Dr Kevin McMurtrie

Dr Kevin McMurtrie

Casual Academic
  1. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - Research (University of New South Wales)
  2. Master of Aviation Management (MAvMgmt) - University of Newcastle
  3. Air Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) - Issued by Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Australia
  4. Multi-Engine Aeroplane Class Rating (MEA) - Issued by Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Australia
  5. Instrument Rating (IR) - Issued by Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Australia
  6. Flight Instructor Rating Grade 1 (FI1) - Issued by Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Australia
  7. Flight Examiner Rating (FER) - Issued by Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Australia
School of Aviation

My career has spanned twenty-eight years of working in commercial aviation as a pilot in air transport operations and flight training, I hold an Air Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL), Instrument Rating, Grade 1 Flight Instructor Rating and Flight Examiner Rating, I have over 7000 hours of flying experience. In the year 2000 I became the Head of Flight Operations of a flight training college that specialises in airline cadet pilot training, primarily for airlines based in the East-Asia region. In 2021 I joined the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) of Australia. My role at CASA is with the Operations Implementation Branch, as a Senior Flying Operations Inspector, which involves a mix of flying, regulatory and safety oversight functions. 

I hold a Doctor of Philosophy, awarded at the University of New South Wales in 2021, and a Master of Aviation Management degree, awarded at the University of Newcastle (Australia) in 2009. I have a strong interest in research, with my central area of research at the University of NSW being flight crew safety reporting behaviours and confidence and trust in the construct of 'Just Culture'.

I was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS), London, in 2021, and I am an active member of the Australian Aviation Psychology Association (AAvPA), the European Association of Aviation Psychology (EAAP), and the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF).

I live in Brisbane, and also my hometown of Port Macquarie, Australia. My interests are: aviation safety research, all aspects of aviation, my dog (he is a 4-year old Whippet, named Floyd) and travel.

  • Journal articles | 2021
    McMurtrie KJ; Molesworth BRC, 2021, 'The Impact of a Legally Defined Just Culture on Voluntary Reporting of Safety Information', Aviation Psychology and Applied Human Factors, 11, pp. 88 - 97, http://dx.doi.org/10.1027/2192-0923/a000215
    Journal articles | 2018
    McMurtrie K; Molesworth B, 2018, 'Australian flight crews’ trust in voluntary reporting systems and Just Culture policies.', Aviation Psychology and Applied Human Factors, 8, pp. 11 - 21, http://dx.doi.org/10.1027/2192-0923/a000131.
    Journal articles | 2018
    McMurtrie KJ; Molesworth BRC, 2018, 'Australian Flight Crews’ Trust in Voluntary Reporting Systems and Just Culture Policies', Aviation Psychology and Applied Human Factors, 8, pp. 11 - 21, http://dx.doi.org/10.1027/2192-0923/a000131
    Journal articles | 2018
    McMurtrie KJ; Molesworth BRC, 2018, 'The Variability in Risk Assessment Between Flight Crew', International Journal of Aerospace Psychology, 27, pp. 65 - 78, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/24721840.2017.1400387
  • Conference Papers | 2022
    McMurtrie KJ; Molesworth BRC, 2022, 'Confidence and Trust in the 'Just Culture' Construct', in Transportation Research Procedia, Elsevier, pp. 214 - 225, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.trpro.2022.12.022

2020 - The UNSW and Western Sydney Airport Higher Degree Research (HDR) Prize for the best awarded PhD thesis

Present Research - September 2022

My current research aims to explore societal expectations towards culpability appraisal and sanction beliefs against individuals who make error in a safety-critical context. The study will attempt to examine if national culture has any influence on those expectations and beliefs. In my previous research on influences on flight crew reporting behaviour, I suggested that the effectiveness of the just culture construct should be examined in a range of cultural settings. The results of the research raised the question of what could be regarded as ‘unjust’ treatment towards an error-making individual in one culture, could be considered as ‘just’ and expected treatment in another. Therefore, this raises additional questions about a just culture and the possibility of ethnocentric biases, as a just culture is predominantly a ‘western-world’ construct, and may not be readily adopted in all cultural settings. The study sets out to examine if differences exist in culpability appraisal and expectations of appropriate sanction against individuals who have made errors that result in a decrease of safety. The study will examine and make a comparison between participants from two different national cultural groups, members of Australian and Chinese societies.

A qualitative research design has been employed constituting two participant groups representative of Australian and Chinese society. The material and measures comprise of an online questionnaire of self-construal items, and a responsibility appraisal and sanctions function questionnaire consisting of four incident scenarios and associated questions designed to examine the specific areas of investigation. The questionnaire consists of two sections.

Section 1 of the questionnaire contains twenty-four Self-Construal Scale (SCS) items. The SCS is a two-dimensional scale measuring individualistic and collectivist characteristics of each participant group (i.e., national culture characteristics).

Section 2 of the questionnaire incorporates four scenarios that involve a human operator involved in an error situation resulting in injury of varying degrees of severity to other persons. The scenarios are contextualised to represent settings of reasonable familiarity to the participants (e.g., as a passenger on a commercial airliner). The scenario-based questions are designed to measure if any differences exist between the two participant groups with the variables of responsibility appraisal, and the assignment of, and severity of sanctions. A context manipulation is made to each scenario to investigate if variation in human operator behaviour influences the strength of participant responsibility appraisals and assignment of sanction.

Two versions of the questionnaire are utilised, one version written in English language, and the second version translated to simplified Chinese language for the participants located in China.

The research is currently at the participant response (data capture) stage.

Previous Research 2014 - 2021

The focus of my first research project was on safety culture, and specifically, voluntary reporting attitudes and behaviours of safety information by commercial flight crew, and their willingness to disclose such information through their airline’s Safety Management System (SMS). The research examined trust and confidence by pilots in the construct of a ‘Just Culture’ that errors reported will not result in blame or sanction against them. The research specifically examined the extent to which the pilots were confident in reporting safety information, and how this translated into their reporting behaviours. Four main research areas were examined:

  1. Investigate whether flight crew trust and have confidence in the concept of a just culture.
  2. Examine reporting attitudes and behaviours and the level of non-reporting.
  3. Identify the reasons why flight crew elect not to report safety information.
  4. Understand the origins and foundation of the reasons flight crew fail to report safety information.

The research utilised a mixed methods design of quantitative and qualitative measures which involved a series of four studies. Studies 1 and 2 utilised an online questionnaire involving 809 pilot participants, and was designed to investigate:

  1. Situational risk assessments and resulting reporting attitudes.
  2. Confidence and trust in just culture and resulting reporting behaviours.

Studies 3 and 4 were developed on the findings of the first two studies and utilised structured interviews involving 85 pilot participants, and was designed to investigate:

  1. The origins/foundations of fear of reprisal from reporting and other barriers and enablers to reporting
  2. If the pilot participants had experienced reprisal from reporting safety information, and the type of reprisal.

For a full description of the research (methods, results, discussion, conclusions) you can access here.