Date of Award

January 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Thomas V. Petros


Between 2001 and 2010, the Federal Aviation Administration determined 40.2

percent of fatal general aviation accidents in the United States, or 1,259 accidents, were

caused by inflight loss of control. General aviation accidents continue to be responsible

for more than 440 fatalities each year in the United States, and approximately 40 percent

of these are caused by loss of control, mainly stalls. This sequential mixed methods

study tested the theory that the number of stalls in the traffic pattern in light general

aviation aircraft can be reduced when aircraft are equipped with supplemental angle of

attack instrumentation designed to provide the pilot continuous situational awareness

regarding remaining lift available for the current aircraft configuration and flight

conditions. Quantitative research questions first addressed the relationship between

stabilized approaches and installation of supplemental AOA systems through multiple

regressions. Safety surveys of flight instructors and students were then used to probe

significant findings regarding AOA system contributions to flying stabilized approaches.

These follow up surveys were designed to better understand the quantitative results as

well as collect information useful to developing future training. Over the course of 1,616

analyzed approaches flown between October 1, 2013 and December 31, 2014, the

addition of supplemental angle of attack systems alone did not significantly increase the

likelihood of subject pilots flying a stabilized approach. The overall regression models

for airspeed and altitude elements of stabilized approaches were significant, but no

significant effect of supplemental AOA systems was observed. Likewise, checking each

individual AOA system for influence on approach performance against the control group

of unmodified aircraft yielded no significant effects. Technical limitations of flight data

collection equipment and lack of formal training for subject pilots were identified as

possible masks of AOA system effects. Recommendations for formal training and future

research are made based on these limitations.