Publication Date

Fall 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Industrial and Systems Engineering


Kevin P. Jordan


Aviation, Human Factors, Skill Degredation, Skill Retention

Subject Areas

Aerospace engineering


The manual flight ability of commercial airline pilots has been scrutinized

after several aviation disasters in the first decade of the 21st century where pilot error has been a contributing cause. Voluntary pilot incident reports from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) were examined as one method to determine the prevalence of manual flight skill decline among airline pilots. The investigation studied reports from unstabilized approach to landings where the pilots manually controlled the aircraft during descent. An analysis of the ASRS reports from pilots flying traditional flight deck aircraft compared with pilots flying aircraft with advanced technology flight decks revealed no significant difference in unstabilized approaches. Two additional analyses comparing ASRS reports from regional air carriers versus major air carriers as well as international operations and domestic operations from major air carriers, determined no significant differences in unstabilized approaches. The research indicates that ASRS voluntary incident reports cannot determine significant differences in airline pilot manual flight control between different airline operation types or flight deck technologies.