Pilot and student pilot community. Share your pilot lessons or aviation stories.

Flight Deck Resource Management

in Human Factors

CRM is the effective use of all available resources: human, equipment, and information. It focuses on communication skills, teamwork, task allocation, and decision-making.  While CRM often concentrates on pilots who operate in crew environments, the elements and concepts also apply to single-pilot operations.

Human Resources

Human resources include everyone routinely working with the pilot to ensure flight safety. These people include, but are not limited to: weather briefers, fl ight line personnel, maintenance personnel, crew members, pilots, and air traffic personnel.  Pilots need to effectively communicate with these people.  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 and 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 IMC is faced with many tasks, each with a different level of importance to the outcome of the flight. For 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. Figure 1-11 shows the margin of safety is at the minimum level during this stage of the approach. Routine tasks delayed until the last minute can contribute to the pilot becoming overloaded and stressed, resulting in erosion of performance.

Figure 1-11. The Margin of Safety.

Figure 1-11. The Margin of Safety.

By planning ahead, a pilot can effectively reduce workload during critical phases of flight. If a pilot enters the final phases of the instrument approach unprepared, the pilot should recognize the situation, abandon the approach, and try it again after becoming better prepared. 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 IFR flight.



Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: