Hemant Bhana

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




According to the FAA’s forecasts, air traffic growth will outpace infrastructure growth into the future. Thus, the solution to this discord involves increased use of technology to enable more aircraft to use the existing airspace and infrastructure more efficiently. Automation levels and sophistication in transport category aircraft will only increase in the future as evidenced by the trend toward satellite-based navigation. As automation technology has advanced, the role of the airline pilot has changed. This paradigm shift is seeing pilots move from active participants in the flying duties of the aircraft to automation managers relegated to monitoring the automated systems. A possible consequence of this is increased levels of boredom in individual pilots due to the decreased involvement pilots have in the management of the flight. Automation technology has improved to where the aircraft’s flight management systems can manage an entire flight from shortly after take-off to touchdown. As automation increases so does the risk of automation complacency, defined as the pilot abdicating responsibility to the automation or failing to supervise it adequately. The study examines whether a correlation exists between boredom and automation complacency practices. Other research variables included type of operation (international versus domestic), longevity in aircraft, and frequency of attention lapses. The sample consisted of active professional airline pilots at a major airline as defined by revenue in the United States (N=273). Each pilot completed a survey that included general demographic data, the Boredom Proneness Scale (BPS), an automation complacency practices questionnaire, and some automation philosophy questions. The survey also probed self-assessed boredom and frequency of attention lapses. Pearson Correlation Coefficients allowed for a quantitative analysis between the variables, while the free comments section in the survey facilitated a qualitative examination of the issues and underlying causes. The results indicated a small but statistically significant positive correlation between boredom proneness and automation complacency practices (r=.181, p=0.01). Other statistically significant positive correlations included self-assessed state boredom and frequency of attention lapses (r=.293, p=0.01). The research has implications for employee selection, training methods, and operating procedures for individuals engaged in extended vigilance and monitoring of automated systems.