The Evolution of Crew Resource Management Training in Commercial Aviation

Topics: Federal Aviation Administration, Air safety, International Civil Aviation Organization Pages: 17 (5963 words) Published: August 14, 2012
The Evolution of Crew Resource Management Training in Commercial Aviation1 Robert L. Helmreich, Ashleigh C. Merritt & John A. Wilhelm Department of Psychology Aerospace Crew Research Project The University of Texas at Austin Abstract Changes in the nature of CRM training in commercial aviation are described, including its shift from Cockpit to Crew Resource Management. Validation of the impact of CRM is discussed. Limitations of CRM, including lack of crosscultural generality are considered. An overarching framework that stresses error management to increase acceptance of CRM concepts is presented. The error management approach defines behavioral strategies taught in CRM as error countermeasures that are employed to avoid error, to trap errors committed, and to mitigate the consequences of error. The roots of Crew Resource Management training in the United States are usually traced back to a workshop, Resource Management on the Flightdeck sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in 1979 (Cooper, White, & Lauber, 1980).2 This conference was the outgrowth of NASA research into the causes of air transport accidents. The research presented at this meeting identified the human error aspects of the majority of air crashes as failures of interpersonal communications, decision making, and leadership. At this meeting, the label Cockpit Resource Management (CRM) was applied to the process of training crews to reduce “pilot error” by making better use of the human resources on the flightdeck. Many of the air carriers represented at this meeting left it committed to developing new training programs to enhance the interpersonal aspects of flight operations. Since that time CRM training programs have proliferated in the United States and around the world. Approaches to CRM have also evolved in the years since the NASA meeting. The focus of this paper is on the generations of CRM training that reflect this evolution and on the problems that have been encountered in changing the attitudes and behavior of flight crews. CRM training in the military has followed its own path of growth and evolution and will not be addressed here (see Prince & Salas, 1993, for a discussion of military CRM programs). We use the term ‘evolution’ in describing the changes in CRM over the last two decades. Evolution, as formally defined refers to the process of growth and development, a description that aptly fits CRM. Similarly, the very different content and foci of programs called CRM justifies This work was supported by FAA Grant 92-G-017. Portions of this paper were presented at the International Air Transport (IATA) Human Factors Seminar, Warsaw, Poland, October 31, 1996, and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Regional Safety and Human Factors Seminar, Panama City, Panama, November 20, 1997. We would like to thank two anonymous reviewers who made cogent and helpful comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript. Additional information and data collection forms can be found on our Internet Homepage: http// 2 In Europe, the research of Elwin Edwards (1972) was translated into human factors training at KLM Royal Dutch airlines in the late 1970s. 1

______________________________________________________________________________ University of Texas at Austin Human Factors Research Project: 235 Helmreich, R.L., Merritt, A.C., & Wilhelm, J.A. (1999). The evolution of Crew Resource Management training in commercial aviation. International Journal of Aviation Psychology, 9(1), 19-32.

Evolution of CRM


defining them in terms of generations (although temporally a CRM generation is closer to that of the Drosophila than the human). Our focus is on the most recent approaches to CRM training. Early generations are described briefly to show their context and emphases (see Helmreich & Foushee, 1993, for a more complete description of early programs). FIRST GENERATION COCKPIT...

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Leadership represents a critical area where training can be effective but a set of rote procedures will not lead to optimum performance (Pettitt & Dunlap, 1997).
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