Date of Award

Spring 2008

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Human Factors & Systems


Human Factors and Systems

Committee Chair

Albert Boquet, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jonathan French, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Scott Shappell, Ph.D.


Approximately 75% of weather-related accidents result in fatalities and are a primary safety concern in aviation. This study attempted to understand how financial motivation and time investment influence the length of time pilots fly into degraded weather. The sunk-cost effect claims that financially motivated pilots would continue longer when weather is encountered late in the flight. The results revealed that the financially motivated pilots continued longer than the non-financially motivated pilots when weather was encountered early in the flight. These results support the situation assessment hypothesis and cognitive anchoring. Specifically, how pilots assess the situation and utilize information obtained before making a decision can influence their decisions. Further research is needed to understand this relationship to possibly reduce the number of weather-related accidents and associated fatalities.