6). In crisis scenarios, a team holds the same objectives. Even when individual crew members have specific roles, responsibilities, and duties the entire cockpit works together as a whole. A collective response to a crisis will be better timed than a response executed by the same number of single-minded individuals. Collective action by a team ensures coordination of behaviors and effective emergency management. Teamwork also encourages crew members to throw aside interpersonal conflicts when a crisis arises and instead place the best interests of the team above personal pride. Technical expertise and years of experience cannot make up for a lack of cooperation.
Task allocation might take place on the fly, as crew members address unforeseen circumstances by assigning duties to flight crew who might not be fully prepared for them. However, task allocation is directly related to a crew member's professional title, role within the organization, and overt descriptions of job duties. In a crisis scenario, task allocation may require team members to perform duties they might not have performed otherwise but in general, crew members will have tasks assigned to them based on their areas of expertise. Crew resource management may depend on frequent drills that enhance effective task allocation in a crisis. The FAA (2004) recommends that cockpit and cabin crew working together regularly perform drills and training together.
Crew resource management depends on effective decision-making, often decisions made quickly. Once situation awareness is established and honed, and once teamwork is ensured via effective task allocation, the cockpit must face the difficult decisions that can help save the lives of every person on the plane. Decision-making therefore begins with awareness: knowledge and understanding of the situation and what actions are required to remedy a problem or bring about a desired outcome. Effective decisions depend on a strong command of standard operating procedures and knowledge of flight equipment. Decision-making in emergency situations also requires a keen sense of timing: of when to act as well as how. Timing often but not always implies quick reflexes. Sometimes crew members need more patience than haste to ensure a desired outcome.
Power and authority are hugely important to crew resource management. Aviation organizations that promote an egalitarian culture are likely to experience more effective crew resource management outcomes because CRM depends so much on teamwork and communications. Authoritarian attitudes do not work as well in a cockpit setting as they might elsewhere, which makes CRM difficult for traditionally-trained personnel or personnel from cultures that emphasize social hierarchies and deference to authority. Moreover, CRM entails openness and flexibility, qualities essential to manage crises. Traditional modes of training flight personnel do not stress flexibility as much as rigid ascription to rules and regulations. In a crisis scenario, cockpit and flight personnel must follow standard operating procedures but not without keeping first in mind the immediate needs of the situation.
Communications within the cockpit and between the cockpit and cabin ensure smooth functioning in a crisis scenario and also in everyday situations. The slightest problem can create interpersonal conflicts in the closed, confining environment of an airplane. Therefore, crew members should always take care to have compassion for their fellow workers who are experiencing unusual levels of stress. An empathetic approach to crew members will help ease tensions and avert escalations of strife. Similarly, pilot errors are unavoidable and "cannot be entirely eliminated," (FAA 2004). Because of the human factor in flying, CRM training often includes error management too. Pilots need to detect and correct errors with the help of a supportive crew. Crew resource management implies a non-judgmental environment in the cockpit that eliminates clashes of ego based on power hierarchies.
American Psychological Association. Making Air Travel Safer Through Crew Resource Management (CRM). Retrieved June 27, 2008 at http://www.psychologymatters.org/crm.html
FAA (2004). Crew resource management training. Retrieved June 27, 2008 at http://www.airweb.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgAdvisoryCircular.nsf/0/80038cf51aace53686256e24005cbb23/$FILE/AC120-51e.pdf
Helmreich, R.L., Merritt, a.C. & Wilhelm, J.A. (1999). The evolution of crew resource management training in commercial aviation. International Journal of Aviation Psychology, 9(1), 19-32. Retrieved June 27, 2008 at http://homepage.psy.utexas.edu/homepage/group/HelmreichLAB/Publications/pubfiles/Pub235.pdf
Schultz, J. (2002). Hear What They're Saying: The Influence of Culture on Cockpit Communication. Quest. 2002, Vol. 5, Issue 1. Retrieved June 27, 2008 at http://www.odu.edu/ao/instadv/quest/cockpitcommun.html