Crew Resource Management


Crew Resource Management (CRM) is defined as, ‘The effective utilisation of all available resources of, hardware, software, and liveware to achieve efficient, safe flight operations'. CRM can be also defined as the application of human factors in the aviation system which uses all available resources (equipment and people) to achieve safe flight operations. CRM combines individual technical efficiency with the broader goal of crew coordination.

Theoretical frame

One of the most outstanding developments in aviation safety for the past decade has been the implementations of training programs aiming to increase effectiveness and efficient in crew’s teamwork as well as flight-deck management (Foushee, 1993 [1]). This development was first introduced when aircraft investigators concluded that ‘pilot error’ documented in past accidents and incidents were reflected to team-communication and coordination rather then pilots ‘stick and rudder’ skills proficiency (Helmreich, 2000 [5]). The original label for such training was known as cockpit resource management, but with recognition to its applicability of the approach to others members of the aviation community; it changes into Crew Resource Management (CRM) (Murphy, 1980 [6]).

Crew resource management is not a tool that is aimed at eliminating human error, as expected, eliminating human error is impossible, and it must be accepted that error is the natural limitation of human performance, and also an inevitable by-product of performance and production. Crew resource management training is a tool that can be used to manage errors, and also manage the consequences of them also.

Since the start of CRM in the 1990s, human factors topic added in to pilot training. Human factors have been recognised as a ‘core technology’ in aviation. ICAO Assembly set the foundation of human factor programs in 1986. In 1989, ICAO revise the ANNEX 1 which from then all requires all contracting states pilots to be familiar with ‘human performance and limitations’ In 1997, when the European Joint Aviation Regulation (JARs) became effective, CRM is a mandatory all professional pilots and those studying for their licenses (Helmreich, 2000 [5]). As CRM evolves till today, it is recognised as a compulsory training for all pilots, controllers and even other aviation personnel.

CRM regulations and its usefulness can reduce errors which allowed aviation training in airlines, flight schools, and military-flying to changed dramatically. For example, airline pilots training are now focusing on training for technical skills as well as behavioural and resource management skill in order to fly safely and efficiently in today’s environment. Pilots are to know about human strengths, limitations and small-group-performance in which they will take advantage of them in which may reduce errors. CRM research has also lead to changes selection of pilots. Modern pilot selections are now focusing on individual’s cognitive and psychomotor skills then their personality factors.

The Generations of CRM

The development of Crew Resource Management (CRM) can be categorised into five generations.

First Generation.
Derived from classical management styles, with focus on interpersonal skill. This first generation Crew Resource Management emphasised changing individual styles and correcting deficiencies in individual behaviour. First generation Crew Resource Management was overly focused on interpersonal behaviour.There are no clear definitions of appropriate behaviour at its learning outcome of CRM training. CRM was also integrated with simulation training known as Line-Oriented Flight Training (LOFT). During this humble beginning, there are still many rejections on CRM training as they felt that such programs attempts to manipulate their personality (Foushee, 1993 [1]).

Second generation.
Second Generation was more focused on specific aviation matters, and CRM was renamed Cockpit Resource Management. Second Generation Crew Resource Management dealt more specifically to aviation concepts and flight operations as well the introduction of team work and team management.

Third Generation.
Third generation reflected characteristics of the aviation system in which crew must function. The third generation focused on specific skills and behaviours that pilots could use to function more effectively. Unlike the previous generation, the third generation incorporated culture. Human factors issues have been accepted and CRM issues are addressed with concerns to flight-deck automation. CRM has been extended to other aviation personnel such as cabin crews, engineers (Hemreich, 1993 [3]).

However, the third generation was criticised as it was seen to weaken the original purpose of crew resource management training, which was aimed to reduce human error, not increasing efficiency.

Fourth Generation.
Fourth generation included integration of Crew Resource Management concepts into technical training, as well as requiring all flight carriers to provide Crew Resource Management training to all flight crew. As a result of integration of Crew Resource Management, several airlines begun to incorporate and proceduralise the concepts involved by adding specific behaviours to their checklist.One of the main introductions to CRM training at this period would be the culture perspectives of different regions. CRM trainings are to integrate with its local/organisational culture in order for it to have optimal effect on performance (Helmreich, 1999 [4]).

Fifth Generation.
Fifth generation of crew resource management emphasised the fact that human behaviour is inevitable, but also a valuable source of information. Its focus has shift to the basis of limitation of human performances which in terms will reduce human errors. Organisational culture is also one of the main concerns in CRM in recent years as it enhances safety towards another level. If company culture has been ‘safety first’, with CRM training, the results will prevent less human errors. Again, Culture does not affect its primary goals of safe and efficient flight. It is merely the environmental factors which may determine the level of air safety at different part of the world (Helmreich, 2000 [5]).

The new generation not only accepted the inevitability of human error, but viewed crew resource management as a set of counter-measures, with three lines of defence.

1. Error avoidance.
2. Trapping incipient errors before they are committed.
3. Mitigating the consequences of those errors which occur and are not trapped.

Supporting evidence

A research conducted by O'Connor, Campbell, Newon, Melton, Salas and Wilson (2008 [7]) aimed to judge the effectiveness of CRM training using a meta-analysis. Sixteen different evaluation studies were invovled in the research. The major factors evaluated include reactions, attitudes, behaviours and knowledge of the participants. A mean of 4 on a 5 point Likert scale showed a posiitive response from the participants about CRM. The trainings had great effects on behaviours and attitifes, however, mederate effect was observed for knowledge. Thus, research concluded that CRM has a large effect on aviation safety.

A literature of Harris and Li (2008 [2]) suggests that studies have proven that the higher aviation accident rate at Southeast Asia and Africa (5.1 and 8.1 accidents/million departures) compared to that of Europe and America (1 to 1.5 accidents/million departures) is due to poor CRM. Certain cultural factors, such a power-distance was found as the root cause of many Asian accidents. Analysis of an accident involving a Taiwani aircraft showed that poor decision-making, procedural violations and perceptual errors were a result of mismanagement of cockpit (poor CRM). However, the study also suggest about the mismatch between the Asian and African cultures (collectivism) and their standard operating procedures which have a Western touch (individualism).

Refuting evidence

Way forward (to do list)

1. FOUSHEE HC & RL HELMREICH (1993). Why crew resource management? Empirical and theoretical basis of human factors training in aviation. In RL HELMREICH, BG KANKI & EL WIENER [eds] (1993). Cockpit resource management. Academic Press (UK), 1993, pp: 3-41.
2. Harris, D., & Li, WC. (2008). Cockpit design and cross-cultural issues underlying failures in crew resource. Aviation Space and Environmental Medicine, 79, 5, 537-538.
3. Helmreich, R.L, Kanki, B. G. & Wiener, E. L (1993).The Future of Crew Resource Management in Cockpit and Elsewhere. In Helmreich, R.L, Kanki, B. G. & Wiener, E. L. (Eds). Cockpit Resource management. (pp: 3-41). United Kingdom: Academic Press, Inc.
4. Helmreich, R.L, Merritt A.C, Wilhelm, J.A (1999). The Evolution of Crew Resource Management Training in Commercial Aviation. Texas USA, 1999.
5. Helmreich, R.L. & Merritt, A. C. (2000). Safety & Error Management. The Role of Crew Resource Management. In Hayward, B. J. & Lowe, A. R. (Eds). Aviation Resource Management. (pp 107-119). Aldershot. UK: Ashgate.
6. Murphy, M. (1980). Review of Aircraft Accidents. In Cooper, G. E. White, M. D. & Lauber, J. K. (Eds). (1980). Resource Management on the Flightdeck: Proceedings of a NASA/Industry Workshop. (NASA CP-2120).// Moffett Field. CA: NASA-Ames Research Centre.
7. O'Connor, P., Campbell, J., Newon, J., Melton, J., Salas, E., & Wilson, K. A. (2008). Crew resource management training effectivess: A meta-analysis and some critical needs. International Journal of Aviation Psychology, 18, 4, 353-368.

Further reading

1: Jensen, R. S. (1995). Pilot Judgement and Crew Resource Management. UK: Ashgate Publishing Limited

2: McAllister, B. (1997). Crew Resource Management. Awareness, Cockpit Efficiency & Safety. UK: Airlife Publishing Ltd.

3: Munn, J. (JR). (1998). Crew Resource Management (CRM) Basic Concepts. USAF: Department of Air force Flight Standard Agency (Publication AT-M-06A).

4: Shari Stamford Krause, Ph.D. Aircraft Safety; Accident Investigations, Analyses, and Applications. McGraw-Hill.

5: Wickens, C. D. & Hollands, J. G. (2000). Engineering Psychology and Human Performance. USA Prentice- Hall Inc. pp. 480-492

Knowledge Management Space

explanation, CRM,

Wiki of Science Team (contributors to this page)

Authors / Editors

ZiZhanG NGZiZhanG NG

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License