Under-reporting in aviation : an investigation of factors that affect reporting of safety concerns : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctorate of Philosophy in Aviation at Massey University, Manawatu, New Zealand

Thumbnail Image
Open Access Location
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Massey University
The Author
A substantial body of evidence suggests that reporting safety concerns and wrongdoing could contribute to improving safety if diligently applied within organisations. A number of aviation accidents suggest that the principles of reporting have not been embraced by the aviation industry; for example, there is evidence that aviation incidents are not always reported even when reporting is mandated by law. This thesis seeks to uncover factors influencing individuals’ intentions to report safety concerns in aviation and to whom such reports might be made. A case study of a New Zealand based example of how under-reporting in aviation may have contributed to the cause of a fatal accident was first presented as evidence of the research problem. Subsequently, four empirical studies of participants working or intending to work in the aviation industry were reported. The empirical findings provided consistent evidence of six factors (seriousness of wrongdoing, direct or indirect involvement in wrongdoing, working environment, legal protection of the reporter, motive of the wrongdoer, and relationship to the wrongdoer) that may influence both individuals’ perceptions of safety issues at the workplace, and their intentions to report wrongdoing. Evidence was also found that when participants do act upon being confronted with wrongdoing situations, they may not do so in a manner that is fully consistent with improving aviation safety. The implications of the empirical findings were discussed and a means of communicating information about what to do when confronted with evidence of wrongdoing in the aviation workplace was proposed. In conclusion, there is confusion in the aviation workplace regarding what matters should be reported to the regulatory authorities and to whom reports should be made. Until such confusion is resolved, the notion that all aviation accidents are preventable is somewhat unrealistic.
Aviation, Safety