The training and practice of crew resource management: recommendations from an inductive in vivo study of the flight deck

Crew resource management (CRM) is credited with saving 185 lives at Sioux City. While the theory behind CRM is well documented, there are few studies of how CRM manifests on the line. This inductive in vivo study had three objectives. First, to describe how CRM manifests. Secondly, to evaluate the efficacy of CRM vis-à-vis flight safety. Thirdly, to suggest improvements to the CRM training syllabus. The study produced five conclusions: First, CRM is durable under conditions of moderate strain. Secondly, crews embed and refine CRM through reflection and action. Thirdly, CRM facilitates and shapes social relations. Fourthly, mindlessness (Langer 1989) undermines CRM. Finally, the interruption of flight-deck routines by third-parties poses a threat to flight-safety. The paper recommends multi-profession CRM training as a means of improving communication and co-ordination in and around aircraft. The study’s limitations include a monocultural flight-deck: flights were operated by pilots with European backgrounds. Mindful of Hofstede’s (1980), Engle's (2000) and Helmreich and Merritt's (2001) examination of the relationship between culture and performance, the author suggests the study be repeated with carriers that employ pilots from a variety of cultures. Practitioner Summary: This in vivo study evaluates the efficacy of CRM vis-à-vis flight safety and supports a critique of the CRM syllabus. The author observed twenty sectors and attended a CRM training day. To improve safety and efficiency, it is recommended that airlines run multi-profession (inclusive) CRM training courses.


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  • Accession Number: 01705044
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 2 2019 3:01PM