An empirically derived taxonomy of pilot violation behavior

Dave English, Russell Branaghan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations


Violations occur when pilots deliberately break safety rules; they are a serious and vexing problem in aviation. Study one engaged cluster analysis, multidimensional scaling and Pathfinder network analysis on an experimentally derived similarity matrix of violation causes to discover the structure of violation reasoning. Using the insights so gained, a classification was constructed based on actor intent with four categories:. •Improvement. The intention is to increase safety or production, a desire to do better.•Malevolent. The intention is to cause harm or reduce production, a desire to do damage.•Indolent. The intention is to increase operator ease, a desire for lethargy.•Hedonic. The intention is to increase operator excitement, a desire for sensation.Study two tested the taxonomy for reliability by having aviation experts assign categories to six accident reports. The taxonomy was found to have a free-marginal multirater kappa of 0.82, which is considered excellent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-209
Number of pages11
JournalSafety Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2012



  • Human factors
  • Taxonomy
  • Violation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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