Better Predator Operator Training Needed:

The rate of Predator unmanned aerial vehicle mishaps is on the rise mostly due to human error, according to Robert Nullmeyer, a Mesa, Arizona-based research psychologist assisting the Air Force Research Laboratory. Speaking at the Unmanned Systems Symposium and Exhibition in Washington last week, Nullmeyer explained that accident data reviewed for 1997 to 2006 showed equipment problems were the primary factor; however, more recent accident data indicates a “statistically significant shift.” He said that 83 percent of recent mishaps were due to human error. The major operating problems come down to issues such as skill and knowledge deficiencies, channeled attention, and lack of crew coordination. Nullmeyer noted that the Air Force is working to figure out “what we need to be doing” in terms of simulator training as well as crew resource management training. And, he asserted, “Maybe we need to be looking at a more robust operating environment.”