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The Importance Of Communication And Teamwork Among

The Flight And Cabin Crew Essay, Research Paper The Importance of Communication and Teamwork Among the Flight and Cabin Crew TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT 4

The Flight And Cabin Crew Essay, Research Paper

The Importance of Communication and Teamwork Among the Flight and Cabin Crew

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ABSTRACT 4

INTRODUCTION 5

Background 5

Purpose/Audience 5

Sources 5

Limitaions 5

Scope 5

COLLECTED DATA 5

Importance of Communication Among the Crew 5

Main Cause of Aircraft Accidents 6

Duties of the Crew Members 7

Expectations of the Crew 7

The Crew is a Team 8

Intimidatin in the Cockpit 8

Cabin Crew is a part of the Team 9

Trusting the Crew’s Judgment 9

Crew Resource Management (CRM) 9

Outline of CRM Training 10

LOFT Training 10

Organizing Resources and Priorities 11

CONCLUSION 11

Summary of Findings 11

Interpretation of Findings 11

REFERENCES 13

ABSTRACT

The majority of aircraft accidents are caused by human error, and an accident or

incident is linked together by a chain of errors. Most of these accidents could

have been avoided by the crew if they would have been communicating to each

other better. Some common errors that occur among the crew are poor task

delegation, assertiveness, and distractions. Crew training in communication and

teamwork will increase the crews’ performance level. Programs like Crew Resource

Management (CRM) have been developed to try to help the crews work together and

reduce the human factor in accidents. CRM includes training in

leadership/followership, assertiveness, management, communication, teamwork,

decision making, and task delegation. Through programs like CRM crews learn to

work together as a team, and when they are working together it is less likely

there’ll be an accident.

INTORDUCTION

Background

The cause for most aircraft accidents (65%) are by crew error (FAA News,

1996). When the Crews performance level is low due to poor teamwork and

communication this is when accidents happen. How can crew error be reduced? Even

though human error can’t be reduced completely through constant training and

effort by the crew performance will increase and accidents will be reduced.

Purpose/Audience

This report is intended for a general audience and will show how

important it is for the flight and cabin crew to work together and communicate

as a team. This report will also examine the CRM program.

Sources

Sources have been obtained for this report from the Internet and from

the Waldo Library, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Scope

Teamwork and communication are a critical factor in the crew’s operation

of aircraft. Accidents can be prevented when these two factors are considered.

COLLECTED DATA

Importance of Communication amoung the Crew

People communicate to each other every day. From a kids talking to their

parents about their report card, to doctors working in an operating room. In

order for us to understand one another we must be clear in what we say. For

instance, if a doctor tells a nurse to pull a certain plug on a machine, he’d

better be clear on what he says or the nurse might end up harming a patient.

Likewise, the cabin and flight crew must work together.

In a typical cockpit the flight crew is very busy, and they need to be

well organized to handle the many tasks they perform. They need to communicate

properly and clearly for safe operations, if they don’t their actions could

result in a tragedy.

Main Cause of Aircraft Accidents

Mechanical problems and technical malfunctions do contribute to aircraft

accidents, but human error is the main cause, accounting for 65% of the

accidents (FAA News, 1996). See the pie chart in figure 1. This figure is quit

high, and if it were possible to reduce human error the accident rate would

drop significantly. Accidents that occur because of human error are not a direct

result of just one error but of a chain of errors. The human error chain results

when one bad decision leads to another which leads to the accident. The question

is, how can we reduce human error in the cockpit? Studies have shown that most

incidents could have been prevented if communication and leadership skills were

improved.

Duties of Crew Members

In order to have a clear understanding of who’s involved in the crew,

these positions with their duties will be discussed. There are usually 2-3

flight crew members and 1-3 flight attendants aboard an airliner. In the flight

deck are the Captain, Co-pilot and flight engineer. When there are only two

flight crew members there’s no flight engineer. (this is to reduce costs). The

Captain is the Pilot in Command (PIC). He/she has the final authority of all

decisions and all responsibility rest on his/her shoulders. The Co-pilot assists

the Captain in his/her duties, like calculating fuel consumptions, weight and

balance, navigation etc. He/she is Second in Command (SIC). The Flight Engineer

helps reduce the work load of the Captain and Co-pilot. Some of his/her duties

may include fuel consumption rate, weight and balance, and communicating with

the cabin crew. The cabin crew consists of the Flight Attendants. Besides

serving coffee and making sure passengers are comfortable, they are also

responsiblefor briefing passengers on emergency procedures, evacuations, and

informing the flight crew when problems arise. Flight Attendants are very

important and are an asset to the crew as a whole.

Expectations of the Crew

Many aircraft accidents have occurred because of role confusion amoung

the crew. It is crucial that each member knows what their job is, and what is

expected of them. A way for them to know is through communication. An example of

miscommunication is the Avianca jet that was in the pattern for over an hour

waiting to land at Kennedy Airport. The flight crew had told Air Traffic Control

(ATC) they were low on fuel and would run out if they did not land soon. The

plane crashed on final approach to land, the reason: fuel exhaustion (Nader &

Smith, 1994). The crew didn’t declare an emergency to ATC. In aviation saying

the right key words can make a difference. Had the pilots declared an emergency

because of the low fuel level ATC would have cleared them to land earlier. Or if

ATC inquired about their fuel situation, the accident wouldn’t have happened.

This accident also shows the human error chain. One mistake leads to another

which leads to an accident..

A Crew is A Team

The words Crew and Team have the same meaning: A group of people working

together. The flight & cabin crew are a team and each crew member is a team

player. A military phrase heard often is “there are no individuals here! You are

a team!” It should be the same way aboard an aircraft. In order for flights to

be safe, efficient and enjoyable the crew needs to be able to work together.

It’s not enough for the Captain to give orders and the crew obey no matter what,

there needs to be open communication.

Intimidation in the Cockpit

The Captain is the commander on board but this doesn’t mean he can’t

listen of take advice. Each member of the “team” is interdependent on one

another. Sometimes in aviation the Captain is thought of as “god”, you don’t

dare approach him or question him. A lot of cabin and flight crews are afraid to

approach the Captain about a safety concern for fear of how he’ll react. Slowly

this attitude has been changing. How can a cockpit be effectively run if the

Captain’s own crew can not work together?

One example of how these attitudes can affect the way hazardous

situations are handled is the Air Ontario flight from Dryden, Canada. The

airliner had been waiting along time for it’s turn to takeoff. The weather was

bad, it was snowing hard and the visibility was low. The last time the plane was

de-iced was a half-hour ago. From the pilots view out the window everything

looked normal. Meanwhile, a flight attendant noticed the snow that was

accumulating on the aircraft’s wings. She wanted to inform the flight crew

before takeoff but was intimidated by what their response would be to her, so

she said nothing. There was also an airline pilot aboard who wasn’t on duty at

the time, but was also concerned about ice forming on the wings. He thought

about letting the flight crew know what he saw, but didn’t want to interfere

with their operations. The Air Canada barely took off when it crashed because

ice had built on the wings causing loss of lift (Chute & Wiener, 1996).

Cabin Crew is part of the Team

Here again is the human error chain. If one of the links could have been

broken the accident wouldn’t have happened. These attitudes can and do cause

harm. The flight attendant and off duty pilot should have informed the crew of

the possible danger and the Captain should have requested another de-icing

before takeoff. The crew should welcome the cabin crew on their concerns, after

all they too are a part of the team.

Trusting the Crew’s Judgment

Trusting each other’s judgement is a necessity. Without it, how can the

crew work together? The Captain must be able to trust that his/her crew are

performing their duties properly and vise/versa. Besides having authority the

Captain is also the leader. He/she is the one when emergency situations arise

pulls the crew together to work as a team even when they don’t know each other.

A true leader is willing to listen to others, be respectful and be able to take

command.

Crew Resource Management (CRM)

A program called Crew Resource Management (CRM) has been developed to

help implement these leadership, communication and decision making skills in

crew members. Since the main cause of accidents is due to human error it is

hoped that through CRM training crew membfers will communicate and work together

more effectively. CRM is not required by the FAA, but it is recommended. Many

airlines are having their crews go through this training and they look highly on

pilots who not only posse the technical skills but also the people skills.

Outline of CRM Training

In years past emphasis was put on the technical, stick and rudder

aspects of flying. In recent years it has become evident that these skills by

themselves are not enough, but that training in people skills is needed. That is

what CRM is about. It provides crews’ training in:

1. Communication.

2. Decision making.

3. Assertiveness.

4. Leadership/Followership.

5. Teamwork.

6. Task Delegation.

7. Managing.

Crew members going through CRM training will attend classroom

instruction, watch video’s and participate in role playing on these subjects

(FAA- AC, 1995). LOFT Training

Because crews rarely work together more than once and dont’t have time

to build a commrodery, using the Line Oriented Flight Training (LOFT) simulator

crews practice managing a cockpit with members they’ve never met (Chute & Wiener

I,1996). This simulator is like virtual reality. Pilots sit in a cockpit where

the windows are where the video screen is, all the buttons and knobs work.

(Pilot have come out of these LOFT simulators sweating, because what they’ve

just experienced seemed so real). In LOFT crews can fly routes and have

emergency situations come up, like an engine failure, deteriorating weather, and

navigation problems. The benifit about LOFT is that it’s a simulator, there’s no

danger involved and yet the crew still learns (Helmreich, 1996). Crews going

through LOFT training are evaluated on how well they handled the different

situations, communication with each other and task delegation. These training

sessions are vidio taped so the crew can debrief afterwards how well they did

and what they need to change.

Organize Resources and Priorities

Crew members are not only leaders but also managers. They must be able

to use their time and resources wisely. Thers’s only so many tasks that one

person can handle and be efficient at the same time. That’s why Captains need to

know when to delegate duties and when to notice that another has to many. Also,

They need to prioritise, know what duties are the most important and when they

need to be done. This is all part of being a leader and manager.

CONCLUSION

Summary of Findings

Human error is the main cause of aircraft accidents, and it’s a chain of

errors that sets the accident into motion. Poor flight and cabin crew

communication does exist. A program called Crew Resource Management has been

developed to improve teamwork, proper task delegation, communication, and trust

among the crew.Interpretation of the Findings

The need for crew communication is evident. When crews’ don’t work

together their performance level is low and this is when they are volnerable to

accidents.

Programs like CRM are very helpful in instilling these principles and

breaking the bad habits. Poor attitiudes and habits can’t be changed overnight.

That’s why there is a need for recurrent CRM training. Communicaiton and

teamwork is the key to safe and effective operations. There’s no “I” in CREW but

there is “WE”.

REFERENCES

Chute, R. D. & Wiener, E. L. “Cockpit/cabin communication: I. A tale of two

cultures.” [http://olias.arc.nasa.gov/personnel/people/RebeccaChute/JA1.htm.].

Oct 1996.

Federal Aviation Administration. (1995) Crew resource management training (AFS-

210, AC no. 120-51B). Washington, D. C.

Nader, R. & Smith, W. J. (1994). Collision course: The truth about airline

safety. PA: TAB Books.

FAA News. “Atlantic coast airlines first to use FAA crew performance program.”

[http://www.dot.gov/affairs/apa15596.htm]. Sept 1996.

Helmreich, R. L. “The evolution of crew resource management.”

[http://www.psy.utexas.edu/psy/helmreich/iata96/htm]. Oct 1996.

Chute, R. D. & Wiener, E. L. (1996). Cockpit-cabin communicaiton: II. shall we

tell the pilot? The International Journal of Aviaiton Phychology, 6 (3), 211-

-229

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