Date of Award

7-2016

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Aviation

Department

Doctoral Studies

Committee Chair

Tim Brady, Ph.D.

First Committee Member

Dothang Truong, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Antonio Cortés, Ph.D.

Third Committee Member

Terrence K. Kelly, Ph.D.

Abstract

The International Standard, Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO), with a Safety Management System (SMS) as its core element, has been widely accepted by both the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the business aviation industry as the mechanism to create a healthy safety culture among the business aviation operators who have implemented the standard. Scholarly literature, however, has presented leadership as the most important factor in the creation and management of a healthy safety culture in organizations in general and aviation organizations in particular. This study examined and compared the effects of IS-BAO progression and leadership performance on the perceptions of safety culture in IS-BAO-registered business aviation organizations. Under the auspices of the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), the 566 IS-BAO registered operations in the United States were randomly sampled, and 181 operators participated. For each selected operator, the IS-BAO registration level and the number of years the operator was IS-BAO registered were obtained through IBAC. Each of the 181 operators was provided a link to an electronic survey. The survey measured respondent perceptions of safety culture and leadership performance through the four leadership-organizational frames as theorized by Bolman and Deal (2013): structural, human resources, political, and symbolic. A total of 980 responses were received, of which 846 were usable and 771 actually used after multivariate outliers were removed. Confirmatory factor analyses verified the safety culture perceptions construct and factor loading on Bolman and Deal’s frames and demonstrated convergent and discriminant validity. Structural equation model (SEM) analysis determined the relationship between safety culture perceptions and IS-BAO progression was not significant (R = -.026, p = .933). SEM analysis was also used to examine the relationship between safety culture perceptions and leadership performance in each of Bolman and Deal’s leadership frames and determined that the relationship between safety culture perceptions and leadership performance in the structural frame was positive and significant (R = .507, p = .013); the relationship between safety culture perceptions and leadership performance in the human resources frame was positive and significant (R = .505, p = .002), the relationship between safety culture perceptions and leadership performance in the political frame was not significant (R = .268, p = .405), and the relationship between safety culture perceptions and leadership performance in the symbolic frame was not significant (R = -.483, p = .095). Results of this study indicated that IS-BAO progression did not significantly affect safety culture perceptions, but leadership performance, as manifested in the structural and human resources frames, did affect safety culture perceptions. While the results were of limited generalizability due to sample size limitations, they provided scientifically derived evidence to support the importance of leadership in the creation and maintenance of positive safety culture in IS-BAO-registered business aviation operations.

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