Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Aeronautics


Applied Aviation Sciences

Committee Chair

Dr. Frank Richey

Committee Member

Dr. Jon French

Committee Member

Professor Michele Summers


The purpose of this research was to evaluate the general level of trust in technology in student pilots and then to determine the relationship between pilots' trust and their situational awareness during simulated flight. A literature review revealed that the Jian Trust Scale was based on empirical observations and had precedence in the literature so it was selected. Since excessive reliance on technology can make the operator passive and unquestioning, ultimately loss of situational awareness may result. The main hypothesis tested was to establish the relationship between measurements of trust on the ground and situational awareness in simulated flight; pilots who had lower-trust in technology were expected to have to maintain higher levels of situational awareness. Conversely, higher-trust pilots were expected to have lower situational awareness due to an over reliance on the equipment. Instructor pilots rated the 30 students in simulated flight using a modified Situation Awareness Global Assessment Techniques (SAGAT) score and this was compared to their Trust score derived from ground based testing. The results were opposite from those expected but significant facts were discovered. The pilots with the highest trust scores showed the best situational awareness. This study concludes that the trust is not blind in ERAU pilots, they seem to trust the instruments and yet also maintain good situational awareness. The results were not as clear for the middle trust scoring pilots and suggests that trust and situational awareness are not as related. The need for monitoring situational awareness is discussed and the use of a simple and rapid ground based trust score may indicate which students would most benefit from improving their situational awareness would be the middle scorers on a trust scale. The simplicity of this approach to identifying those in need of improving situational awareness and the successful prediction of high trusting pilots and good situational awareness, suggests that a better trust scale, one geared specifically for general aviation, would be useful.

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Aviation Commons