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Aerospace

Top award for Southampton flight safety researcher

Published: 29 May 2014Origin: Engineering

Postgraduate research student Katie Plant at the Transportation Research Group at the University of Southampton has won an award for her work to improve safety for helicopter pilots.

She is the first Southampton student to receive The Honourable Company of Air Pilots (Saul) Prize for Aviation Safety for her investigations into pilots' decision-making using a variety of sources; one was a case study of the Kegworth plane crash on the M1 in 1989 which killed 47 people, Katie has also interviewed pilots about critical incidents they were involved with.

"I feel privileged to receive this award as it highlights the importance of research into human factors in improving flight safety. If we can understand more about how pilots make decisions, we can design better systems for them," she says.

The prize was awarded by Dorothy Saul-Pooley, Master of The Honourable Company, who graduated in 1979 with a Law degree and now owns Pooleys Flying Instructor School in Shoreham, West Sussex. "I am very proud of my University and I am delighted to see the creation of the Company's partnership with Southampton," she says. "We were all very pleased to meet Katie. She is a wonderful example of students today, working at the cutting-edge of aviation safety research, and we are thrilled to be supporting her success."

Katie is supervised by Neville Stanton, Professor of Human Factors in Transport. She plans to use her £2,000 prize money to attend the Australian Aviation Psychology Association conference in November.

Research into human factors at Southampton offers insights into the way people work, through the understanding of the interactions between humans, technology, tools, activities, products and their constraints.

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