CRM And Aviation Safety Crew Resource Management And Aviation Safety

CRM And Aviation Safety Crew Resource Management And Aviation Safety

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. 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 countless 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. 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.

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,

Airline Industry By: Ron General Environmental Analysis The airline industry is very stable and unlikely to change in the near future. There are many reasons for this. Air travel continues to grow and will continue in this fashion as long as the economy stays in an upward trend. US domestic air traffic grew 2.3% in 1998 and 3.5% in the first six months of 1999 according to Air Transportation Association. The percentage of flyers has increased an average of 2% each year and the percentage of people who have ever flown before increased from 73% in 1993 to 81% in 1997. (Airport Transport Association, Internet). The top three reasons that people fly are business trips (47%), visiting relatives (38%) and going on vacation (13%). Most airline revenues are gained from the fares they charge these passengers, but they also earn ancillary revenues from transporting mail, shipping freight, selling in-flight services and from serving alcoholic beverages (Airport Transportation Association, Internet). The primary target market of airline passengers today is the business traveler because business trips account for the majority (47% ) of airline flights. Though this percentage of business trips is slowly declining, the actual number of business travelers is increasing. The business traveler fits the description of the average airline passenger of being male, between the ages of 35 and 54, having a household of $60,000 or more and lives in the western region of the country (Airport Transportation Association, Internet). The business traveler tends to be very price inelastic in terms of plane fares and as a result, airlines provide benefits to them such as priority check-in, expedited baggage handling, frequent flier miles and in-flight cell phones to business people to entice them to fly with their carrier. The other segment of the airline market is that of leisure travelers. These passengers tend to be extremely price sensitive which is exactly opposite the business traveler. As a result, airlines must find ways to beat competitors in terms of prices. Because the leisure traveler is not loyal to any one carrier, price becomes the determining factor in deciding which carrier to fly on. Again just opposite of the business traveler, the number of leisure fliers has decreased while the number of trips has increased. While the industry seems to be doing extremely well as a whole, there have been recent problems that may continue to effect the industry in the future. The recent jump in gas prices will undoubtedly affect the industry on both the customer and corporate levels. Consumers are already feeling the punch with increases in ticket prices. This could ultimately cause the number of fliers to fall, and in turn reducing profits immensely. On the corporate level, managers are faced with the decision to raise ticket prices and risk loosing significant profit or keeping prices steady and as a result gain customers who would otherwise fly with a competitor, but have their profits decrease temporarily. Also of recent concern is the issue of safety of airlines both as a whole and on an individual basis. The recent crashes have caused safety standards to be increased across the board and are affecting profits for several reasons. Consumers are becoming increasingly skeptical and may refuse to fly if the number of incidences increases. Increased safety checks and requirements are very expensive and will cause ticket prices to increase leaving consumers other options of transportation. Porter’s Five Forces Barriers to entry- • reputation of present competitors • large capital requirements to start • expensive raw materials • potential counter attacks of stable competitors to force new airlines out of the market • potential for alliances and mergers to become very powerful • increasing gas prices Exit barriers- • high exit costs • too much invested to cease operations • inability to use materials for something else Bargaining Power of Suppliers- The bargaining power of suppliers is relatively low because there are not many airplane manufacturers and they all are very similar in product quality. Mergers such as Boeing and McDonnell-Douglas allow such companies to gain a slight degree of power because they create many opportunities for market domination. The increase in capital and reputation of the involved companies says a lot to potential buyers of their carriers. Bargaining Power of Buyers- The bargaining power of buyers is also relatively low. They do not have many suppliers o choose from and none of them are of any higher quality on average than another. There are also so many planes that have been produced that buyers have the option to buy used planes and save on production costs of new ones. Buyers are also unable to buy in volume and planes are a standardized product so there is no chance of product diversification leading to an airline choosing one over another. Threat of Substitutes- There is a great amount of threat of substitutes in the airline industry. With so many different carriers, one becoming an outright leader, especially a new entering firm, is almost unforeseeable. Consumers are more likely to fly on carriers that have been around for along time and that have a good reputation. A new firm will struggle to gain these things for many years and may be overtaken by the larger more established firms rather easily. Also, with the existence of price wars, it is very difficult for new firms to compete without a significant capital base, leading to easy substitution of services buy competitors. Current Developments in the Airline Industry New Innovations The airline industry has many new innovations that will help individual carriers to gain a competitive advantage, even if only temporary. The change from booking travel arrangements through a travel agent to booking arrangements electronically or on the Internet will undoubtedly change the industry. This change will require less travel agents and promote more competition among carriers. United Airlines for example, has created a service for people who visit their web site. Not only can they book flights on United, but on over 500 other airlines as well (Competition Bulletin, Internet). United Connection, as it is called, is likely to be imitated by other airlines and because of this may only be a temporary competitive advantage at this point in time. The idea of third tier on-line travel agents such as Microsoft’s Expedia and Preview Travel allow travelers to choose flights at reduced prices. Currently, on-line travel is the most frequently used e-commerce medium on the Internet with revenues of $274 million, or 1% of the ticket booking market. This is estimated to increase to 6 to 9 billion by 2002. (US Business Reporter, Internet). Online services such as these result in intense competition in the industry. Because sales from the airline directly are reduced by such methods, carriers are faced with the problem of finding other profit producing measures. Another new innovation is that of “ticketless travel”. The idea was originated by Air Tran (Value jet) as a way to cut costs and provide faster service for customers. The passenger is able to pick up boarding passes at the check-in counter or can have one printed through automated dispensing machines. The e-tickets are then activated with a credit card or frequent flyer card. E-tickets will save a lot of time and could likely separate the top airlines from the lesser ones if the idea catches on because airline passengers are drawn to services that speed up travel time. Consumers may quickly become more price sensitive in the near future with companies such as Sabre and These outfits allow consumers to pick their price and are automatically booked if their price is matched. As a result, airlines may be forced to match these prices in order to stay competitive and make profits. Major carriers are producing low-fare offshoots such as US Airways Metro Jet and Delta’s Delta Express. These carriers travel more frequently and usually cost a good deal less than the larger carriers. International low-fare carriers are expected to enter the US as well which should increase competition for carriers such as these. These new services have been very successful in attracting travelers, especially business travelers who are very sensitive to time constraints. Some critics, however, feel that these off-shoots are simply defensive measures rather than profit centers- only time will tell. Formation of Key Strategic Alliances The formation of alliances in the airline industry have helped both consumers and the airline industry immensely. According to James Goodwin, the CEO of United Airlines, various alliances have contributed around $200 million in additional revenues and cost savings. One of the most successful contributors to the additional revenues is the Star Alliance, of which Goodwin is a part of (Mooreman p.2). United Airlines, Luftsana, SAS, Air Canada and Thai Airways comprise the Star Alliance. This alliance is revolved around domestic carriers teaming with international carriers to gain an entry point into a new market. Included in this alliance is “code-sharing” which should provide a competitive advantage for alliance partners. Code-sharing makes it possible to book a passenger on one airline that allows them to fly on the other airline as well. In addition, a combination of benefits from frequent flyer programs will be available to consumers. Four of the world’s leading airlines have merged and are now known as Skyteam. Those involved are Aeromexico, Air france, Delta and Korean Air. This alliance is based on the premis that a competitive edge is gained in the airline industry by focusing on customers. This alliance caters to customer needs and demands and develops routes and flights accordingly (Transportation and Distribution p.1). It is the first of its kind and should prove advantageous. In the process of teaming up is Northwest and American airlines, the number 2 and 4 carriers in the industry. If it happens, American would acquire Northwest and as a result, American would complete the alignment of all four carriers in the oneworld alliance that it and British Air anchor (Carey p.1) There are still talks going on in relation to the possible merger and no one really knows for sure what the outcome will be. Implications for the airline industry Our group recommends that those firms presently in the airline industry aim to provide high quality services at the lowest possible price. In order to successfully reach all aspects of the consumer market, firms need to fully understand their customers needs. Providing flight packages to satisfy both the business traveler and the leisure traveler market segments will greatly help each firm. We also feel that consumers desire quick and effortless travel from purchasing tickets to the actual travel time on the plane. As a result, firms should aim to provide the quickest and most simple way to travel. Attractiveness of the Industry The airline industry is not very attractive to a firm looking to enter the market. There are many reasons for this. First, there are many established carriers that have worked extremely hard to be successful and are not tolerant of new threats that may make them less so and will attack new firms to remain at the top. Second, it would take a great deal of capital to start a new airline firm. And third, entry as well as exit costs are extremely high and to risk putting so much money into something only to risk having it not succeed is a consideration that should not be taken lightly. Another important issue is that the airline industry seems to be very niche oriented. Airlines enter the market most often in areas that had been previously uninhabited by other airlines. Many seem to be focused on either west coast or east coast for example and do not enter other areas. Finding an area, at least in the US, that does not already have a significant amount of airlines in it is difficult. Key Success Factors of Winners Vs. Losers What determines the winners from the losers in the airline industry is difficult to tell. Advanced technological innovations will be one of the most important aspects of maintaining a prominent position in the industry. Mergers and alliances are also very powerful because of the synergy of two different airlines produce when combined. Also, the winners in the airline industry will understand their customers needs and cater to their needs whether they are business travelers or leisure travelers. Increasing benefits to both markets will only help an individual carrier to separate itself from the others. Recommendations of where the industry will be in 2001 The airline industry will undoubtedly expand and become increasingly more competitive in the next year. The likelihood of new airlines is slim but possible mergers are not. Companies become very powerful when joined with eachother and in the airline industry is no different. We look to see technologies that will facilitate both purchasing tickets and flying in general to increase and become more prominent as consumers become more sensitive to time constraints. Safety issues will receive a great deal of attention and standards will continue to increase. Price wars will become more intense and enable certain carriers to separate themselves from the competition by finding a way to provide quality at a lower price. How to Position a Firm Successfully in the Airline Industry A firm should first decide which niche they are to be a part of to be successful in the airline industry. A successful firm will likely enter an area with little competition, such as Alaska did on the west coast. Granted some carriers fly all over the world, gaining a foothold in a smaller niche is the smart way to go. A firm may also consider looking into a merger or alliance to strengthen their position in the industry. Putting the best of two companies together could be a definite bonus in the future with the likelihood of intense competition becoming a major factor. Developing a technique or technology that is not currently used by another airline and using it through a larger airline may be a smart move. Some amount of capital should be devoted to improving technology because it is, in a sense, the power of the future.



Air Transport Association. “Air travel Survey.” Online. Internet. 12 Nov. 2000. Available: Carey, Susan “AMR, Northwest talks turn serious as pressure rises for decision on merger”. Wall Street Journal. July 12, 2000. Competition Bulletin 8. Online. Internet. 9 Nov.2000. Available: “Four leading airlines launch global alliance,”Transportation and Distribution, Cleveland, OH, August 2000. Mooreman, Robert W. “United turns to academics to show alliances aid consumers.” Aviation Week and Space Technology. New York. Oct.2,2000. Travel Agent. “Forecast for the Future: Airlines.” Online. Internet. 12 Nov.2000. Available: US Business Reporter. “Airline Industry Profile.” Online. Internet. 12 Nov. 2000. Available: