Date of Award

5-2020

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Aviation

Department

College of Aviation

Committee Chair

Scott R. Winter, Ph.D.

First Committee Member

David S. Cross, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

John M. Robbins, Ph.D.

Third Committee Member

Rian Mehta, Ph.D.

Abstract

As city populations grow, the transportation industry plans to alleviate traffic congestion by introducing the urban air mobility (UAM) concept, in which small passenger and cargo aircraft augment metropolitan transportation networks. A key component of UAM is that of air taxis, which are on-demand air services for individuals and small groups. In addition, UAM companies are designing the aircraft to operate fully autonomously: The intent is for the vehicles to arrive and transport people from point to point without input from human pilots.

In studies of passengers’ perceptions, researchers found that safety was among the top passenger concerns. The international market complicates the matter, as research indicates people from different nations differ in their willingness to fly in autonomous aircraft. Past research hypothesized that individuals’ cultural orientation, specifically their degree of individualism or communalism, was a factor of the differences in willingness to fly.

A quantitative survey experiment in two studies was conducted to investigate willingness to fly in autonomous air taxis among people from the United States and India. The first study used a 2 x 2 x 2 factorial analysis to test the effects of nationality, automatic airframe parachute availability, and remote pilot system availability on willingness to fly. People from India were more willing to fly than people from the United States, and people in general were more willing to fly in an aircraft equipped with an automatic airframe parachute. The second study replicated the effects of the first and tested whether two aspects of cultural orientation mediated the relationship between safety system availability and willingness to fly. Cultural orientation was not found to significantly mediate the relationship among people from the United States or India.

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