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Crew Resource Managament

Crew Resource Managament WARNING!!! This is for ERAU — Wildinger’s class. Don’t even *think* of using this in his class!!! -strong message follows- Crew Resource Management 1 Running Head: CRM AND AVIATION SAFETY Crew Resource Management and Aviation Safety Steven B. McSwain Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Crew Resource Management 2 Abstract Throughout the history of aviation, accidents have and will continue to occur. With the introduction of larger and more complex aircraft, the number of humans required to operate these complex machines has increased as well as, some say, the probability of human error. There are studies upon studies of aircraft accidents and incidents resulting from breakdowns in crew coordination and, more specifically, crew communication.

These topics are the driving force behind crew resource management. This paper will attempt to present the concept of crew resource management (CRM) and its impact on aviation safety in modern commercial and military aviation. The concept is not a new one, but is continually evolving and can even include non-human elements such as computer-controlled limitations on aircraft maneuvers and the conflicts that result in the airline industry. Crew Resource Management 3 Crew Resource Management and Aviation Safety Since the birth of aviation, man has been tasked with operating aircraft safely, yet effectively. From the beginning days of being able to simply operate an aircraft without injury for seconds at a time, to today’s issues with safety in supersonic international travel, crew resource management has been with us in some from the beginning. The term CRM began to spread in the 1980’s among the major airlines, fueled by industry and university research into human factors.

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The U.S. military has also taken a very active in the development of CRM techniques to aid in the high stress environment of military aviation. The basic concept of crew resource management (CRM) is to train crewmembers to use all available personnel, equipment, and experience to safely and effectively operate an aircraft. It is used in nearly every facet of aviation from the smallest regional airline, to the largest major carrier, to the various crew operated military aircraft. One aspect of aviation missing from the fold is the general aviation (GA) community, such as the private pilot.

This has become a growing concern as many future air carrier pilots and military pilots begin as private pilots. The need for CRM training in this area is there, but the training seems excessive and useless to many in the field as most of these pilots operate single pilot aircraft. Perhaps this attitude comes from the term crew and is dismissed by the private pilot. This can be a dangerous attitude, as there is no doubt that sound decision making and the use of available resources should be a priority at any level of aviation Terms and Concepts Used in Crew Resource Management In order to effectively explain the concept of CRM and its role in aviation safety, it is necessary to have at least a limited understanding of common terms and phrases. One of the two key elements of CRM is situational awareness, or, SA.

Simply put, it is the understanding of Crew Resource Management 4 the conditions surrounding your flight. Knowing what is happening, what has happened in the past and how that may affect your flight in the future. Situational awareness is probably best described as a conditioned state of mind while flying. It comes from experience and knowledge and can be blocked by being unfit to fly do to fatigue, for example. This concept is obviously a major consideration in flying all aircraft, but can be considered to be somewhat easier maintained in a crew aircraft than in a single pilot one. Another key concept in CRM is communication.

This is a topic best described in it’s own publication, as there are numerous factors that contribute to successful or failed communication. There are many factors to be considered when analyzing communication in the context of CRM, such as dialect. English is the universal air traffic language, yet it would be impossible to regulate accents and intelligibility of an air traffic controller or aircraft crew. This can obviously lead to missed communication between an American flight crew and Egyptian control facility, for example. Another aspect of the communication problem can be attributed to seniority in civilian aviation, or rank in military aviation.

This barrier, fear of communication, must be overcome in order for a flight to safely operate. Each crewmember should be able to make input to the flight without fear of reprimand. Each person should provide feedback and be willing to accept a suggestion from other crewmembers. The last subject I will cover in regard to communication is standardization. Procedures – checklists, operating instruction, and technical orders – are written in a standardized form to avoid confusion and establish a common language.

This usually results in a barrier of communication in more experienced crewmembers. They can be so accustomed to the operating procedures that they expect everyone else to have the same level of understanding. This, combined with their usage of nonstandard verbiage can lead to deadly miscommunication in a worst-case scenario. Crew Resource Management 5 A third commonly referred to concept in crew resource management is available resources. This can mean internal or external resources.

Internal resources are things such as experience and knowledge, and having one does not necessarily require having the other. A crewmember can be experienced but not have a great deal of aircraft systems knowledge. Such as when in the military, as often happens, a pilot is transferred late in his or her career to another aircraft. That pilot may have over five thousand hours of flying experience, and even several hundred hours of combat flying experience. However, when arriving at a new assignment they have a very limited amount of aircraft systems knowledge in the new aircraft. This is also true for a civilian air carrier pilot who changes aircraft at some point in their career.

External resources can consist of checklists or operating instructions, for example. This is an equally important factor in aviation safety, as can be seen by the report on the American Airlines crash in Columbia (Simmon, 1998). The failure to abide by these resources can have disastrous results. Many things can contribute to the breakdown in this area, most evident is fatigue combined with a high level of experience. An experienced captain can rely too much on knowledge and not enough on published procedure and guidance.

This summary of key concepts is not meant to be an all-inclusive list, but a brief familiarization of the terms and ideas commonly referred to in the subject of crew resource management. There are many other important factors, but I believe a basic understanding of these listed is required to gain an understanding in the basics of CRM. Impact of Crew Resource Management in Safety There are countles …


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