Pilot error is an increasingly critical issue for airframe manufacturers, the FAA, airlines, pilots, and the flying public. While pilot error captures the spotlight, “design error” often underlies pilot error. This paper discusses the differences between systematic (design or procedure induced) and random pilot error and the implications of these classes of error for the cockpit design process. It will be argued that systematic errors can be reduced with design and procedure guidelines based on a better understanding of human error. The danger of attempting to eliminate systematic pilot error through automation will be examined, and the automation-related topics of complacency and skill reduction will be discussed. The need to evaluate the potential for new kinds of errors with the introduction of new automated devices will also be discussed. We will also consider the notion that random pilot error can never be eliminated, and review why this implies systems should be designed to be error tolerant.