Research Paper: Crew Resource Management (CRM)

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¶ … Crew Resource Management (CRM) is a term which was according to Smith (2002) defined by Jon K. Lauber in 1984 as the process of using all of the available resources, equipment, information as well as people in order to achieve safe as well as efficient flight. The concept of crew resorce management is noted by the Royal Aeronautical Society (1999) to have been a round for close to three decades but despite this; there is still a lot of confusion within the global aviation industry.

The aim of this paper is to investigate the credibility of the concept of Crew Resource Management (CRM) in the improvement of operational efficiency as well as the enhancement of flight safety in the aviation industry.


The objectives of this paper are:

To investigate the concept of crew management in the aviation industry

To investigate the prevalence as well as the severity of the aviation safety problems

To investigate the various CRM practices including Single Pilot Resource Management -- SRM in use within the aviation industry

4. To investigate the credibility of the Crew Resource Management (CRM) in the improvement of operational efficiency

5. To investigate how CRM enhances flight safety in the aviation industry.

6. To investigate the future of CRM in the aviation industry

Review of Relevant Literature and Research

Crew Resource Management in the Aviation industry

The concept of Crew Resource Management has widely been employed in the improvement of the level of operation of the flight crews. The concept is noted by Cooper, White, Laube (1980) to have originated sometime in 1979 as a response to a workshop that was organized by NASA in order to examine the role that is played by human error in the air crashes. The concept of CRM is therefore noted to place a great emphasis on the role of the human factors in the high-stress and high-risk environments. The concept of CRM involves aspects of team training and simulation in what is commonly referred to as LOFT (Line-Oriented Flight Training).It also involves very integrative debriefings (group-based) as well as the measurement and the improvement of the performance of the aircrew. It is worth noting that there is no universally accepted CRM training program standards. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is noted to allow all the air carriers to effectively customize their Crew Resource Management (CRM) programs in manners that best suit their unique and individual needs.

The training programs therefore vary from one carrier to the next and this therefore makes it extremely difficult to adequately describe its operational mechanisms and components. The CRM programs are also noted by Helmreich, Merritt, & Wilhelm (1999) to be rapidly evolving.

Conceptual framework

The work of Helmreich and Foushee (1993) proposed a model that focuses on the various elements of the human effectiveness. According to this conceptual framework, the three main components of an efficient crew management system are efficiency, morale and safety. Some specific factors that are also related to the performance of the aircrew are often categorized as well as serve as the main basis for both training and research.

These factors are organization, material, individual as well as group process variables that are closely associated with performance levels (Barker et al.,1996).The expected deliverables from the input of these crucial variables are efficiency, safety as well as customer satisfaction.

Helmreich and Merritt (1996) also proposed a somehow modified conceptual framework for Crew Resource Management (CRM) known as "Error Troika," to be used in the display of a hierarchy comprising of three error countermeasures. This conceptual framework is based on the training aimed at reducing errors. This is at first level. At the second level, the identified potential errors are effectively "trapped" before they come to be and at the third level, the errors are effectively mitigated using the most appropriate steps.

In the practical sense, the CRM programs basically involve the process of educating the flight crew on the various limitations of the very concept of human performance. The trainees therefore develop a unique understanding of the cognitive errors as well as how stressors like fatigue work over load and emergencies contribute to errors. The multi-day Crew Resource Management programs generally require that the participants assess their personal behaviors as well as the behavior of their peers. The operational concepts that are stressed upon include advocacy, inquiry, conflict resolution, seeking of the necessary operational information as well as decision making.

The prevalence as well as the severity of the aviation safety problems

The aviation industry has long history of thorough collection as well as analysis of various safety-related data. Human error is however noted to contribute to close to 50% of all aviation accidents. Billings and Reynard (1984) conducted an analysis of a total of 35,000 incident reports spanning seven and half years and their analysis revealed that close to 50% of the incidents were as a result of the errors by flight crew. Another 35% were however attributed to errors by air traffic controllers. Billings and Reynard (1984) further indicated that the main cause of the errors was rooted at the inability of the flight crew to effectively use the various resources that are at their disposal. Similar reports were found by a Naval aviation report (Wiegmann & Shappell,1999).


The methodology employed in this study involved the analysis of representative studies on the effectiveness of the CRM initiatives. The chosen studies also had measures for the effectiveness of the CRM initiatives .Several representative studies were employed in the evaluation of the effectives of CRM initiatives. These studies however all relied on proxy tools (Barker et al.,1996; Wiegmann & Shappell,1999; Helmreich, Wilhelm, Gregorich, Chidester,1990)


Even though no obvious measures for the effectiveness of CRM initiatives exist, the rates of airline accidents as well as those of "near misses" may be employed. It is worth noting that these measures are mainly objective are therefore never employed in most aviation studies. The work of Helmreich however suggested that it is never possible to employ these measures due to the fact that the rates of accidents are relatively low while the rates of the "near misses" are subject to voluntary reporting. The variability of the content as well as structure of the CRM training programs is another factor which makes the measurement of the CRM initiatives difficult. As a result of these obstacles, several tools have been developed for use in the assessment of the effectiveness if the CRM initiatives. These tools include peer performance questionnaires and attitudinal surveys. These include the NASA University of Texas Checklist also known as the LINE/LOS checklist (Helmreich et al.,1999), the Flight Management Attitudes Questionnaire (FMAQ) and the Cockpit Management Attitudes Questionnaire (CMAQ).The application of the LINE/LOS Checklist is when there is a need to rate the performance crew to be measured on the various critical behaviors at certain specific segments of a flight.

The CMAQ is however employed in the evaluation of the attitudes of the air crew within as well as between organizations both pre-as well as post CRM training. The outcome are the used as proxy for the measurement of the crew performance and process (Gregorich, Helmrich, Wilhelm,1990).The instruments were however validated by comparing the attitudes (self-reported) with the performance ratings that are made by highly experienced Check Airmen as well as experts who are trained in various aspects of peer-evaluation (Helmrich et al.,1986).


As indicated earlier, the studies relied on proxy tools for the evaluation of the effectiveness of CRM practices.The study by Helmreich, Wilhelm, Gregorich, Chidester (1990) involved an assessment of the crew attitude pre and post CRM training. The behavior of the crew were noted by an expert observer by means of the NASA/University of Texas Line/LOS Checklist (Helmreich & Schaefer,1998).The study involved over two thousand line flights as well as LOFT sessions and the overall performance of the aircrew were classified accordingly as "below average," or "above average," or "average," by both the LOFT instructors and the Check Airmen. As a consequence of the CRM training, the percentage of aircrew members who were classified as "above average" effectively increased while the ones who were classified as "below average" saw a considerable the superior pilots were also noted to have common attributes.

The study by Baker et al. (1986) however compared the effectiveness of seventeen CRM-trained crew members on various military mission simulators. These crew members were then dicided into "formed" or "fixed" crews. A total of nine crews were then classified as "fixed" due to the fact that they had flown for 6 or more months together. The remaining eight were classified as "formed" and they had flown together for a period of less than six months. The behavior was then monitored using the NASA/University of Texas Line/LOS Checklist.the formed crew was noted to commit relatively few errors. The conclusion is that the formed group may experience a reduced level of coordination when compared to the fixed one.

The final study by Wiegmann & Shappell (1999) evaluated the relative rates… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Cite This Research Paper:

APA Format

Crew Resource Management (CRM).  (2012, January 30).  Retrieved December 5, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Crew Resource Management (CRM)."  30 January 2012.  Web.  5 December 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Crew Resource Management (CRM)."  January 30, 2012.  Accessed December 5, 2019.