervisor: A/Prof Cheng-Lung (Richard) Wu

Risk homeostasis theory and implications for the aviation industry
Lindsay Edmonds
Supervisor: Dr Graham Braithwaite

An analysis of the heads up display and future derivatives for operation at Sydney Airport
Dominic O'Kelly

The definition and investigation of latent conditions in aviation accidents and incidents
Nathalie Boston