Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Industrial and Systems Engineering and Engineering Management

Committee Chair

Sampson E. Gholston

Committee Member

Phillip A. Farrington

Committee Member

Sherri L. Messimer

Committee Member

L. Dale Thomas

Research Advisor

James Swain


Airplanes--Cockpits--Automation, Flight crews--Effects of automation on, Aircraft accidents


The research described in this dissertation was an empirical study of cockpit automation and aircrew accident performance in high performance aircraft. The data set consisted of 3,249 accident records released by the U.S. Naval Safety Center and publicly available information for high performance aircraft based aboard U.S. aircraft carriers between the years of 1980 and 2013. Five conclusions resulted from this study. The first result was a demonstration that through statistical analysis, it is possible to assess if different aircraft over a prolonged period of time have been exposed to a common operating environment. The second result was that while accident rate is the traditional method of measuring accident performance, the costs and/or fatalities associated with accidents may be more useful measurements. The third result was the use of current taxonomies of category, type and level of automation present in systems was sufficient for correlation of automation attributes to measures of human accident performance. Additionally, it was discovered and recommended that the list of automation categories be expanded to include one for human life support systems. The fourth conclusion from this study was that correlation did exist between certain configurations of cockpit automation and accident performance. The fifth conclusion is the observation of a potential connection between group identity fusion and fatality rate for accidents involving automated cockpit systems.



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