Crew resource management is a concept that has developed in managing of aircraft operations especially in ensuring that there is proper decision making concerning operations on the aircraft and the crews involved (Hughes et al., 2014). Crew resource management (CRM) evolved from cockpit resource management, which encompassed the inclusion of business, directed concepts in making decisions that would enhance the safety of the airlines in place. At the time, especially in the 1970s, there were a high number of accidents caused by human factors. Most of the human factors were errors made by the cabin crew and which contributed too many incidents involving the aircraft at the time (Wei et al., 2012).
The decision-making concept was further expanded to include the cabin crews, which was far from what was practiced before since most decisions made were psychologically based and involved the senior crews, especially pilots. Most aircraft crew nowadays has to undergo crew resource management training which has phenomenally increased the safety of aircraft. The crew usually attain to various skills that are associated with Crew Resource Management and thus increase the probability of safety on the airlines. Technical proficiency is further enhanced when merged with efficient resource management. Since most of the aircraft need sufficient technical checkups by the crew, it is important to consider CRM training in addition to the technical expertise of the crew. Most if not all the casualties in the world war ii were caused by human factors that included the respective crews of the aircraft (Larson & Nance, 2011).
In the aircraft that uses single pilot cockpit like helicopters, many disagree on the use of CRM training. The CRM concept has often been associated with multiple pilots’ cabin crews, and, therefore, most people do not think that tit should be applied to single pilots since they have fewer resources available to them on the aircraft. CRM stresses on the buildup of interpersonal relationships among the crew to enhance group dynamics. The training among the plane crew usually involves particular critical areas like stress management, communication skills, situational awareness, workload management, planning and preparation, and decision-making. For a single pilot operator, the CRM concepts should be carried out in a different manner so that they are specific to the particular situation.
From the above concepts, CRM can be defined as the efficient usage of all the resources at the disposal of the pilot. CRM management is more vital in instances of single pilots than in multi-crew pilot cabins. In the single cockpit, the pilots cannot depend on the checks and balances offered by the cabin crew and as a result, should depend on their level of expertise and training (Bowers & Cannon-Bowers, 2014). As such, a single cockpit pilot should focus more on dealing with every area of handling the aircraft as opposed to the multi cabin crew in airlines.
The federal aviation authority of the United States agrees to the various components of CRM (Kinnison & Siddiqui, 2012). The first observation is that Crew Resource Management comprehensively utilizes concepts about human factors to increase performance. Secondly, human factors deal with bringing out the best in the participation of persons and reducing errors that may occur thereby. Thirdly, CRM is inclusive of all the personnel associated with the aircraft. Fourthly, CRM can be used together with other training. Fifthly, CRM focusses on the dispositions and attitudes and how they affect safety. Fifthly, the success of the training carried out by the crew depends on the supervisors, instructors and aviators who are particularly proficient in CRM. Sixthly, CRM training should gain more support from the management to ensure that is positively received by the operations personnel. Furthermore, the CRM should be relevant to the needs and nature of the operation. Moreover, CRM should be part of the culture of an organization.
A single pilot crews, requires more teamwork from the crew, which is mostly ground based. As such, more use of human resources should be included to work efficiently and help to increase the safety of operations involving the pilot. With proper cooperation comes leadership, and as a result, the pilot should be in a better position to control the various situations while working together with the human resources available on the ground to achieve the ultimate target of flying the aircraft safely to its destination. The human resources include maintenance personnel, medical attendants, dispatchers, management and other personnel to name a few. Teamwork is an important part of CRM as it helps to ensure that information is transferred in a precise manner to the pilot and thus enhance the safety of the operations on the helicopter (Hagemann et al., 2012). Most of the accidents occur because of a lack of information that would have been vital in preventing the accidents. As such, the different crews involving single pilots and the crew members have different assignments that they should fulfill to enhance the performance of the pilot and the safety of the aircraft. Teamwork should, therefore, start with the management and be emphasized among the crews.
Communication skills are an important part of Crew Resource Management that are inculcated in the crews through training. Any misunderstanding between the pilot and the crew has constantly been the cause of many accidents involving aircraft. Teamwork is enhanced when there is effective communication. Pilots, as a result, improve on the safety of aircraft by learning to process information, being emphatic and overcoming obstructions at particular times (Rashid et al., 2013). Therefore, the communication skills greatly help the pilot to deal with the control Centre efficiently and the crew on board to ensure that there is no miscommunication that can cause avoidable incidents and accidents. It is crucial to ensure that the communication skills of the pilot are enhanced through the Crew Resource Management, which increases the ability of the pilot to use the fewer resources that he has through communication and thus effectively maintaining the safety of operations of the aircraft.
Decision-making is another important part of CRM about single pilot aircraft. Most of the time the single pilot has to make decisions with very few members of the cabin crew (Bennet, 2010). The few resources may still be effective especially when the pilot correctly seeks more information that is relevant to making the correct decisions. The single pilots mostly error especially when they think that they are alone. The resources available to the individual pilots are many and include passengers and medical crews on board the aircraft, sensations and aircraft gauges, personnel that are reachable by radio, documentations available to the pilot and support staff on the ground. For the efficient use of resources, the single pilot should have knowledge of their existence and know how to utilize them while having an understanding of their limitations (Johnson et al., 2012). The crucial part is to ask for assistance from other resources like pilots. Therefore, pilots may need the help of passengers especially in reading a manual to deal with a particularly new situation that they have never experienced while flying a helicopter. Therefore, the pilot should ensure that he knows the necessary resources available to him and thus use them to ensure that efficiently and safety of operations of the aircraft is maintained.
Workload management is important to the single pilot who has fewer resources at hand when compared to multi-pilot crews. Workload management enables the single pilot to maximize on the use of the fewer resources and prioritize the various tasks. The pilot should thus be able to prioritize on the utilization of the minimal resources while at the same time flying the aircraft without distraction and, therefore, he needs to have more practice and training to be proficient in prioritizing (Mavin & Murray, 2010). The prioritization will reduce any stress that may occur due to lack of information or knowledge on what to do in certain situations. The pilot, as a result, should obtain assistance from the various resources available to him like the dispatcher company, using the autopilot when necessary or including the medical personnel on the aircraft. The support from other resources helps in the efficient handling of the plane and thus helps the pilot greatly deal with the workload more quickly. Decision-making process by the pilot improves further when he consults and thus reduces his workload in the end (Shappell & Wiegmann, 2012).
Situational awareness is further an important concept of Crew Resource Management that is essential to the situation of a single pilot. It is the ability of the single pilot to distinguish clearly the various factors that affect the crew and the aircraft at a particular time. Simply put the pilot knows his or her surroundings. Most helicopters operate below 10000 feet, which is considered dangerous by aircraft crews. As such in such dangerous environments, the pilots has to maintain high perception to ensure that he understands his surroundings well and may switch to automation options like autopilot whenever there is the need (Durso & Alexander, 2010). Many helicopter accidents can be avoided especially when the pilot is more vigilant. Takeoff and landings near airports require maximum vigilance to avoid collisions, which have been the cause of many helicopter accidents. Therefore, the pilot’s attention should be directed towards steering of various hazards by increasing observations that will ensure that safety is assured.
Preparation is a significant part of a single pilot’s operations of the aircraft. The single pilot usually has many preparations to carry out with very little assistance. The single pilot has to fix positions and deal with the checklists among other operations while maintaining the safety of the aircraft (Kanki & Palmer, 2010). As such, the pilot has to have firsthand information that will help him during such exercises. The proper organization of the cockpit of a single pilot is important in ensuring that the pilot maximizes on the fewer resources available.
Cockpit distractions arise most frequently because pilots can be distracted in one instance that can eventually cause an accident. Humans are prone to distractions, which have been a major cause of accidents involving aircraft. Therefore, some tasks in the cockpit can cause a distraction to the pilot, which can further interrupt and hinder on how the pilot deals with other tasks that are routine and important (Gibb et al., 2011). Therefore, a single pilot should focus on the crucial takes needed to fly the helicopter safely to ensure that other distractions do not interrupt their performance. Some of the distractions include fatigue, announcements, paperwork, malfunctions, checklist, traffic watch, radar monitoring, and communication with the control center.
The pilot, as a result, is trained on how to manage the various operations in the cabin to ensure that he or she does not deviate from the primary task of flying while engaging in any of the other tasks. For example, the pilot can use autopilot mode when doing tests such as paperwork or announcements among other tasks that may distract him while flying the helicopter. Therefore, the training produces a multitasked pilot who can tactfully operate the helicopter to ensure that safety and efficiency of operations of the aircraft are sustained.
Management of Stress
Stress management is vital especially in the scenarios of single pilots. Detecting stress is difficult especially in the single pilot phenomenon where there is little assistance from the resources available. Therefore, single pilots, as a result, should focus on constant communication with the crew to detect any stress factors associated with his or her private life or work environment. Stress is hazardous to the decision-making and judgment of the single pilot as it reduces the attention of the pilot towards the primary function of flying the helicopter safely (LeSarge et al., 2010). Therefore, the pilot should be conversant with such issues that may increase his stress level, and the crew should thus help especially when they note any stressful tone emanating from constant communication with the pilot. The CRM training is essential as it helps the crews to ensure that they tackle the stressful conditions appropriately to prevent catastrophic results.
Therefore, CRM comes in handy in single pilot occasions especially in the flying of helicopters to ensure that safety is enhanced (Ballard, 2014). CRM helps the pilot to use the few resources available to him or her in a way that will ensure that operations are safely done and to ensure that human errors, which are the cause of many accidents, are lessened. It is, therefore, important to ensure that the various crews and single pilots are conversant with crew resource management to increase the effectiveness of flight operations in helicopters.