Sample Aviation Essay Paper on Crew Resource Management


The development of Crew Resource Management ideologies has had a constructive bearing on safety within the aviation industry. This paper will discuss the evolution of Crew Resource Management (CRM) concurrently with its impact on flight safety. In 1979, the American National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) funded an aeronautics sector workshop that was referred to as Resource Management on the Flight Deck. The workshop concentrated on the causes of flight accidents. According to the NASA research offered at the workshop, it was acknowledged that 70% of aircraft aviation incidences were as a result of errors in decision making, interpersonal communications and lack of effective leadership amongst the flight crew. In other words, most of the aviation accidents are not as a result of the airliners but mostly because of the errors by humans flying them.

Crew Resource Management


The emergence of Crew Resource Management training was introduced during the workshop Resource Management on the Flight deck, which was sponsored by National Aeronautics and Space Administration in 1979 (NASA). This conference was a development of NASA’s exploration into the reasons of air transport accidents. According to the survey, which was presented in the workshop, it was evident that human error elements formed the major cause of air accidents, for instance, faults in interpersonal communications, decision making, and leadership. During the workshop, the tag Cockpit Resource Management (CRM) was used in the process of training crews to reduce pilot error through effective application of by human resources on the flight deck. Several air carriers crew and management present during the workshop acknowledged the significance of developing new training programs to improve the interpersonal features of flight operations. From that time, CRM training programs have increased and incorporated both in the United States and across the globe. Furthermore, different strategies to CRM have also continued to develop several years after the NASA meeting (Helmreich, Merritt & Wilhelm, 1999). The application of the word evolution is used in reference to the changes in CRM over the last two decades. Evolution basically involves the process of growth and development, a portrayal that appropriately fits CRM. The focus of this discussion will be based on the recent approaches to CRM training as well as initial generations that will be briefly discussed to indicate their context and focus.

The Emergence Of CRM

The initial inclusive CRM program was introduced by United Airlines in 1981. This training was advanced through the assistance of consultants who had established training programs for organizations that were trying to improve managerial success. This program was fashioned thoroughly through a training mode referred to as Managerial Grid, which was developed by psychologists Robert Blake and Jane Mouton (Helmreich, Merritt & Wilhelm, 1999). The teaching was undertaken in a rigorous conference setting, which incorporated participants’ analyses of their own management style. Several airline programs drew deeply on management training strategies involved. These programs underlined the fluctuating individual styles and improving deficits in individual conduct, for instance, lack of decisiveness by juniors as well as dictatorial behavior by captains. In backing this focus, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB, 1979) singled out that most of the captains fail to accept input from subordinate crew members, a situation commonly referred to as “Wrong Stuff” and a lack of decisiveness by the flight engineer in emergency situations. The first generation courses in CRM took a psychological perspective, with a substantial emphasis on mental examination and general models, for instance, leadership and communication. They first generation strategies focused on interpersonal conduct without offering clear descriptions of apposite conduct in the cockpit. During this seminar, several games and exercises disparate to aviation were incorporated as a way of demonstrating the concepts. Furthermore, it was acknowledged that CRM training should not be a onetime involvement in a pilot’s profession and a twelve-monthly intermittent training in CRM must be part of the program.  

In the beginning of the 1990s, CRM training expanded down to take different forms. The skills provided took new shapes and started reflecting features of the aviation system in which crews must take responsibility, for instance, the several input elements like organizational culture that affects safety. Altogether, the efforts also focused on incorporating CRM with technical training and an emphasis on explicit skills and conducts that pilots could apply in functioning more successfully. Several aviation organizations started to incorporate different modules touching CRM subjects entailed in flight deck automation. The programs began also included the acknowledgement and valuation of human features.

Generally, natural precincts affecting human performance and the environmental complexity makes human error unavoidable. In the aviation sector, safety is considered as fundamental. Since the introduction of the aviation industry, human factors have been highly acknowledged. This is because human factors are known to originate from the combination of engineering and the mind that CRM has endeavored to address. The training programs in the aviation industry have been important in the past decade and their incorporation has enhanced the effectiveness of aviation crew teamwork. This training as seen in the generations, which was originally called cockpit resource management resulted into Crew Resource Management, which applied to all the crew members entailed in the aviation industry. CRM training is aimed at enhancing effective aviation performance, both technically and in interpersonal and team skills (Pizzi, Goldfarb & Nash, 2001). The key emphasis is placed on the team management and the approaches and behaviors of each individual crew. The CRM courses are deliberated to handle human performance, which is a product of human mental composition.

There are several ways in which CRM has enhanced aviation safety. In the first place,
 the concept of communication and decision making skills, which is part of the CRM modules are significant elements in enhancing flight safety. The construction of interpersonal skills developed through CRM is crucial in ensuring best performance among crew members. Through CRM training, the crew members are empowered on the significance of information flow through accurate communication that is timely to enhance decision-making and avoid fatal emergencies (Salas et al., 2006). The communication styles entailed in CRM training is also important for interpretation and determining effective response among the aviation personnel. Effective communication and information is important in providing critical data that is applied in making wise decisions that enhances aviation safety (Wagener & Ison, 2014).

The other component involved in CRM involves team leadership, an important element in ensuring aviation safety. CRM team building entails two major models; leadership and team management. In most cases, large airliners are led by a team of pilots and not and individual pilot. Therefore, the teams are significant in aviation as a result of the intricacy tasks as triggered by technological advances. Teams are significant in enhancing aviation safety and CRM aids in developing the manner in individual crew members behave in the team. Therefore, CRM main intention is to enhance aviation safety through reducing problems that might occur as a result of team effect, for instance, bystander impact, conformity and problem of decision-making in teams among others.

The human factors subject entailed in pilot training is important in aviation. It has been acknowledged by all aviation institutions and made compulsory for pilots training, controllers and even other aviation personnel that reduces chances of airline emergencies. CRM regulation and its effectiveness to decrease errors has transformed the aviation industry vividly. For instance, several airline pilots are taking training courses to enhance their technical skills in addition to behavioral and resource management skills, which enhances flight safety. Through CRM, pilots are able to acknowledge the significance of teamwork among the crew personnel and make use of all the human strength entailed in them to minimize the risks of any error hence enhancing flight safety.

Examples of Good CRM

The first example of a good CRM is the three-person crew who were flying a United Airlines DC-10 aircraft from Denver to Chicago in 1989. The crew team managed to respond to an imminent tragedy. Through CRM expertise, the crew were able to split the aircrafts central engine, separating lines near the rudder and ailerons needed to maneuver the aeroplane. In approximately 34 minutes before crash landing in Sioux City airport runway, the crew designed a system for controlling the plane through determining damage, choosing a landing site and making the crash known to the crew and passengers.  Through deep interaction, which is an indication of outstanding communication facilitated them to control the whole status quo. The teamwork involved allowed the junior crew members to liberally give ideas and the captain replied with appropriate commands. Therefore, effective interpersonal communication aptitude among these crew as upheld by CRM provided emotional backing that allowed the crew to take control of the emergency situation and saved the lives of many individuals.

The second case of good CRM occurred in 2009 when U.S. Airways plane 1549 landed safely in New York’s Hudson River. Both engines on the plane completely failed when it hit certain geese while leaving LaGuardia Airport. Nevertheless, the captain’s knowledge in CRM helped him to make a quick and right decision. He considered going back to LaGuardia, restarted the engine, asked whether he could land on another site in New Jersey, and ended up landing in the Hudson River to save the situation. CRM knowledge in making effective and timely decisions enabled the captain to prevent an accident from occurring. There was appropriate communication and coordination, which should serve as a good example to all captains.

The third instance of good CRM is an accident that involved the United 232 plane that underwent a catastrophic failure of the tail-mounted engine, making the captain unable to control it. The crash is considered a successful CRM due to the manner in which the crew members controlled the situation. The captain put in a lot of efforts for the plane to land despite lacking conventional flight controls. Their determinations saved the lives of many individuals that were in the plane. Efficient collaboration and dissemination of information by the captain and crew members enabled them to manage the situation well. Therefore, CRM training on proper communication and teamwork is vital to all aviation members.

Examples of Bad CRM

The first illustration of bad CRM occurred on 3rd September 1989 2045hour, when a VARIG airline flight RG 254 forcefully landed into a jungle near Sao Jose do Xingu, Brazil as a result of fuel exhaustion. The flight, a B737-241 departed from Maraba at 1725hour heading to Belem, Brazil. The scheduled flying time for the airliner was nearly 45mins. However, it was reported that the flight crew went into the flight computer 270 degrees instead of 027degrees. After flying for two hours, the captain eventually recognized that they were headed to a wrong destination. Adjustments were made aimed at flying the airliner back to its original intended route, but it was too late sine the plane was 600NM off course. Thereafter, fuel exhaustion ensued, which forced the plane to land in the jungle. The navigation error was not realized because the flight crews were reportedly busy listening to the World Cup Qualification Match between Brazil vs. Chile. In this illustration, it is evident that poor job management can contribute to an accident. If the pilots and other crew effectively manages to priories work priorities, such emergencies can be avoided. CRM training emphasizes on the crew members to adhere to the laid down procedures and to verify their work. Good leaders in aviation and provided by CRM ensure that workload is distributed to all member’s capacity to ensure effective performance. For instance, in this accident, if the captain would have ordered the co-pilot to verify programmed checks on the flight computer, the error would have been noticed and the accident averted. Also, disruptions like listening to radios is also prohibited. CRM training for crew members is important in evading such incidences, which enhances aviation’s safety.

The second illustration of bad CRM occurred in 1989 on a snowy winter afternoon when the flight members of Air Ontario Flight 1363 tried to leave Dryden, Ontario during the time that the plane wings had amassed lot of snow and ice. The accident took place because the plane was unable to obtain adequate lift to clear trees further than the end of the runaway. The plane burnt, leading to the death of pilots and passengers. The accident was caused by lack of information dissemination among the crew members. The first officer and the experienced pilot informed the lead pilot but he failed to take precaution. Poor communication also occurred when the flight attendant failed to tell the flight crew about passengers’ concern regarding contamination on the wings. CRM training knowledge could have enabled the lead pilot and the flight attendants to act accordingly and prevent the accident.

The third example of bad CRM happened in 1997 in a Korean Air 801 that was heading to Guam. Heavy rains at Guam reduced the visibility, making the crew members to try an instrument landing. However, the glideslope part of the instrument landing system for runway was not functioning. Irrespective of complains from the flight engineer that the sensed signal was not the glide-slope sign, the captain ignored and pressed on, making the plane to hit a rock and kill many people. Poor communication led to the accident, which could have been avoided. CRM training on effective communication and cooperation could have saved the situation.


Generally, safety is a fundamental concern in the aviation industry even. Moreover, human elements are of great importance in aviation. This is because most of the air accidents have been acknowledged to have been caused by pilot errors. With CRM application, several air accidents have been decreased as a result of the errors committed by man. The training and skill equipment provided by CRM is significant and permits all the aviation crew personnel to have an effective team-performance both in technical aptitude and interpersonal skills. The global CRM courses have become significant and similar in terms of content with several components of skills, for instance, communications, decision-making skills and team-building among many others. Through CRM knowledge acquired from its programs, blunders or errors in the aviation industry have greatly decrease thus enhancing safety in aviation. As a result of CRM training aimed at decreasing errors, specific airliners have been positively influenced by enhancing their profit as a result of customer’s confidence. CRM training globally has continued to develop intensely. This has enhanced the aviation industry to have a safe tag in all facets of the sector. Since humans are prone to faults in their natural form, CRM exploration will remain to be significant in transforming and advancing growth in the aviation industry as a way of minimizing the errors in human conduct so as move the aviation safety to great heights.


Helmreich, R. L., Merritt, A. C., & Wilhelm, J. A. (1999). The evolution of crew resource management training in commercial aviation. The international journal of aviation psychology9(1), 19-32.

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.

Pizzi, L., Goldfarb, N. I., & Nash, D. B. (2001). Crew resource management and its applications in medicine. Making health care safer: A critical analysis of patient safety practices44, 511-519.

Salas, E., Wilson, K. A., Burke, C. S., & Wightman, D. C. (2006). Does crew resource management training work? An update, an extension, and some critical needs. Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society48(2), 392-412.

Wagener, F., & Ison, D. C. (2014). Crew resource management application in commercial aviation. Journal of Aviation Technology and Engineering3(2), 2.