TLA´s (three Letter Abbreviations) are a must in aviation. ACT is useful one which can remind us of different Airmanship tools. For instance it describes why we ACT like we do, which is based on our Attitude which is based on our Culture which is based on our Traditions, i.e. how we do things in this group. Man (including woman) is a flock animal, we are closely connected to and at large we do follow the behavior of the others in the group, what the others do, we do. To change undesirable culture in any aviation organization is difficult and it will take time.

Another ACT interpretation is: Attitude – Configuration – Thrust, which is the checklist if you are in an unusual attitude or loss of control situation. The first thing is to straighten the aircraft, then check the settings of flaps, gear, etc. and then apply the necessary thrust to get out of the situation. Everything needs to be done quickly and all three needs to be ACTivated for the best possible outcome.

Authority Gradient

The previous post is presenting the basics of CRM, i.e. how we can have a network of «collaborators» helping us to be on the right track and do the right things. In todays aviation the authority gradient has hence flattened out to provide for an open and «fearless» communication between all the stakeholders in Safe Operations of aircrafts. The authority gradient is an indicator of how well communication and decisions are performed among the people involved regardless of rank and status. A steep authority gradient (think of a ladder) means that it is difficult to even communicate with the captain, hence to achieve a more redundant safety environment when operating an aircraft. So why don´t we remove the authority gradient and flatten it to a «ballroom floor», i.e. the decisions are made and executed by votes. I have actually experienced that such ideas have been introduced and that is bringing it too far. The final decision is always the responsibility of the captain who are legally responsible according to aviation law. Someone has to be the final authority and that is the captain.

CRM, Crew Resource Management – 5+ Stages

CRM 1: Cockpit Resource Management was the first step. It meant that the cockpit crew, Captain, Copilot, third Pilot/ relief Pilot and Flight Engineer was a team and everyone should participate to make the flight safe.

My first years in an airline was based on the authority of the captain, his will, decision and attitude. A copilot was an assistant, servant and trainee to become a captain. The training was to observe the captain´s management, skills and attitude, which no common leads to culture, but rather free spirits who should follow the manuals of course, but with their own interpretations. Most of the Captains were well qualified with the right attitude and great mentors for a new copilot. I would say detrimental in qualifying to be a STOL captain in the Himalayas.

However, there were a few “rotten apples» with an attitude and behavior which in my opinion, should never have been captains. Others did not subscribe to the principle of CRM in the beginning, which made them vulnerable with regards to faults. I remember one copilot who had the courage to tell the captain he was on the wrong «track». The captain replied with the classic phrase «Who is the Captain here?, we are on the right track (cause I say so)». The copilot´s reply was simply «Ok, I accept that you are right, and you can sit there and be wrong!» Hilarious and a wake-up call for the importance of CRM. The captain accepted the «wake-up call».

CRM 2: Crew Resource Management. The next step was to understand that every crew member onboard the aircraft is a resource who can contribute to improved safety when flying. There was a time when cabin personnel would be reluctant to communicate possible errors and risks to the cockpit crew. One sample is snow and ice on the wings or fumes outside or inside the aircraft. Today it is not only expected but a part of their duty to be a part of the CRM.

CRM 3: Company Resource Management. This step is simply that not only crew members can and shall contribute to safety through alertness and reporting potential safety risks. This requires a just culture instead of a blame culture.

CRM 4.1: Community Resource Management. This address each member of the aviation community to contribute to higher safety standards through sharing, communicating and promoting safety issues and standards.

CRM 4.2: Community Resource Management. The second step is to involve the customers, the users of the the aviation community´s services. Their view and observations can be of great value to improve safety as well as the commercial aspects.

CRM 4.3: Community Resource Management. Ad the whole community which is directly and indirectly affected by the aviation activities and we are reaching a fifth level which is:

CRM 5: Complete Resources Management. Every one onboard, everyone on ground involved.

Regards Stein Arne Fossum (retired captain)

Enough Rules & Regulations?

Aviation rules and regulations has been along as long as aviation itself. But it has changed especially in volume and details. Today most of Europe are «ruled» by EASA. The regulations are comprehensive to put it mildly. A few years back I was on an annual EASA helicopter conference in Cologne and one of the speakers with years of experience finally said it: «We might have too many rules». He openly said that todays quest for more rules, more regulations might not contribute to better safety. It is just too much for anybody to have oversight and to follow all these rules at all times. To that extent we often hear that no flight happens without a violation of some of the regulations. I believe a part of the problem is that one do not use more resources on fostering higher safety standards through attitude and culture, skill, knowledge and trust to the airmen.

Captain Stein Arne Fossum, Retired