Crew Resource mangement.. in my terms…
what is Crew Resource management? ( CRM ).
By the book, CRM has been defined as ” as a management system which makes optimum use of all available resources – equipment, procedures and people – to promote safety and enhance the efficiency of flight operations”. “CRM is concerned not so much with the technical knowledge and skills required to fly and operate an aircraft but rather with the cognitive and interpersonal skills needed to manage the flight within an organized aviation system.”
How I See it
My simple definition of CRM is: communication for safety and synergy. In my opinion, The course is basically pointing out the obvious to those who are in their own head, and do not always see the importance of team work nor does their behavior reflect it.
Since 1999 I have taken many CRM training courses mandated by the various companies I have flown for. The classes all varied a bit in structure. Some instructors were more technical and taught “by the book”, while others just focused on how it related to specifically our company and was more interactive. I have always believed that is was a great course to be taught in aviation, because so much can go wrong just with human error and miscommunication. However, I feel that crew are forced to take this course and then a couple of months later, resort back to their original behavior.
For example, “crew briefings” seem to be few and far between in my corporate flying experience. This is the time for a crew to set the tone for the whole trip and open the channels of communication. It also provides vital information so that every crew member is on the same page. This should also not be limited to the cockpit because as history has proven in some unfortunate accidents, the flight attendant also play a big role in passenger/ crew/ aircraft safety. In my opinion, this briefing could stand to be more frequently conducted and a little more thorough.
*However, I will mention that being a “contract” corporate flight attendant, each flight that I work is with a different company so my gauge on consistency in this department can be a little off. I am sure that there are companies out there that are doing crew briefings before each trip.
Another example of CRM going to the waste side is in the “chain of command”department. Because There is a “captain”, and ultimately he/ she has the final say in decisions, I think that the rest of the crew on board often feel that they don’t need to get involved in certain issues or even try to problem solve an issue themselves because they are relying on the captain to do it. We are all human and have bad days or make mistakes so relying on one person to come up with the best answer is not always the best idea.
I know that the pilots go through a checklist before each takeoff and landing and they read it to eachother so nothing is forgotten, but it seems that is would be a great idea to have checklists for many other things as well.
So how do we stay consistent with all our CRM tools?
For one, I think these training classes should include management, pilots,schedulers, and flight attendants in the same class. Personally I want to know that everyone I work with has had this sort of education/ reminders, of how important teamwork is.
Two, email or letter reminders on certain key aspects of CRM should be sent out to crew on a normal basis. sort of “ideas of the week”- topics like crew communication, self awareness, teamwork, etc.
additionally, the pilots can reiterate the important aspects of CRM in their crew briefings.
Three, management needs to make sure those crew briefings are actually happening. They need to CARE that it is happening!
I know At times there is so much going on that management may not have the time to check in with the crew on the topic of crew briefings, but I feel things like this slip through the cracks at the top and then get lost along the way down.
And to all crew members that may read this, its is up to everyone individually to speak up for themselves. If you are working in a metal tube 45,000 feet above the ground, you better make damn sure you know what is going on around you and never be afraid to talk to your crew about anything.
You live or die as a crew! Remember that the next time you think to yourself : “something is not your job”, or “its not your place to say something”…
every flight: strive for communication and synergy.
As wonderful as the corporate aviation industry is,like everything else- it could always be better 🙂
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