Crew Resource Management, Crew Coordination, In Relation to Aircraft Accidents


In this paper you will learn how Crew Resource Management came into effect and the reasons behind the need of CRM to further prevent accidents from happening. I will discuss the Communication aspect of CRM, how Crew Coordination is a very important program for multi-crew cockpits, and should be taken very seriously. Finally, I will present some examples of what happens when a break down in CRM and Crew Coordination occurs, and how most often the result is disastrous.

Crew Resource Management

CRM is a process designed to aid in the prevention of aviation accidents and incidents by improving crew performance through a better understanding of human factor concepts. It involves the understanding of how crewmembers’ attitudes and behaviors impact safety. They identify the crew as a unit of training, and provide an opportunity for individuals and crews to examine their own behavior and make decisions on ways to improve teamwork.

The evolution of CRM came from investigations into air carrier mishaps. They show since 1970 that human error is a contributing factor in 60 to 80 percent of all incidents and accidents (National Civil Aviation Review Commission). Human error is the action, reaction, and decision of the individual. Their errors cause most accidents, not catastrophic failures of operating systems. Research has discovered that these events are attributed mostly to problems associated with poor group decision-making, ineffective communication, inadequate leadership, and poor task or resource management. In 1986, the assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) adopted a resolution on flight safety and human factors. It stated that in order to improve safety in aviation; operators must be made more aware and responsive to importance of human factors in aviation through proactive learning and from the reactions of others. As a result, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended implementing CRM training for all crewmembers.

CRM is but one practical application of Human Factors. Although CRM can be approached in many different ways, there are some essential features. The focus on the functioning of the flight crew as an intact team, not simply as a collection of technically competent individuals; and should provide opportunities for crew members to share their skills together in roles they normally perform in flight. CRM should teach crew members how to use their own personal and leadership styles in ways that foster crew effectiveness. It should also teach crew members that their behavior during normal, routine circumstances can have a powerful impact on how well the crew as a whole functions during high-workload and stressful situations. During critical emergency situations, basic skills and knowledge come into play, and it is unlikely that any crew member will be able to take the time to reflect upon his or her CRM training to determine how to act. Similar situations experienced in training increase the probability that a crew will handle actual stressful situations more competently.

With the new and ever advancing aircraft CRM is essential in the aviation world today. Now that you have a better understanding on how CRM works, let’s focus in on the communication aspect of CRM.

Crew Coordination

An analysis of aviation accidents revealed that a significant percentage of accidents resulted from one of more crew coordination errors committed before or during a flight. Often an accident was the result of a sequence of undetected crew errors that combined to produce a catastrophic result. Additional research showed that even when accidents are avoided, these same errors can result in degraded flight performance. Aircrew coordination is the interaction between crew members necessary for the efficient and effective performance of tasks.

There are eight elements (provided by the United States Army Crew Coordination program) to be used to achieve maximum performance of crew coordination.

1. Communicate Positively. Good cockpit teamwork requires positive communication among crew members. Communication is positive when the sender directs, announces, requests, or offers information; the receiver acknowledges the information; the sender confirms the information, based on the receiver’s acknowledgment or action. The receiver must anticipate what the sender says or wants and listen carefully. Either crew member must have no doubt what is said or meant prior to taking action.

2. Direct Assistance. A crew member will direct assistance when he cannot maintain