Abstract

The focus of this study is on the practice of incident reporting systems in the aviation industry. Using qualitative methods including Grounded Theory Analysis of semi-structured interviews I compiled and related the emic perspective of commercial air transport pilots at a cross-section of air transport companies in Sweden. The results of this study demonstrate that the different components of an incident reporting system are interdependent – in particular, issues related to the solicitation of reports cannot be isolated from the outcome and purpose of the reporting system, and the feedback of this information to potential system users. The course of this research illuminated some complex peripheral issues including the influence of national culture on the application of these types of organisational safety initiatives, the difficulty in defining ‘incident’ given the subjective nature of what is ‘unsafe’, and the importance of broadening checks to the management of the gap between practice and theory. This report provides a framework and several hypotheses which could be useful for future development of the theory and nature of incident reporting and as practical considerations for incident reporting system administrators.