Stephen Birch


A general aviation industry segment member known as a Certified Non-scheduled Air Taxi Operator (CNATO) conducts passenger flights on-demand for hire. While airline accidents have reached historic lows, CNATO accident rates remain above one per 100,000 hours (NTSB, 2015b). Unlike airlines, the Federal Aviation Administration has not made safety management system implementation mandatory within CNATOs. As a result, there has been no decrease in CNATO organizational accidents over a 6-year period since 2009. Study goals strove to find a predictable method of variable identification influencing at-risk CNATOs. The study utilized a sequential transformative design comprising quantitative surveys and aviation accident databases to answer four research questions. Research questions used explanatory correlational methodology of independent and intervening variables examining descriptive, relational, and comparative results. Safety Culture Indicator Scale Measurement System (SCISMS) and Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) Form 5x served as survey instruments that gathered leadership and safety culture information. Accident data was obtained from government sources through the Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASAIS) database. An inclusion criterion, stratified random cluster, and systematic random sampling narrowed the entire 2,046 CNATO population to a sample size of 25 participants from three FAA flight standards regional offices. Each participant had 3-weeks to complete an online survey containing 106 questions. Twenty participants completed the survey. Data analysis followed a discriminant function analysis to develop quantitative correlations between multiple variables. Characteristics of each participant yielded no conclusive data to suggest CNATOs share common safety culture dimension dominance. Study results concluded there was no relationship between leadership style, safety culture dominance, and accident rates. A comparison of CNATOs using safety management systems and accident rates also showed no relationship exists. The final research question sought to find a relationship between leadership style, safety dimension, and accident rate. None was found, however, a statistical trend emerged outside the research questions as a result of sequential research design. Data indicated a relationship among transformational leadership characteristic scale and SCISMS mean score. While the study yielded seminal individual results, research questions proved safety culture remains difficult to define and found relationships to identify at-risk organizations remains elusive.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Air taxis -- Safety measures; Leadership

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Hamilton, Eric R.;