This question is related to:

Standard industry practices of cockpit management can invert or disrupt very deep cultural and political expectations of command and authority.

The question

What evidence is there, in research, incident reports or other documented sources, that has identified political attitudes around race, gender or social class as human factors in the cockpit?

For example:

With more women in airline cockpits, have new human factors emerged (for example, a male pilot displeased to be questioned by a woman)?

In regions with troubled racial histories (southern Africa, the USA) have race relations and attitudes in the cockpit been responsible for incidents?

In cultures where social class or even caste is very significant, have these been implicated as human factors in the cockpit?

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    $\begingroup$ Could that be answered factually? It seems to call for individual opinions and non representative events. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    May 27, 2016 at 13:38
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    $\begingroup$ @mins Possibly. Accident reports do list these sorts of things as contributing factors. $\endgroup$
    – fooot
    May 27, 2016 at 14:39
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    $\begingroup$ @fooot Even so, accident reports are, by nature, discussing non-representative events. That said, I don't recall any accident reports where race, gender, or social class made any difference... unless you count a GA accident report where the people in the front seats were of opposite gender and investigation of the crash scene indicated that they were engaged in activities other than flying the aircraft. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    May 27, 2016 at 15:47
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    $\begingroup$ How is this "opinion-based"? I'm not asking whether some random person has opinions about any of these things; I'm asking whether research has identified new human factors emerging, whether incident investigations have implicated race attitudes or relations in their reports; whether social class has been implicated in incident investigations. Whether or not this is the case fact. Even if you completely disagree with any such reports or research, it's still a fact that these factors were implicated (or not) in them. $\endgroup$ May 27, 2016 at 23:27
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    $\begingroup$ This question seems too broad. Possible more specific questions include "does gender play a role in the perceived importance of cockpit communication," "are lower class pilots less likely to challenge their partner's authority," "How many accidents have had race as a contributing factor," "What is being done to compensate for strong social class differences when implementing CRM" or even "how do they select the gender of aural annunciations." $\endgroup$
    – Cody P
    May 31, 2016 at 20:00

3 Answers 3


There are numerous accident reports that state cultural issues as contributing factors, especially respect for elders / superiours / social class in Asian countries leading to poor "Crew Resource Management" - typically the co-pilot failing to challenge the captain.

The first examples that come to mind are:

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    $\begingroup$ The Air China 129 wiki article does not mention social class as a factor. That might appear somewhere in the crash reports, though? They better link would be nice. $\endgroup$ Oct 3, 2023 at 13:10

As a aeronautics and space student, I can tell you that there are standards(especially US military standards) for the configuration of the cockpit.wethear the hight of the seat and the length of the arm( it is needed to know if the pilot can reach all devices without struggle). You are right, there are many different people with different body shapes and sizes. however, the aircraft manufacturers have standards and pilots who don't fit the standard have it a little bit difficult. Moreover, if you might notice military pilots are picked carefully to match the standard, since a pilot needs to fit in the best way to the plane so he will be focused on flight rather then comfot. To answer your question, there are no modifications special for race or gender, unless you build a customize plane.

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    $\begingroup$ You seem to have missed the point of the question, at no point does it ask about ergonomic standards, which is what your answer is about. The question is about social, cultural and political disagreements in the cockpit. $\endgroup$ Jan 14, 2019 at 8:49
  • $\begingroup$ I answered you both in the technical part of engineering. Since you are interested in the social part, there is racial and gender bias everywhere... So where there is bias the aviation company will have bias as well so it will hire according to that bias. $\endgroup$ Jan 14, 2019 at 9:22
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    $\begingroup$ I understand what you answered, the issue is that it does not answer the question as asked, and on this site we prefer answers that stick to what was asked, or at least address the actual question before going off on a tangent. $\endgroup$ Jan 14, 2019 at 10:22

Since the 1970’s, it appears that more republicans than democrats have been involved in fatal aircraft crashes that they are the pilot in. There is a partial list of political affiliation in aircraft crashes at the political graveyard: https://politicalgraveyard.com/death/aircraft.html

Recent crashes include GOP State Senator Doug Larsen, killed after stopping to refuel his plane. https://apnews.com/article/a7064a4f3a883be6f920fb647d10c6ca

There is no data comparing the number of Republican to Democrat pilots, so it is not currently possible to determine if political affiliation can be linked to deaths, but one can see that more (R) pilots seem to die than (D) pilots.

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    $\begingroup$ One has to account for proportion and age, though. Modern Republicans tend to be older on the average, and among the older ones, better-off than same-age Democrats. $\endgroup$
    – Therac
    Oct 2, 2023 at 21:14
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    $\begingroup$ The question is asking about evidence of this as a human factor in the cockpit. There is no evidence of any sort of causal factor here. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Oct 2, 2023 at 23:26
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    $\begingroup$ It would help if you would include actual numbers. I looked at the Political Graveyard link that you provided, it's pretty tedious going through each bio to find out if they are Democrat or Republic since it's buried in the text for each one. I started in 1972 through present and I counted 13 Democrats and 8 Republicans. Maybe I went through it too fast, what numbers did you come up with? Are you sure there is enough of a difference to see any kind of trend? $\endgroup$ Oct 3, 2023 at 0:47

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