An analysis of the relationship of flight hours and naval rotary wing aviation mishaps
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This thesis research developed comparative analysis models to explore whether too many or too few flight hours affected the likelihood of a mishap. The objective was to determine whether the period of sequestration and the number of total flight hours affected the number of aircraft mishaps. Flying too much leads to higher levels of fatigue, but not flying enough could result in reduced levels of proficiency. Flights during a period of sequestration are subjected to reduced flight hour funding. Data for the research covers the period of peak military funding (fiscal year 2000–February 2013) to periods of sequestration (March 2013–September 2016). Additionally, controls for night flight and overwater were used in the model to allow for better estimates of the effects of flight hours on the likelihood of a mishap. The research uses individual and squadron-level, aggregate standardized daily, weekly, and monthly flight-hour data and employs a fixed-effects logit model. The research addressed errors and controls that could affect the outcome estimates. The model's individual estimates found enough evidence to support indicators used for sequestration, high flight hours, night flight, and overwater flight had statistically significant effects on the likelihood of a mishap at either the individual or squadron level. More research is suggested with modeling other aircraft platforms to better observe trends over time. The results provide policymakers with a better understanding of the relationship between the number of flight hours and its effect on mishaps. Policymakers can use that understanding to make more informed decisions about budgetary funding of naval aviation.
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