Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Aviation - Applied Aviation Safety



First Advisor

Stephen Rice

Second Advisor

Scott Winter

Third Advisor

Lisa Perdigao


Trust is integral in any service industry, especially in the consumeroriented field of aviation. The first step of this research is the reorganization of the importance of trust. To understand its importance on the industry, it is necessary to study trust and its effects in depth. The purpose of this study is to further explore the relationship between the passengers’ trust in automation, and trust in humans. Oftentimes, when automation fails, some human is responsible for harboring the blame. The theory of System Wide Trust (SWT) has only been recently developed, but its effect on the field of aviation is proving to be noteworthy. SWT theory predicts that an item will experience a decrease in trust due to a decrease in reliability of an unrelated item within the system. SWT theory therefore predicts merging of trust levels of independent components. SWT has the potential to be explored in several areas of aviation, and the full reach of the effect is still unknown. An area that has yet to be focused on is whether the effect is strong enough to have a contagion effect from the automation platform to the human entities in the system. This study seeks to determine if a contagion effect

from automation to human entity of a commercial flight system exists. The study will present the participants with either a scenario in which an automated aid fails during a commercial flight or one where there is no failure of automation. The participants will then rate their levels of trust in different human entities of a commercial flight system. This will be conducted through two different surveys and two different groups of participants for each survey. This study will expand the understanding of SWT effect as well as human’s trust in the context of aviation.


Copyright held by author.