Checklists and CRM Can Prevent Aircraft Accidents

Fundamentals of Instruction

Why Checklists and CRM are Essential for Aviation Safety 

Have you ever had the Low Fuel light come on during a flight? It’s a situation that can be both terrifying and dangerous. While it’s something we all memorize in training, we never truly expect to face it in real life. Fortunately, checklists and crew resource management (CRM) can help manage these situations. 

The truth is, there are many scenarios that can lead to a low fuel situation. It could be a result of incorrect flight planning, forgetfulness, or even gross negligence. Unfortunately, it does happen, and it can have serious consequences, especially when checklists and CRM are not followed through to help mitigate the issue. 

In November 2021 in Canada, a de Havilland Twin Otter crashed because the pilots forgot to fuel their airplane and check its quantity prior to takeoff. To avoid such accidents, we must use the safety net of our checklists and CRM.  

Using Checklists 

The use of checklists is critical for aviation pilots, as they help to ensure a safe and successful mission by minimizing the potential of errors due to human error or malfunctioning equipment. Pilots should use checklists at every stage of their flights – before, during and after – to cover all necessary areas related to aircraft and engine checks, crew briefings and any other essential processes involved in a safe flight.  

Pre-Flight Checklist 

Before an aircraft takes off, pilots must ensure that all components of the aircraft are in proper working order. This includes both mechanical and electrical inspections as well as crew briefings. A thorough pre-flight checklist should cover the following areas: 

  • Aircraft Inspections: Ensure that all external components such as wings, landing gear, and navigation equipment are in good condition. If necessary, perform a visual inspection of the interior too. 
  • Engine Checks: Conduct a comprehensive inspection of all engines to make sure they are free from any malfunction or failure. Test their power output to make sure they have sufficient fuel and oil levels. 
  • Crew Briefings: Go through each crew member’s role during flight operations and discuss any potential risks or challenging scenarios that may arise during the mission. 

In-Flight Checklist 

Once the aircraft is airborne, pilots must monitor its progress throughout the entire duration of the flight – this includes both mechanical and human factors. An in-flight checklist should cover these elements: 

  • Navigation: Monitor/adjust navigational paths as need be due to weather changes or other unexpected events. 
  • Communication: Maintain contact with air traffic control by responding promptly to any instructions sent by them. Keep crew members informed about relevant information at all times via effective communication protocols. 
  • Equipment Monitoring: Make sure all systems are functioning properly during flight operations; inspect lights, instrument panel controls and check for engine anomalies if needed. 

Post Flight Checklist 

The post flight checklist usually involves preparing for the next flights as well as conducting a debriefing with all personnel onboard regarding elements such as risk management strategies employed during flight operations and how effective were those strategies on certain occasions etc. An efficient post flight checklist should include the following points: 

  • Recording Data: Record data from instruments during landing to evaluate whether actual performance matches expected performance while referencing air traffic control reports along with weather records received before departure and arrival time of aircrafts. 
  • Equipment Maintenance: Inspect individual pieces of equipment (wings, navigation systems etc) to identify any issues encountered during flight operations so that these can be addressed promptly prior to taking off again with same set of equipment being used again. 
  • Debriefing Sessions: Hold debriefing sessions amongst personnel onboard after every mission so that valuable insights can be gained regarding strategies employed towards risk management procedures and effectiveness against possible risks encountered during every mission. 


The Significance of CRM in Aviation 

In addition to checklists, the significance of CRM in aviation cannot be overstated. It helps create an atmosphere of shared responsibility among flight personnel that leads to improved performance during critical phases of the flight; this includes takeoff, landing, approach control and more. Furthermore, effective crew resource management reduces errors by having individuals learn from each other’s mistakes while maintaining structured communication throughout the mission. This helps enhance safety on board which ultimately contributes to better outcomes for flights overall. 

The Benefits of CRM in Aviation 

The benefits of implementing Crew Resource Management (CRM) within the aviation industry are numerous: 

  • Safety: Enhancing safety during critical phases of the flight thanks to improved problem-solving and decision-making through effective communication between crew members. 
  • Efficiency: Reducing costly errors throughout missions due to better organization and coordination amongst crew members. 
  • Cost Reduction: Decreasing operational costs through increased efficiency due to improved team coordination amongst personnel aboard aircraft. 

In conclusion, checklists and crew resource management (CRM) should be viewed as essential resources for any flight. However, to reap the benefits of these tools, they must be used appropriately and regularly. Taking into account the importance of both checklists and CRM, crew members must recognize their responsibility to use them correctly in order to ensure safe flying. It is therefore paramount that each crewmember takes an active role in participating with these devices so that flight safety standards are upheld, and potentially dangerous situations are avoided.  

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