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Comparing pilot-error accident rates of male and female airline pilots


  • McFadden, K. L.


This study analyzes whether differences existed in the pilot-error accident rates of male and female United States airline pilots. Results are based on data of aviation accidents in the years 1986-1992, obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration. The study found that females employed by major airlines had significantly higher accident rates than their male counterparts overall. However, female airline pilots, on average, were less experienced and much younger than males. Male pilot-error accidents were modeled using logistic regression, regressing on age, experience (total flying hours), risk exposure (flying hours in the last 6 months), and employer (major/non-major airline). The male model provided a good fit for female airline pilots as well as for males. After adjusting for variables included in the model, accident rates of males and females were not significantly different. These findings suggest that neither males nor females are a safer pilot group. Airlines should make every effort to recruit and retain experienced females. The key challenge for managers of airline flight operations is to learn how to manage diversity in the workplace, while maintaining the highest level of safety.

Suggested Citation

  • McFadden, K. L., 1996. "Comparing pilot-error accident rates of male and female airline pilots," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 443-450, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jomega:v:24:y:1996:i:4:p:443-450

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Billie Jo Zirger & Modesto A. Maidique, 1990. "A Model of New Product Development: An Empirical Test," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 36(7), pages 867-883, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. McCarthy, Faye & Budd, Lucy & Ison, Stephen, 2015. "Gender on the flightdeck: Experiences of women commercial airline pilots in the UK," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 32-38.
    2. McFadden, Kathleen L & Towell, Elizabeth R, 1999. "Aviation human factors: a framework for the new millennium," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 177-184.
    3. Chang, Yu-Hern & Yeh, Chung-Hsing, 2004. "A new airline safety index," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 369-383, May.
    4. Hong, Seock-Jin & Lee, Kang-Seok & Seol, Eun-Suk & Young, Seth, 2016. "Safety perceptions of training pilots based on training institution and experience," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 213-221.
    5. Wang, Zuozheng & Hofer, Christian & Dresner, Martin E., 2013. "Financial condition, safety investment and accident propensity in the US airline industry: A structural analysis," Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 24-32.
    6. Hengel, E., 2017. "Publishing while Female. Are women held to higher standards? Evidence from peer review," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1753, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    7. Koufteros, Xenophon & Babbar, Sunil & Kaighobadi, Mehdi, 2009. "A paradigm for examining second-order factor models employing structural equation modeling," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(2), pages 633-652, August.


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