James Norman

Date of Award

December 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Aerospace Sciences

First Advisor

Mark Dusenbury

Second Advisor

Daniel Adjekum


Aviation safety culture research does not exist regarding the specific factors that either promote or discourage voluntary safety reporting among different frontline groups in U.S. Part 121 operations. Moreover, while safety culture has been shown to vary across workgroups, cross-sectional research across multiple aviation organizations regarding voluntary reporting is lacking. To address this gap in the literature, an exploratory study was conducted utilizing a sequential, confirmatory mixed methods approach. A 28-item survey was distributed to air traffic controllers, dispatchers, maintenance technicians, and pilots. The instrument quantitatively assessed organizational safety values, reporting friction, previous reporting experience, just culture, and voluntary reporting propensity utilizing structural equation modeling/path analysis and natural language processing. Semi-structured interviews were then conducted with subject matter experts from each professional group to explore factors that encourage or discourage voluntary reporting among frontline workers. Results indicated a consistent lack of feedback, limited mediation of just culture, and positive attitudes towards reporting ease. Pilots and dispatchers generally had more favorable views towards reporting and trust than did air traffic controllers and maintenance technicians. Findings of this study will help the aviation industry to identify inconsistencies in reporting culture across frontline groups and prevent asymmetric information conditions in safety management systems, given the industry’s push towards data fusion and need for a holistic view of the safety hazard environment from all employees.