Crew Resource Management (CRM)

CRM aviation

Crew Resource Management Aviation or CRM Cockpit Resource Management is a result of the greatest contribution of psychology to the world of aviation. 

Applied psychology to many industries appeared in response to the demands of the great social and technological change that took place in the last decades of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, and aviation became one of the most interesting fields of application.

What is significant, as far as psychology is concerned, is that the researchers found that to be a good pilot it was not enough to have good dexterity at the controls of an aircraft. 

Ruffel Smith analyzed the behavior of different crews in a flight simulator, in both routine and emergencies, and showed that the better the crew’s use of resources and the more efficient the communication between its members, the better the performance. (Ruffel-Smith, 1979).

 In addition, various investigations enabled the identification of many indications for the subsequent creation of what we know today as a CRM training program.


 Crew Resource Management (CRM) Definition 

To understand the meaning of Crew Resource Management (CRM) Aviation, we need to understand the definition of Airmanship first "Airmanship is the Technical and non-technical Knowledge, Skills and Attitude that pilots need to ensure that aircraft are operated safely, efficiently, and effectively. 

This means Crew Resource Management (CRM) Aviation is the non-technical Knowledge only.

CRM originally called Cockpit Resource Management, CRM training emerged after the recognition that the technical skills of piloting an aircraft were insufficient to ensure safety and best performance; accidents were occurring for reasons other than inadequate piloting skills.

Crew Resource Management (CRM) Aviation can be defined as the optimal use, by an aircrew, of all available resources (information, material equipment, and human resources) for the achievement of safe and efficient flight operations (Lauber, 1984).

What are Human Factors Compared to Crew Resource Management?

Human Factors are everything that affects Human Performance daily such as " SHELL Model Components ". Furthermore, Human Factors are based on theoretical knowledge of aviation psychology.

While CRM is a concept that enables crew members to optimize the use of all resources available with the intention to make advances in human performance and reduce the impact of human error. Simply, CRM is the practical use of human factors theoretical knowledge during flight operation.


The Objective of Aviation Crew Resource Management (CRM)

The objective of the program is to combine technical and human skills (non-technical skills) to achieve safer and more efficient air operations.


The History of Aviation Crew Resource Management (CRM)

Crew Resource Management (CRM) can be traced to the early 1970s following a series of deadly accidents. Researchers discovered that it was not mechanical failure causing a vast majority of accidents but rather pilot/crew error.

The introduction of cockpit voice recorders (CVR) in the 1970s strongly suggested that non-technical operational elements (often called ‘human factors’) were contributing strongly to many accidents. CVR data, along with analyses of accident causation.

Eight years later, the crash of United Airlines Flight 173 in Portland, Oregon, in 1978 highlighted failures in Non-Technical Skills. Analysis of the cockpit voice recordings by the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that the plane had run out of fuel while the flight crew was troubleshooting a landing gear malfunction. 

A contributory factor was the captain’s failure to accept input from other flight crew members, as well as the lack of assertiveness from those crew members.

On June 7, 1979, NTSB issued its landmark recommendation to require “Cockpit” Resource Management training for airline crews. 

This was to cover interpersonal communication, leadership, and decision-making in the cockpit; and was intended to best manage all the resources available to pilots including other crew-members, procedures, the machine interface, and themselves (i.e. recognizing where they were most vulnerable and what their strengths were).

 Following this, United Airlines set up a CRM training course in 1981. By the 1990s, CRM training had become a global standard.

The Elements of Crew Resource Management (CRM)

There are many elements of Crew Resource Management (CRM) that aim to recognize, avoid, trap and manage threats and errors. In this article I will explain the popular 6 Crew Resource Management (CRM) elements:

1)      Communication

2)      Leadership

3)      Teamwork

4)      Workload Management

5)      Situation Awareness

6)      Planning & Decision Making


1) Communication

Skills for the exchange (transmission and reception) of information, ideas and feelings, by verbal communication (spoken, written) or non-verbal methods.

"The ability to understand and to be understood by others without any ambiguity"

2) Leadership

Skills for directing, monitoring, managing, and supporting a team to accomplish tasks for set targets.

" The ability to promote, to implicate and maintain the crew cooperation and take up its responsibilities"

3) Teamwork

Skills for working in a group, in any role, to ensure joint task completion; these include coordination, cooperation, and conflict resolution. Sometimes combined with the ‘Communication’ topic in CRM frameworks.

"Teamwork is the ability to work as a group toward a common vision, even if that vision becomes extremely blurry"

4) Workload Management

Workload management skills are important even if everything goes according to plan. In some cases, unexpected situations occur. Workload management skills prepare flight crew for unexpected situations and constantly evaluate the best course of action if something should happen.

" Get priorities straight, organize task sharing and task interruptions according to the available resources and the situation"

5) Situation Awareness

Developing and maintaining a dynamic awareness of the situation and the risks present in an activity, based on gathering information from multiple sources from the task environment, understanding what the information means, and using it to think ahead about what may happen next.

"Knowing and understanding the condition, the situation and the environment of the aircraft, the condition of the crew and the impact these elements will have on the flight"

6) Planning & Decision Making

The central aim of CRM is to ensure that high-quality decisions are taken across the whole spectrum of flight operations. 

In this context, thorough pre-flight planning will not only provide a yardstick against which in-flight decisions can be made but will also allow all members of the crew to manage successfully their specific areas of responsibility.

Understanding the plan also allows individual crew members to contribute in the most effective way to decisions made in flight.

" Skills for diagnosing the situation and reaching a judgment to choose an appropriate decision-making strategy of how to break the chain of error"


Crew Resource Management (CRM) Training

Generally, Crew Resource Management (CRM) is a global training program standard that includes different modules that address key concepts based on a design that includes three major areas of work: Command (direction, communication processes , and decision making), leadership (management, work climate, and team organization) and resource management (management of resources, workload, and situation Awareness) in critical situations.

Crew Resource Management (CRM) training concepts have been modified for application to a wide range of activities (other than aviation) where people must make dangerous time-critical decisions. These arenas include air traffic control, ship handling, firefighting, and medical operating rooms.



What if you were piloting an aircraft full of passengers and suddenly ran out of fuel? How would you go about making the decision about what to do first, next, and, if none of these efforts solved the problem you’re facing, then what? This type of situation is so out of the ordinary, fortunately, that few people have experienced it, but such emergencies can and do happen. Thanks to a program called crew resource management, or CRM, decision-makers can learn how to handle them.

The best example of CRM in use may be the safe landing on January 15, 2009, of U.S. Airways flight 1549 by Captain Chesley (Sully) Sullenberger in New York’s Hudson River. Hitting a flock of geese on takeoff from New York’s LaGuardia Airport completely shut down both engines on his Airbus A320. 

With more than 19,000 hours of flight time, including flying gliders, Captain Sullenberger’s experience, and training helped prepare him for the once-in-a-lifetime decision he faced.

You know what Captain Chesley (Sully) said after that accident: “I was sure I could do it. I think, in many ways, as it turned out, my entire life up to that moment had been a preparation to handle that particular moment.” Jerry Mulenburg in his article said that "Captain Sullenberger mentioned that he owed a lot to the CRM training he went through".

 you may like to read " Pear Module human factor?"

Further reading:

-           Flight-crew human factors handbook, CAP 737, UK Civil Aviation Authority.

-           ICAO DOC 10002, Cabin Crew Safety Training Manual.

-           Human Factors in Aviation: CRM (Crew Resource Management) , Daniel Muñoz-Marrón.

-           Crew Resource Management, A Paper by The CRM Standing Group of The ROYAL Aeronautical Society.

-           Crew Resource Management Improves Decision Making, By JERRy MULENBURG.

-           What is Human Factors Compared to Crew Resource Management?, International Journal on Marine Navigation and Safety of Sea Transportation, BY G.K. Fahlgren Human Communication HB, Sigtuna, Sweden.

-           Flight Operations Safety Awareness Seminar (FOSAS), Human Factors (HF) and Crew Resource Management (CRM), Airbus.

-           Non-Technical Skills (“Crew Resource Management”), Human Factors 101 website.



Maged Saeed AL-Hadabi

I’m Instructor / Maged Saeed Al-Hadabi. ​ Air Cargo / IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations / Safety Management System Senior Instructor, Auditor [ Yemen Airways] . Approved IATA DGR/ SMS Instructor by Yemen Civil Aviation Authority.

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