Exploring the Role of Culture in Helicopter Accidents

Helen Hephzibah Omole, Guy H Walker, Gina Netto

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Despite making up only 12% of the total worldwide aviation fleet, helicopters account for 70% of accidents (General Aviation Manufacturer Association [GAMA], 2010). While the worldwide airline safety trend is improving, helicopter accident safety trends are not (IHST, 2012). Research shows that human error is implicated in around 70%–80% of aviation accidents (Yacavone, 1993; O’Hare et al., 1994; Sarter and Alexandar, 2000; Wiegmann and Shappell, 2001; Wiegmann and Shappell, 2003) and an important modifier of human behavior is the culture in which it takes place. Culture has been the topic of considerable previous study, especially in aviation domains (Helmreich, 1994; Orasanu et al., 1997; Soeters and Boer, 2000; Meshkati, 2002; and others). It has been studied at the level of organizations (Merrit and Helmreich, 1998), in maintenance activities (Soeters and Boer, 2000), design and manufacturing (Foushee, 1984), and pilots (Merrit and Helmreich, 1996a,b; Li et al. 2007; Strauch, 2010). Despite this, culture is still not a prominent component of accidentanalysis methods and neither is it studied in an integrated fashion across different layers of the system (Merrit and Helmreich, 1998). The aim of this chapter is fourfold. First, it is to link the extant knowledge-base on culture to the specific problem of helicopter safety and accident analysis. Second, to use this knowledge-base to propose a cultural framework linking elements of systems to features of culture and ultimately to human actions. Third, to perform a content analysis on real helicopter accident reports from two culturally distinct regions of the world to reveal the cultural factors actually in play. Fourth, to relate the discovered cultural factors back to the original framework in order to validate the components within it and their structure. The ultimate aim is to use this exercise to reveal the extent of the gap in current accident analysis approaches and provide a concrete
way to gain traction on it.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHuman Factors in Transportation
Subtitle of host publicationSocial and Technological Evolution Across Maritime, Road, Rail, and Aviation Domains
EditorsG. Di Bucchianico, A. Vallicelli, N. A. Stanton, S. J. Landry
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781498726207
ISBN (Print)9781498726177
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NameIndustrial and Systems Engineering Series
PublisherCRC Press


Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring the Role of Culture in Helicopter Accidents'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this