An important human factors research interest area is error reduction. Although pilots placed in highly stressful situations have an increased chance of making errors, they use coping skills to lower their stress level and reduce the likelihood of errors. Typically, coping skills are conceptually separated into three different types: active coping skills which attack and change the situation to make it inherently less stressful, emotionfocused coping skills which use discussion or thinking about the situation in a different way to diminish the negative emotional reaction associated with the stressful situation, and avoidant coping skills which allow one to mentally and/or physically disengage through the use of daydreams, sleep, drugs, and/or alcohol. In this research project, a sample of 49 inexperienced private pilots and 30 experienced multi-engine commercial pilots were surveyed to determine if significant differences existed between their levels of perceived stress and the frequency with which they used different types of coping skills using a one-time, written survey. Variables measured included demographic information, factors of personality, frequency of binge drinking, perceived level of stress, and coping skills usage. The results showed that there was an association between experience level and stress (F = 5.46, p = .022), emotional coping, (r = .200, p = .078) and instrumental coping (r = .201, p = .075). There was also an association between stress and self-blame (r = .273, p = .015), humor (r = -.214, p = .059), positive reframing (r = -.204, p = .071), and the frequency of binge drinking (-.200, p = .078).


pilots, coping, stress, civil aviation, collegiate aviaation, binge drinking

Date of this Version



Aviation Technology

Department Head

Dr. Brent Bowen

Month of Graduation


Year of Graduation



Master of Science

Head of Graduate Program

Dr. Richard Fanjoy

Advisor 1 or Chair of Committee

John P. Young

Committee Member 1

Richard Fanjoy

Committee Member 2

Donald Petrin