Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Underperformance During Crisis Decision-Making Situations: A Qualitative Theory on the Role Distractions Play in Pilot Performance
by Boettcher, Gary William, Ph.D., Sullivan University, 2014, 297; 3635038
Abstract (Summary)

Aviation accidents are pervasive and ubiquitous enough that they transcend the boundaries of all aviation organizations—general, corporate, commercial, and military organizations. All aviation bodies have experienced loss of life and total destruction of aircraft during their respective operations. Historical research indicates that some pilots make egregious errors (Bisignani, 2010; NTSB, 2010; Boeing, 2009) when they do not complete checklists and ultimately deviate from normal procedural practices during high-stress events. Why otherwise competent and qualified pilots make these kinds of egregious errors is elusive and has escaped the grasp of quantitative researcher understanding. This qualitative study used semi-structured interviews so pilots could tell their stories and share their perspectives on why they had to repeat a simulator evaluation checkride. Through the lenses of the pilots' perspectives, the pilots' voices established a database from which data were coded, compared, categorized, further coded, and analyzed using grounded theory methodologies as espoused by Corbin and Strauss (2008). Qualitative analysis generated substantive theory grounded in the data. Two conceptual models are presented to support the substantive theory. The substantive theory indicates that pilots can become so distracted by abnormal and nonstandard events that their awareness of what needs to be done next is overshadowed by those distractions. In other words, pilots lose their situational awareness and engage in non-standard activities that result in process errors. Pilots must learn distraction mitigation strategies to maintain their focus and avoid becoming overtasked. This theory is presumed to be transferable to other high-stress professions.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wilkin, LaVena
Commitee: Cooper, Robin, Daniel, Terry
School: Sullivan University
Department: Conflict Management
School Location: United States -- Kentucky
Source: DAI-B 76/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social research, Behavioral psychology
Keywords: Accidents, Aviation errors, Decision making, Distraction, Grounded theory, Task-loading
Publication Number: 3635038
ISBN: 978-1-321-15831-1
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