CRM is dead, long live EBT

Crew Resource Management (CRM) training emerged as a result of the recognition of the importance of ‘human factors’ in flight safety. So how does the implementation of EBT affect the future of CRM?


CRM training has certainly had an important place; many tragic accidents have been caused by the failure of flight crew (and other safety-critical personnel) to work effectively together. The most obvious example is the ‘Papa India’ accident in 1972 where the crew of a British European Airways Trident retracted the leading edge devices too soon after take-off causing the aircraft to lose lift and crash southwest of Heathrow Airport. The investigators never established which pilot retracted the leading edge devices or why, but they did investigate a complex range of ‘non-technical’ issues that could have affected the performance of any or all of the three pilots on the flight deck that day. These included industrial relations issues between the pilots and their employer, possible incapacitation of the Captain an inexperienced co-pilot and an extra crew member on the flight deck.

Since the introduction of CRM training pilots have a better understanding of how stress and interpersonal issues can affect their performance and consider both the technical and non-technical aspects of the job. Initial and annual recurrent CRM training is now mandated for all commercial air transport pilots, but EASA is developing regulations that will mean that this CRM training will no longer be required.

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Long live EBT

When new requirements for Evidence Based Training (EBT) are published it is expected that airlines implementing EBT will not be required to provide an annual CRM training session. These airlines will implement a new training programme that will be tailored to the specific risks of operating modern aircraft in today’s complex environment. EBT will use a variety of training media including full-flight simulators and lower-cost devices and will use a balanced approach to developing the technical and non-technical skills of pilots so that they can cope with expected and unexpected events. The skills and knowledge previously taught in CRM sessions will still be important but they will no longer be taught as a separate discipline.

If EBT is implemented properly then training will be more closely related to actual operations. Equal weight will be put on the technical and non-technical aspects of the flying job in all training events. Few pilots will mourn the passing of the CRM training day and airlines will be able to make better use of the time.

About the author: Andrew McKechnie is an expert in Air Operations, Pilot Training and Management Systems for Aviation. After spending 17 years as a pilot for British Airways (First Officer, Captain and Training Captain), he worked at the UK Civil Aviation Authority and was then recruited to European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) as Standardisation Team Leader. In 2015 he established McKechnie Aviation to provide consultancy and training services. Visit his website at mckechnie-aviation.eu.