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Centre of Applied Research Technology

Nancy Leveson – “Engineering a safer world”

26 Sept 2014 14:35

On Wednesday the 24th of September, Professor Nancy Leveson flew in from Germany to give a lecture on the topic of ‘Systems-Theoretic Accident Modeling and Processes’, or STAMP. Prof. Leveson provided an energetic lecture to a mostly aviation oriented audience.

Therefor Prof. Leveson used a variety of aviation accidents, including crashes of the Mars Polar Lander and Comair flight 5191, as well as the Überlingen mid-air collision to illustrate her theories and thoughts. In the end, there are a couple of lessons to consider: the idea of a root cause is highly seductive to people - assuming there is a root cause gives us an illusion of control, human error is a symptom – not a cause, and top-down accident research is infinitely more effective than bottom-up accident research – the latter is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Finally, one of the questions from the audience and the subsequent answer of Prof. Leveson learned that the chemical industry sector is about the only sector in which no headway in systems theory was made, as it appears to be by far the hardest sector to persuade. Attendees this afternoon included not only students of the Aviation Academy, but also around 70 professionals from various companies and (international) organizations, who deal with safety aspects at least on a regular basis. 

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