Organizational Culture Impact on Safety Within a Collegiate-Level Flight Training Program

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Fiona Silcox
Stephen Ley
Daniel Sutliff


The purpose of the research is to identify recommendations involving best practices to improve safety performance and culture within the Utah Valley University (UVU) School of Aviation Science's flight training operations.  UVU flight department personnel have observed that there is underreporting of issues involving safety within the functions of maintenance and flight operations.  There is concern that an insufficient level of understanding exists related to the impact that safety culture has on overall safety performance.  To mitigate risk and achieve the school's goals for overall safety and operational excellence, the research was undertaken to determine: 1) how safety culture impacts flight operations and, 2) what actions can be taken to improve overall safety performance.  Participants in the internal study included UVU Flight Operations staff, leadership, students, and maintenance technicians.  The research included the following elements: 1) an investigation of collegiate aviation accidents and incidents to determine patterns and linkages to the research topic, 2) organizational culture impact on safety across various industries, 3) Safety culture survey, and 4) Analysis of resources and processes associated with safety programs, best practices, and standards including SMS (Safety Management Systems). Through the study, it was determined that safety culture is essential to effective safety program deployment. Key elements included effective communication and relationships between functional roles, professionalism, training and deployment of training, improved safety procedure documentation, and awareness. It is recommended additional research into the impact organizational behaviors have on safety culture and overall safety program effectiveness be pursued. Also, it is recommended that characteristics of safety culture and processes in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) accident and incident reports.  

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