Dr. Kathy Abbott

Dr. Kathy Abbott

Chief Scientific & Technical Advisor for Flight Deck Human Factors, Federal Aviation Administration

Kathy Abbott, PhD, FRAeS, has over 40 years of experience specializing in aviation human factors. She currently serves as the Chief Scientific and Technical Advisor for Flight Deck Human Factors to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on human performance and human error, systems design and analysis, flight crew training/qualification, and flight crew operations and procedures. Dr. Abbott has led the integration of human engineering into FAA/international regulatory material and policies. She has been involved extensively in accident, incident, and other safety data analysis. She serves as the FAA liaison to industry and other government and international agencies dealing with human factors.

Dr. Abbott has extensive experience speaking at conferences, workshops and seminars. She has spoken at WATS in previous meetings, and has spoken at many US and international venues. Examples include:

  • 2022 – Provided a briefing at WATS on flight path management
  • 2021 – provided a regulatory perspective in an RTCA webinar on Human Factors in Design and Certification
  • 2020 – provided a briefing on aviation human factors to and lessons learned from flight deck automation to two MIT classes: Air Transportation Architecture/Autonomy Class and to Human/Systems Integration.
  • 2020 – Gave an invited presentation to Florida Institute of Technology Human Factors Practitioner Seminar on January 17, 2020, Melbourne, FL.
  • 2020 – provided HF briefing to Penn State University Technical Symposium to Aero Engineering faculty and graduate students
  • WATS 2019 “Automated Systems and Manual Flight Operations: Finding a Balance” with Colleen Donovan.
  • WATS 2016 “Managing Automation or Managing Aircraft Flight Path: How does Pilot Training Need to Evolve?”
  • Royal Aeronautical Society Flight Operation Group (FOG) “Out of the FOG” Inaugural lecture, March 2015, London, UK.
  • Lessons Learned with Automated Systems, Flight Safety Foundation/Eurocontrol Safety Seminar on Safety and Automation, Brussels, Belgium
  • Aircraft Accident Investigation Branch Centenary Conference, October 2015, London, UK.
  • Boeing Human Factors and Ergonomics Community of Experts Seminar, November 2015.
  • Royal Aeronautical Society Human Factors Group Conference on “Predicting the Fatal Flaws,” November 2015, London, UK.

FAA Flight Path Management Advisory Circular: Current and Future Directions

Safety concerns related to manual flight, managing automated systems, pilot monitoring and energy management have been highlighted in recent operational and safety data. The topics are considered to be part of Flight Path Management (FPM), defined here as the planning, execution, and assurance of the guidance and control of aircraft trajectory and energy.

These safety concerns led the Federal Aviation Administration to publish a new advisory circular (AC) to address FPM. AC 120-123 Flightpath Management provides guidance and recommended practices for operators to implement operational procedures and pilot training for to meet the regulatory requirements in Part 121, its appendices and Part 135. The guidance was derived from extensive FAA and industry study of accidents and incidents where ineffective FPM was causal or contributory, in addition to the recommendations of the Air Carrier Training Aviation Rulemaking Committee.

The most recent data analyses have highlighted some key areas in use of automated systems, including dependence on/over reliance on automated systems. This presentation will discuss the operational and safety data analysis results; each of the four topics in the initial version of the AC; and topics to be included in future versions of the advisory circular.