New MIL-STD-1472 Revision G, “Human Engineering”

There’s a new Revision G for a long time favorite Department of Defense Design Criteria Standard here at Document Center  — MIL-STD-1472, “Human Engineering.”  No, this is not a cloning manual!  This 381-page standard establishes general human engineering (aka human factors engineering) design criteria for military systems, subsystems, equipment, and facilities.

The purpose of this standard is to present human engineering design criteria, principles, and practices to optimize system performance.  The new revision makes full consideration of inherent human capabilities and limitations as part of the total system design trade space to more effectively integrate the human as part of the system, subsystems, equipment, and facilities to achieve mission success.

Human engineering is one of seven domains of Human-systems integration (as defined in the DoD 5000 series). The purpose of this standard is to present human engineering design criteria, principles, and practices to be applied in the design of systems, equipment, and facilities in order to:

a. Achieve required performance by operator, control, and maintenance personnel.

b. Achieve required manpower readiness for system performance.

c. Achieve required reliability of personnel-equipment combinations.

d. Foster design standardization within and among systems.

This standard does not alter requirements for system development participation of human engineering specialists to interpret and implement these practices and to provide solutions to human engineering problems which arise and which are not specifically covered by the document.

MIL-STD-1472 has not had a thorough technical review since the late 1980s. MIL-STD-1472D was promulgated in March 1989 and addressed the level of technology that existed through 1988 or possibly 1987. The “E” revision, released in 1996, was mostly cosmetic; the text was changed to a non-proportional font in order to reduce white space. The “F” revision from 1999 consisted mainly of moving the anthropometric data from MIL-STD-1472 to MIL-HDBK-759, but little else. As a result, requirements and design criteria contained in previous versions of MIL-STD-1472 may no longer be applicable to today’s technology. The operational benefits of emerging technologies may be limited due to the out-of-date design criteria.

The changes made in the Revision G over the previous version are substantial. The organizational structure of the standard was revamped to group similar material in the same section of the document. Obsolete provisions (e.g., reference to dot-matrix printers) were deleted, out-of-date provisions were updated to reflect the latest research, and new provisions were added to address emerging technologies.  There is a section (6.4) where the changes are summarized.

Tomorrow’s systems will depend on greater cognitive processing on the part of the human operator, maintainer, and support personnel. Portable or wearable computers are likely to be commonplace. New display concepts such as virtual reality, haptic (touch sensing), and three-dimensional are receiving a great deal of interest, as are voice, pointing, gesture, and eye-blink control systems.

Technology, if misapplied, will impose human performance requirements that cannot be satisfied. Many technologies are evolving rapidly; the human is not. The benefits of new technologies may not be realized if one fails to consider human capabilities and limitations.

The new MIL-STD-1472 and all publicly distributed Department of Defense documents are all available from Document Center Inc.  You can order on our website,, or by phone (650-591-7600), fax (650-591-7617) or email (  We provide additional services including auditing, monitoring and reporting on standards collections.