Date of Award


Access Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Aviation


Doctoral Studies

Committee Chair

Alan J. Stolzer, Ph.D.

First Committee Member

Dothang Truong, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Michael O'Toole, Ph.D.

Third Committee Member

Benjamin J. Goodheart, Ph.D.


This dissertation investigated the effects of safety culture and ethical leadership on safety performance in Fractional jet pilots in the United States. The primary objective was to develop a well-fitted model linking these constructs. A composite survey instrument was developed from instruments previously validated in the literature.

There were 305 complete and valid responses from Fractional pilots. The hypothesized factor structure consisted of seven factors. The exogenous factor of safety culture was made up of four sub-factors. The endogenous factors included ethical leadership, pilot commitment, and safety performance. Safety performance was a second order factor consisting of errors and attitudes to violations. The hypothesized model was not well fit for the data; therefore, an exploratory factor analysis was conducted. The new model consisted of three factors: safety culture new, ethical leadership new, and not following procedures.

A structural equation model was developed to test the relationships between constructs. Safety culture new demonstrated a strong and significant positive effect on ethical leadership new. Safety culture new, unexpectedly, did not have a significant negative relationship with not following procedures. Additionally, ethical leadership new did not have a significant negative effect on not following procedures. These findings conflicted with previous studies in the literature that confirmed a significant relationship between both safety culture and ethical leadership with safety behavior. The main finding illuminates the influence of safety culture new on ethical leadership new. Additional findings showed the factor structure for most of the previously validated survey instruments was not maintained in this study with the Fractional pilot data.