Crew Resource Managament

.. s case studies published by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) revealing CRM-related causes of accidents. One such example is the American Airlines Crew Resource Management 6 flight 965, a Boeing 757 that crashed into terrain while making an approach into a Columbian airport in 1995. The crew made several mistakes, including exhibiting get-there-it is, a condition in which the crew is determined to perform an act, whether it is departure or landing, due to fatigue or some other outside motivation. This lapse in judgment caused the death of all but four of the 163 passengers and crew on board.

This lead to compounding problems, such as missed and erroneous procedures. There were checklist items either omitted or improperly performed, as well as communication breakdowns with air traffic control (Simmon, 1998, p. 1-8). In this tragedy are multiple examples of breakdowns in crew resource management. All the tools necessary for a safe completion of the flight were there but the crew failed to utilize them.

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Another factor to be considered in the crew-operated aircraft is the authority gradient (Hawkins, 1987, p. 36). This is easily described as the who’s the boss? factor. The most ideal situation would be a captain or aircraft commander with a wealth of knowledge and experience combined with a first officer or copilot with somewhat less, working as a team. All too often, however, an overbearing or dominant captain is placed with a timid or unassertive first officer, or a highly experienced and equally assertive pilot in each seat. This can lead to a multitude of problems, as evident in the Tenerife accident.

In that case, the less confident first officer’s questions regarding takeoff clearance were totally dismissed by the command pilot. Although the example I gave was in regard to a major air carrier, it is easy to see how this could be a problem more present in the military aviation community. The military by nature is rank structured and can lead to an improper crew relationship in the aircraft. A perfect example is the crew of the USAF’s AC-130U gunship. With a tactical crew of at least thirteen, CRM is a very real issue in every day operations. AS a crewmember on this aircraft, I have seen countless examples of this process at it’s finest as well as it’s worst.

It does take training and experience for a senior officer acting as aircraft commander to take inputs and Crew Resource Management 7 recommendations from a brand new junior enlisted crewmember. Yet through an effective training regimen, the authority gradient can be groomed to its proper level. To be an effective crew, all crewmembers regardless of military or civilian must display the ability to lead and follow. The key to safe flight, and the driving force behind crew resource management training is problem solving. Civilian and military alike have simulators and training regimens to aid in the development of problem solving skills.

These training aides proved a solid base of information and procedure, and help to develop good problem solving techniques. However, the great Catch 22 of aviation is that good practical skills come from experience. This is where CRM takes it’s place in flight safety. It is up to the crew of an aircraft to help less experienced crewmembers to gain this experience when problems arise. This is where the factors of CRM I talked about earlier come into play.

The less experienced crewmember, though trained to standards and expected to perform all duties, will rely on communication and the more developed situational awareness of his or her crew to gain that experience. This cycle should repeat itself, continuing to provide new crewmembers with the experience and skills necessary for safe flight. CRM training has been put in place to overcome the barriers to this process in the crew environment. The only aspect of aviation that seems to be the exception is general aviation, as mentioned before. General aviation, or GA, is severely behind in the development of CRM training.

As a private pilot, I have noticed the absence of this training. After first being trained as a military crewmember, I noticed immediately the lack of CRM in any aspect of the training of the private pilot. Perhaps the reason I noticed this problem is the same reason many private pilots do not notice it. They have no experience, through no fault of their own, with the crew environment and it’s challenges and benefits. Though there is a small percentage of private pilots who will Crew Resource Management 8 never operate in the crew environment, the majority begin this training as a step to a career in aviation, or at least to the point of flying with other people.

Many are future small business pilots, many are future military pilots, and a few are future air carrier pilots. I personally used private pilot training to help prepare me for a career as a military pilot, but my situation was unique as I stated before. The development of CRM in GA is beginning to be addressed, but is years behind that of commercial and military aviation. This is evident by the lack of continuity and availability of literature on GA crew resource management training (Santiago, 1996). Conclusion Crew resource management training is no doubt a vital part of flight safety. The programs have developed from crude briefings to sophisticated simulators and training techniques.

The examples of the importance of this training can be found in almost every NTSB report of an incident involving the human factor of flight. I have attempted to bring to light the more important aspects of crew resource management, though the concept is much broader than I have presented. The basics of communication and problem solving are still the keys of CRM, and still seem to be the cause of most aviation accidents. The programs in effect to combat this problem are under constant development and analysis, in a hope to avoid these situations. The civilian industry continues to lead in development due to commercialization, with the military not far behind. The only real deficiency in CRM program development seems to be the area of general aviation as described earlier.

Until this problem is addressed, there will still be a glaring weakness in the general area of aviation safety. However, with the rate of technology increase and cheaper methods of instruction, we should begin to see this problem addressed in the near future. Until then, aviation will rely on civil commercial aviation the military to continue research and program development for the years to come, hopefully resulting in an increasingly safe method of travel and recreation. Bibliography Crew Resource Management 9 References Hawkins, Frank H. (1987). Human Factors in Flight, 2nd ed., 35, 36. Santiago, Marco Jr.

(1996). Application of Crew Resource Management and Line Oriented Flight Training Concepts to General Aviation Flight Training. Arizona State University. Simmon, David A. (1998).

Boeing 757 CFIT Accident at Cali, Columbia, Becomes Focus of Lessons Learned. Flight Safety Digest, Aviation Essays.