Crew Resource Management May Have Prevented Incident
Crew resource management (CRM) has a long history in aviation, but it is not a foolproof solution for safe flights. While it makes logical sense, we continue to hear about dangerous mistakes.
Recently, professional pilots ignored a clearance, resulting in a collision at Houston Hobby airport. A Hawker 850XP took off without proper clearance while a Citation Mustang was landing. The collision caused damage to both aircraft, but thankfully no injuries occurred. However, the potential for a catastrophic outcome was present, leading to several hours of airport closure and numerous flight delays or diversions.
Why CRM is Important
Here are some reasons why CRM is so important:
- Communication: Clear, concise, and effective communication among crew members is crucial for safe flight operations. Miscommunications or misunderstandings can lead to serious errors. For instance, the Tenerife airport disaster in 1977, the deadliest accident in aviation history, was largely due to miscommunication between the pilots and air traffic controllers.
- Decision Making: CRM promotes shared decision making, which can help in critical situations. Two heads are better than one, and in high-pressure scenarios, collective decision-making can prevent accidents.
- Situational Awareness: CRM fosters situational awareness, keeping everyone on the same page about the status of the aircraft and the flight.
- Conflict Management: CRM provides tools for conflict management. In a high-stress environment like a cockpit, conflicts can arise. Effective CRM helps manage and resolve these conflicts to ensure the smooth operation of the flight.
- Workload Management: CRM helps distribute workload evenly among crew members, preventing fatigue and overwork, which can lead to mistakes.
Effective CRM mandates that any uncertainties regarding clearances must be verified with each other and air traffic control before taking off. It is an essential part of being a successful pilot. From clear and effective communication to shared decision making and conflict management skills, CRM offers important tools to prevent critical errors from occurring. The tragedy of the Tenerife airport disaster and the recent Hawker incident serve as reminders of just how important it is that crew members have the knowledge and skills necessary to make good decisions while aboard the aircraft.