Delivering a Quality Future for Aviation

Aviation Safety Alliance


This research-focused organization aims to enhance flight deck safety and strengthen organizational safety culture through a cognitive scientific approach to Human Factors training. We utilize a data-driven approach to diversity, equity and inclusion using empirical evidence derived directly from the aviation and aerospace industry to guide workforce development strategies. This research is being conducted by Kimberly Perkins through a doctoral program at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA, USA.

Kimberly Perkins

Kimberly Perkins is a Captain, writer, researcher and Ph.D. student at the University of Washington.

Kimberly’s doctoral research is unique as it examines existing safety structures, such a Crew Resource Management (CRM) and Safety Management Systems (SMS), with a cognitive scientific lens to analyze areas of improvement by deconstructing Human Factors to a more granular level.

There is a gap in aviation safety systems. Despite technological advancements, the concept of ‘human error’ remains the most cited cause of aviation accidents. In many regards, pilots are trained as if they are machines – in an emergency, we are trained to react both mentally and physically without conscious processing. In emergencies or high-stress situations that do require conscious processing, we’ve adopted the Crew Resource Management (CRM) model to utilize all available information to maximize safety and efficiency. Along with CRM, pilots have Aeronautical Decision Making (ADM) and Threat and Error Management (TEM) in their Human Factors toolbox. Decade after decade we saw a new aviation safety process emerge as some extension of or augmentation to the previous model.

This linear growth is insufficient. These safety systems make an assumption on the flight deck and organizational safety culture. How effective can Crew Resource Management be when a crew member does not feel psychologically safe to speak up? How effective is your Safety Management System when employees don’t trust that a just culture exists? The industry has made great strides in human-automation interface, yet we have not delved into the ramifications of how unconscious bias affects the sociotechnical system in the cockpit (crew working with each other and with the automation). My research will specifically address this gap and offer potential interventions to mitigate these biases and improve the organizational safety culture and the safety culture within the flight deck.