The recent revision (120-51E, dated 1/22/04) to the Crew Resource Management Training Advisory Circular failed to provide a specific definition of CRM. This void is an issue with those who agree with Montaigne when he observed “No wind favors the sailing ship without a destined port.” Since its inception over twenty five years ago, CRM has undergone considerable evolution and the industry now finds itself in the seventh or eighth “Generation” of CRM training. Interestingly, in the very first Advisory Circular (120-51A) the following statement was made: “The essence of CRM training is to reduce error in the cockpit.” In spite of that specific focus, during the last quarter of a century, CRM training has been whatever the program developer wanted it to be and the result has included such diverse subjects as Post Traumatic Stress, Security, Unruly Passengers, Scheduling Issues, and Uniform Codes. The original definition of CRM as “The effective utilization of all available resources including liveware, hardware and software, to achieve safe and efficient flight operations.” was a worthy “goal” which unfortunately was more theoretical than practical; and no doubt contributed to why the current AC has no specific definition. Safety and efficiency do not always go hand in hand and therein lies the rub. It is time the industry put the practical side of the issue first and then back that up with theory. With that in mind, I make the observation that the industry has failed abysmally to take advantage of the huge resource of line pilot experience. Line pilots who achieves tens of thousands of hours accident and incident free has developed their own “bag of tricks” to stay out of trouble. Academicians, management pilots, and even union members, do NOT adequately represent the line pilot. With that in mind, I offer the following NEW and specific definition of CRM: “Cockpit Resource Management is the comprehensive utilization of all available resources including people, equipment and procedures, to attempt to get the job done correctly while staying out of trouble.” There are an infinite number of ways to do this and each annual recurrent training should address some of those techniques. GAIN, ASAP, Line Pilot Reports, FAA violations, Accident and Incident Reports, and the ASRS reporting system are all excellent starting point to gather these techniques. Too much of that data is simply NOT making it to the cockpit. The industry must come to grips with the fact that with each new technological improvement, each new aircraft design and each now operational improvement, more challenges are being faced by the line pilot and CRM training is one way to aid the line pilot in coping with these challenges. Consequently, CRM training remains a journey and NOT a destination.
Komich, J. N.
(2005). Redefining CRM. 2005 International Symposium on Aviation Psychology, 410-413.