Date of Award

January 2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Aviation

First Advisor

Warren C. Jensen

Abstract

Automation complacency, boredom, and fatigue pose significant risk to aviation. There have been many incidents and accidents as a result of these challenges to human performance. In previous studies pilots have admitted to performing non-flight related activities in order to deal with these challenges. However, no research has been done on the frequency and perceived safety effects of non-flight related activities. If pilots are engaging in activities intended to counter these challenges, it is important to know the frequency and how pilots feel these non-flight activities affect safety.

This study used a survey tool to gather information regarding non-flight related activities from airline pilots in the United States. Participants provided data on frequency of non-flight related activities, perceptions of their safety effects, opinions on the activities related to automation complacency, boredom, and fatigue, and general information on the positive and negative outcomes of these activities. Results suggest that pilots routinely engage in non-flight related activities during cruise flight and perceive most of the activities to be safe. In addition, pilots believe that these activities help to prevent boredom, which then helps to prevent automation complacency and fatigue. Pilots seem to understand that these activities can have negative safety implications, but overall have more positive outcomes.

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