The need for speed? How slowness has a value all of its own.

Human exploits in aviation have always been closely linked to our fascination for speed. We admire speed in its many guises and it remains a marker of achievement in almost any field you care to think of. In aviation, just as in many other walks of life, we often assume the faster the better. We associate speed with competence. But what if we could disassociate the idea of slowness with incompetence? What if instructors were made to teach the opposite? What if we came to associate a slow response with higher skill levels and greater professionalism?

Developing resilience to startle and surprise in helicopter operations

Also published in AirMed&Rescue April 2022 edition.

What should startle and surprise training mean in an applied sense and how should we be approaching it? Do the differences between airline transport flight profiles and helicopter operations mean that we should be looking critically at how to approach the startle and surprise from a rotary wing perspective? Is it as significant a hazard in the low level, high workload, high obstacle environment in which helicopter crews spend much of their time?

The automation explosion: examining the human factor fallout

Also published in AirMed&Rescue, Nov 2021 edition.

Automation reduces workload, frees attentional resources to focus on other tasks, and is capable of flying the aircraft more accurately than any of us. It is simultaneously a terrible master that exposes many human limitations and appeals to many human weaknesses. As we have bid to reduce crew workload across many different tasks and increase situational awareness with tools including GPS navigation on moving maps, synthetic terrain displays, and ground proximity warning systems, we have also opened a Pandora’s Box of human factors to bring us back down to the ground with a bump. Sometimes literally.

Distributed Situation Awareness

Pretty much everyone in aviation is familiar with the concept of situation awareness. But as research interest in SA grew, the concept expanded from the individual level to how SA might apply in the context of larger and more complex systems. What does distributed SA actually mean? The idea is that SA is held by both human and non-human agents. Myriad technological artefacts within a system also hold some form of SA. Now if, like me, you initially struggle with the idea that an artefact (such as a radio, or altimeter) can have ‘awareness’, then bear with me…

Developing Competency in Problem-Solving and Decision Making: The importance of Process vs Outcome.

Separating the quality of a decision from the quality of the processes which lead to a decision being made sounds like it should be straight-forward, but it isn’t. This is especially true if we judge a decision to be a bad one, or a wrong one, when our negative perception of the choice can easily overwhelm what could have been a perfectly acceptable, collaborative, and well-communicated thought process.

The distinction between the quality of the decision-making process and the decision itself is an important one to make in the context of training for competency because although we won’t always make the right, or the best, decisions in any given situation, the ability to develop and improve our decision-making processes, is what competency-based training is all about.

Competency based training. By trying to solve one training problem are we creating another?

At the beginning of this month I tuned in to the Royal Aeronautical Society’s webinar titled, Flight Crew Competence; Assessing what and how? The webinar aimed to address the concept of Evidence Based Training and Competency Based Training (EBT/CBT) and consider the impact it has had on the experience of instructors, examiners and trainees. TheContinue reading “Competency based training. By trying to solve one training problem are we creating another?”

Crew Resource Management Training from Classroom to Cockpit. Are we missing a link?

When preparing for a trip to the simulator most of us start by reaching for the emergency and abnormal checklist to refresh ourselves on the inevitable bevvy of aircraft malfunctions that we know will be coming our way in due course. Who hasn’t come across that sim instructor who feels it would be a derelictionContinue reading “Crew Resource Management Training from Classroom to Cockpit. Are we missing a link?”

Can a fatal accident provide proof that CRM training does save lives?

On July the 4th last year an AW139 departing from Big Grand Cay in the Bahamas at night hit the water shortly after take off killing all on board. The US National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) has just released the transcript from the cockpit voice recorder carried on board. Perhaps the most shocking part ofContinue reading “Can a fatal accident provide proof that CRM training does save lives?”

Crew Resource Management: Is it time to rethink our approach?

Let’s not beat around the bush, Crew Resource Management has an image problem. For many, CRM training means little more than a day in the classroom which generally inspires at best a resigned ambivalence. CRM has an image problem… Perhaps, there has been a failure to attempt to define CRM for what it really is.Continue reading “Crew Resource Management: Is it time to rethink our approach?”

What delivering two years of CRM training has taught me.

Something over two years ago I decided I would throw my hand in at applying to be a CRM Trainer and Human Factors Facilitator. CRM had never really been my thing. My experience of Human Factors/CRM training up to that point was that ‘facilitators’ tend to be either evangelical to the extent that their fervourContinue reading “What delivering two years of CRM training has taught me.”

EBT & ATQP…What now for CRM?

  Let’s start by unravelling that jumble of acronyms: EBT – Evidence Based Training ATPQ – Alternative Training and Qualification Programme CRM – Crew (Cockpit) (Complete) Resource Management What is Evidence Based Training? EBT is a shift in philosophy away from traditional, prescriptive training and checking methods in which, for example, you repeat the setContinue reading “EBT & ATQP…What now for CRM?”