Crew Resource Management


  • Crew Resource Management (CRM) is the process of coordinated action among flight and ground crew members enabling effective interaction while performing flight and ground tasks
  • According to the NTSB, 50-80% of all mishaps involve pilot error as a result of poor Aeronautical Decision-Making [Figure 1]
  • While professional pilots will often fly with a crew-concept, most General Aviation pilots will not, leading to the development of Single-Pilot Resource Management (SRM)
    • As termed by the FAA, is still CRM because you have resources out there to help you such as Air Traffic Controllers, Flight Service Stations, base frequencies, and other pilots
      • Regardless of how many people are in the aircraft, these tools are always available and should be utilized as appropriate
      • Good crew coordination can increase effectiveness, maximize resources, and optimize risk management

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Human Resources:

  • Human resources include everyone routinely working with the pilot to ensure flight safety
    • Weather briefers, flight line personnel, maintenance personnel, crew members, pilots, and air traffic personnel
  • This is accomplished by using the key components of the communication process: inquiry, advocacy, and assertion
  • Pilots must recognize the need to seek enough information from these resources to make a valid decision
  • After the necessary information has been gathered, the pilot's decision must be passed on to those concerned, such as air traffic controllers, crew members, and passengers
  • The pilot may have to request assistance from others and be assertive to safely resolve some situations


  • Equipment in many of today's aircraft includes automated flight and navigation systems
  • These automatic systems, while providing relief from many routine flight deck tasks, present a different set of problems for pilots
  • The automation intended to reduce pilot workload essentially removes the pilot from the process of managing the aircraft, thereby reducing situational awareness, leading to complacency
  • Information from these systems needs to be continually monitored to ensure proper situational awareness
  • Pilots should be thoroughly familiar with the operation of and information provided by all systems used
  • It is essential that pilots be aware not only of equipment capabilities, but also equipment limitations in order to manage those systems effectively and safely

Information Workload:

  • Information workloads and automated systems, such as autopilots, need to be properly managed to ensure a safe flight
  • The pilot flying in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) is faced with many tasks, each with a different level of importance to the outcome of the flight
    • Example: a pilot preparing to execute an instrument approach to an airport needs to review the approach chart, prepare the aircraft for the approach and landing, complete checklists, obtain information from Automatic Terminal Information Service (ATIS) or Air Traffic Control (ATC), and set the navigation radios and equipment
  • The pilot who effectively manages his or her workload will complete as many of these tasks as early as possible to preclude the possibility of becoming overloaded by last minute changes and communication priorities in the later, more critical stages of the approach
  • Routine tasks delayed until the last minute can contribute to the pilot becoming overloaded and stressed, resulting in erosion of performance
  • Effective resource management includes recognizing hazardous situations and attitudes, decision-making to promote good judgment and headwork, and managing the situation to ensure the safe outcome of the flight

Task Management:

  • Instrument Flying Handbook, The Margin of Safety
    Instrument Flying Handbook, The Margin of Safety
  • Instrument Flying Handbook, The Margin of Safety
    Instrument Flying Handbook, The Margin of Safety
  • Pilots have a limited capacity for information
  • Once information flow exceeds the pilot's ability to mentally process the information any additional information will become unattended or displace other tasks and information already being processed
  • This is termed channel capacity and once reached only two alternatives exist:
    • Shed the unimportant tasks, or
    • Perform all tasks at a less than optimal level
  • Like an electrical circuit being overloaded, either the consumption must be reduced or a circuit failure is experienced
  • The pilot who effectively manages the tasks and properly prioritizes them will have a successful flight
    • This unnecessary focus displaces capability and prevents the pilot's ability to appreciate tasks of greater importance
    • Example: do not become distracted and fixate on an instrument light failure (Eastern Airlines Flight 401)
  • Routine checklists should be accomplished as Do/Verify or Challenge/Response if single-piloted/crew operations
    • Work toward flows, but always go back to the checklist
    • Read/Do methodologies should be reserved for abnormal checklists such as emergency procedures

Skills and Behaviors:

  • Mnemonics:
    • DAMCLAS ("Damn Class")
    • SADCLAM ("Sad Clam")
    • MCSALAD ("McSalad")
  • Decision-Making:

    • Ability to use logical and sound judgment based on information available
    • Effective decisions can be made by:
      • Assessing the problem
      • Verifying information
      • Identifying solutions
      • Anticipating consequences of decisions
      • Telling others of the decision and rationale
      • Evaluating the decision
    • Improved through teamwork, extra time, alert crew, decision strategies and experience
  • Assertiveness:

    • Willingness to actively participate
    • Ability to state and maintain position
      • Provide info without being asked
      • Make suggestions
      • Ask questions
      • Confront ambiguities
      • Maintain position when challenged
      • State opinions
      • Refuse unreasonable request
      • Accept the most conservative response to the situation until more information is available
    • Two challenge rule:
      • If the pilot does not respond to two demands (i.e. "wave-off, wave-off!") take the controls
      • Avoid the sandbag syndrome and speak up when necessary
    • Sandbag Syndrome:
      • Comfort feeling that the other crew member has the situation under control
      • No pilot is above the momentary lapse of judgment or situational awareness
      • Stay alert and speak up when necessary
  • Mission Analysis:

    • Ability to coordinate, allocate, and monitor crew and aircraft resources
    • Organize and plan for what will occur
    • Monitor the situation
    • Review and provide feedback of what has occurred
  • Communication:

    • Ability to clearly and accurately send and acknowledge information, instructions, commands, feedback
    • Important to: conduct effective missions, avoid mishaps, pass info, maintain situational awareness
    • Sender: Communicate clearly, convey info accurately, concisely, timely, request verification or feedback, verbalize plans
    • Receiver: Acknowledge communication, repeat, paraphrase, clarify info, provide useful feedback
  • Leadership:

    • Ability to direct and coordinate activities of crew, and stimulate them to work as a team
      • Direct and coordinate crew
      • Delegate tasks
      • Ensure crew understands expectations
      • Focus attention on crucial aspects
      • Keep crew informed of mission information
      • Provide feedback on performance
      • Create and maintain professional atmosphere
  • Adaptability/Flexibility:

    • Ability to alter a course of action to meet situation demands
      • Alter Behavior
      • Be open and receptive
      • Help others
      • Maintain constructive behavior under pressure
      • Adapt to internal and external changes
    • Adaptability is required when transitions occur, a crew-member is incapacitated or when interactions are strained
  • Situational Awareness:

    • What is happening in the cockpit and mission?
      • Detect and comment on deviations
      • Provide advance info, identify potential problems
      • Demonstrate awareness of task performance and mission status
    • Prepare through a comprehensive brief
    • Acknowledge potential problems
    • Use all information sources and update and revise your flight image
    • Situational awareness is critical in our ability to respond effectively
    • Combat loss of Situational Awareness by:
      • Actively questioning and evaluating your mission progress
      • Use assertive behaviors when necessary
    • Analyze your situation and Communicate!

Single-Pilot Resource Management:

  • While CRM focuses on pilots operating in crew environments, many of the concepts apply to single-pilot operations
  • SRM is defined as the art and science of managing all the resources (both on-board the aircraft and from outside sources) available to a single pilot (prior to and during flight) to ensure the successful outcome of the flight. SRM includes the concepts of ADM, risk management (RM), task management (TM), automation management (AM), controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) awareness, and situational awareness (SA)
    • SRM training helps the pilot maintain situational awareness by managing the automation and associated aircraft control and navigation tasks
    • This enables the pilot to accurately assess and manage risk and make accurate and timely decisions
    • SRM is all about helping pilots learn how to gather information, analyze it, and make decisions
    • Although the flight is coordinated by a single person and not an onboard flight crew, the use of available resources such as auto-pilot and air traffic control (ATC) replicates the principles of CRM
  • Single-Pilot Resource Management (SRM) is about how to gather information, analyze it, and make decisions
    • Learning how to identify problems, analyze the information, and make informed and timely decisions is not as straight forward as the training involved in learning specific maneuvers
  • Learning how to judge a situation and "how to think" in the endless variety of situations encountered while flying out in the "real world" is more difficult
  • There is no one right answer in ADM, rather each pilot is expected to analyze each situation in light of experience level, personal minimums, and current physical and mental readiness level, and make his or her own decision


  • CRM enables the use of all available resources and communications to provide safe operations through systematic collaboration
  • The success or failure of CRM rests ultimately with each individual performing duties as aircrew
    • Maintain sterile cockpit as appropriate, practice cockpit management, question the unusual, and listen-don't anticipate
  • Optimal CRM training is integrated, research-based, and skill-oriented, incorporating the Information, Demonstration, Practice, and Feedback Methodology
  • Aircrew shall exhibit thorough knowledge of self, aircraft, team, environment, the seven critical skills, and risk to employ sound and logical judgment in the prevention of human errors
  • When moving flaps or gear, it is always recommended to use a challenge and response method whereby the pilot flying says "flaps identified" and the pilot not flying says "flaps verified" to verify the pilot flying is touching the flap lever and about to move the flaps, or in the case of gear, the gear
  • Human error is the leading causal factor in aviation mishaps
  • Additional human error-based training should complement CRM training
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