Last Updated 09 May 2021

Crew Resource Management

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One of the major problems encountered by an aviation company is plane crashes. Studies show that these instances were mostly caused by human errors. This human error can be accounted as, miscommunication of the crew members, and low in cognitive traits of the members like low-quality traits in teamwork, Because of the accidents that occurred on an aviation company, and they start to implement CRM techniques like effective communication within the aviation environment. The focus of the CRM program is to develop skills and positive traits on the members of the aviation industry.

This includes effective communication. Effective communication is a vital requirement for the aviation industry because the safety of the passengers live is their main concern. There is a need for ineffective communication on many instances like the landing and takeoff of the plane. Communication and coordination must be done properly to minimize accidents. The characteristics of information to provide effective communication needed in an aviation company must be clear, sufficient, precise and instructional. Prevent information that is vague, ambiguous, and in low volume to prevent confusion.

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Another major concern is the right time of transferring the information to the right specified receiver. Indeed CRM program has been a vehicle in minimizing accidents from human errors in an aviation company. Introduction Accidents can never be predicted if when it will happen but can be prevented. In our daily lives, we encounter accidents. An example of an accident is a plane crash. There are many reasons why plane crashes occur. One may be on the performance of the plane’s equipment and another is the problem in the member of the crew in a plane.

Because of the threats and accidents encountered by many aviation companies, they developed many safety precautions. One response to this dilemma was The Crew Resource Management (CRM) that was developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on 1979 was made to make air travel safer. CRM Due to the alarming accidents in the aviation industry like a plane crash, companies’ one response to this is by building a program that will strengthen the cognitive skills of the crew. John K Lauber, a psychologist, develops a program that will improve the group development and performance in aviation.

CRM focuses mainly on the behavioral aspect of the crew, not on the technical part of travel. Because NASA found that almost every accident cases on air travel is caused by human errors and not on the malfunction of the equipment or bad weather. The program is devoted in maximizing human performance. CRM centers on the development of skills in leadership, team management, decision making, effective communication, and situational awareness not only in the cockpit but also the other crew of an airline company.

Effective Communication

Communication is a part of the training imposed on a CRM program. Communication is considered the most important factor to be considered in this kind of program. A good and essential communication will be a vehicle for efficient crew management. Communication Errors Communication is a two process. Communication can be made only when the three integral parts are provided, the messenger, the message and the receiver. The flow of the message must be clear for an efficient communication will be achieved.

The role of the messenger is to transfer and transmit the message or information clearly to the receiver while the role of the receiver is to receive, and understand the message. The process is easy one but in some cases like the transfer of information in an aviation companies between the crews and the pilot is critical. The message must be transmitted clearly. If the information is not enough, vague and ambiguous there are many possible consequence to this action like plane crash. Ineffective communication had brought many accidents to an aviation company.

Studies had been conducted to these accidents to determine the major reasons why ineffective communication contributes to these occurrences. Studies showed that there were almost 150 aviation accidents. This number comprises 41 percent of the miscommunication between crew members from the total aviation accidents. The AF Safety Center, NASA, and the FAA had also conducted studies regarding to these incidences. From their database, almost 70 percent of the accident was caused by the poor transfer of information. 37 percent of the cases were caused by inefficient communication by the pilot due to low volume.

Some of the reasons why ineffective communication occurs are, not clear on the choice of words, the same call signs, vagueness, ambiguity, inference problems, and a host of other linguistic issues. Another factors to be considered on these occurrence is the transfer of information at the wrong time, the information was not received and on the problem on the equipment used in transmitting the information. (FORCE, 1998) The Air Traffic Control of America (ATC) analyzes the major causes of ineffective communication. Based on their analysis, there are 5 major causes of poor transfer of information.

  • Problems in attending, understanding and analyzing of information.
  • Deficient on proper acknowledgements.
  • Irrelevant transfer of information of the controllers and the outside environment.
  • Deficient transmittance of information to the controllers.
  • Deficient in confidence on the part of the controllers if situational problems arise
  • Severe self-confidence or contentment.

Plane Crashes Importance of Communication and Coordination

The center of attention of CRM is the effective transfer of information between the controllers, crews and pilots. The program gives importance to the efficient flow of information between the two parties so that human errors can be prevented and so the accidence on air travels. It is important for pilots, flight attendants and crew members to have a team unity in performing their corresponding duty. In kind of profession, they must work as a team even though they perform different duties. Communication and coordination is very important to efficiently perform their tasks. If a one member of the controller crew will do something, the action must be coordinated with the other member of the team.

A good and efficient coordination means an effective communication. The information must be transmitted very clearly so that miscommunication will be minimized.

Communication Pathways within Aviation Environment

Cockpit-To-Cabin Communication

In a Cockpit-To-Cabin Communication, almost all instances, effective communication is required. One is the takeoff and landing. It is very important for the flight attendant to prepare the cabin before and after takeoff and landing of the plane. These instances showed the highest rate of accidents.

A good example of effective communication is needed is when to instruct the passengers that take off or landing is imminent. In this situation, the passengers may prepare them selves for the takeoff and landing. The pilots in the cockpit must transfer this information to the flight attendants for the preparation with enough time for preparation. Right time of transferring the information is basic for effective communication. After this, the flight attendants must transfer the information that the cabin is now ready for takeoff or landing.

Another usual cause of accidents happening in an aviation company is turbulence. It is usually gained by the flight attendants. It is very essential for crew in the cockpit to give notification to a flight attendant that turbulence is approaching. Prior to the flight, the crew from the cockpit as well on the controller unit must inform the flight attendants in anticipating turbulence in their travel before their flight. Another instance when there is a need for the application of the techniques of CRM especially on the effective communication is the occurrence of unexpected turbulence.

The flight crew must not frighten to the situation as well as the crew in the cabin. The flight crew must transfer the information on what to be done by the flight attendants as clearly as possible in with the right time of transfer. The information may include the situation of the turbulence so that proper and appropriate actions must be done by the flight attendants to the cabin. In time of emergency where the cockpit crew can be anticipated, the cockpit crew must inform the flight attendants about this emergency. There were many accidents due to failure of accepting the right information in dealing with emergencies.

The information must be as clearly as possible, precise and concise, and must be instructional in nature. Self awareness is needed in this situation. Going to basic, the right time of the flow of information is needed. A good example of emergency situation that needs effective transfer of information from the cockpit crew to the cabin crew is when the pilots decide to land without a functional nose gear. The cockpit crew must transfer the information to the flight attendants about the emergency and what will be done by the flight attendants in their area of responsibility. There are certain methods to be done on this emergency.

The pilot must instruct the cabin crew to abandon the place of the passengers and to move to the rear of the plane. It is also vital in this kind of situation that the information coming from the cockpit crew be received by the right people, the flight attendants before the passengers to make necessary procedures. 2. Cabin-To-Cockpit Information Just as what discussed of the importance of a good and effective communication between the flows of information from the cockpit to the cabin crew, it is also to have an effective flow of information from the cabin crew to the cockpit crew.

The vital characteristics of the flow of information are also the same like the quality of the information and the right time of transfer. A sterile cockpit issue is one problem that usually arises in this flow of information because sterile cockpit is rules that must be understand by the crew member on the cabin. Studies from the accidents due to the miscommunication from the cabin crew going to the cockpit crew were divided into two categories. These were sterile cockpit time and sterile cockpit meaning. Sterile cockpit time is the period when sterile cockpit will be done.

Because flight attendants cannot estimate to when be 10, 000 feet below the grounds, there must be a efficient flow of information in this kind of situation. Sterile cockpit meaning is another problem concerning on sterile cockpit issues. Flight attendant does not even know the meaning of sterile cockpit and the implication of it. Surveys from different aviation companies showed that sterile cockpit must be clearly defined to the flight attendants because they are the main responsible in this kind of condition.

Along this information dissemination is the true meaning of sterile cockpit, and basic information like the standard operating procedures during this situation. Some problem that can be arise due to not knowing and understanding the said situation is when the flight attendants asked the flight crew about the sterile cockpit during an uninterrupted condition to the flight crew. The pilots that were interrupted will have bad effects on their performance. Another instance is when the flight attendants hesitate to ask what the vital procedures in dealing with the situation.

This instance is more dangerous than on the first one. It is very important the team work in the kind of profession. The cabin members must communicate well to the cockpit crew on what is happening to the cabin. Vital information like this must be transmitted to the cockpit as clearly as possible to minimize the chance of miscommunication. (Transportation, 1988) Norwegian Airline Company is one of the many companies that implements CRM program. The company realized the losses due to not anticipated accident in their company.

The company focused on the human resource of the plane and controller members. The company focuses on the significance effective transfer of information within the members. This is one of the major response of the company on t he causes of accidents. The said company followed the procedures of CRM training program. They train their crew members on effective communication as well as the other factors concerning in the improvement of the communication within the crew members like the application of new technologies and infrastructures. (Mjos, 2007)

Factors Affecting Effective Communication

  1. New Technology- technology is a prerequisite so that the flow of information will be effectively received by the receiver. The use of good and high technology apparatus will fuel on the purpose of the CRM. Many aviation companies now innovate to the technology to meet the needs on effective communication. One of the innovations is the application of internet to the information and communication system of a company. In this manner the flow of information is effectively transferred.
  2. New Infrastructure- new infrastructure is also needed for effective transfer of information. Improved and new structures like the old apparatus and materials used in transmitting must be replaced with new one because the efficiency of old infrastructure is less compared to a new one.
  3. Improved Training Method- even though training programs is being implemented to a aviation company, there must be always a checking procedure if the training on the members of the crew is being applied. Evaluation on the performance of the crew must be done constantly to monitor the performance of the crews. In this manner, if the training is not sufficient to meet the demands on minimizing human errors brought by ineffective communication, there is a need in improving the training program.
  4. Good Crew Selection- selecting the right person at the right job is a basic rule on business. Even on other industry, this rule is very vital because you select the people who will work for the success of the company. There must be a good collection and selection on human resource. The crew must possess the trait needed for a certain job or task. But the crew must possess the trait of responsible, well-disciplined, and situational awareness and others.


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