100 YEARS OF FLIGHT 12TH INT’L SYMPOSIUM ON AVIATION PSYCHOLOGY (ISAP) Wright University DATON-OHIO
APRIL 14-17 2003
Presuppositions for the effective introduction of changes IN aviation safety culture, through Crew Resource Management training program The case study of the Olympic Airways By Dr. Yiannis S. Lainos Athens Greece.
Capt Elias D. Nikolaidis Athens Greece.
The application of a CRM training program to a schedule airline concerns directly the change of the existed culture-attitude of at leas t the flight crew. However:
- a) Although the content of the CRM is obligatory by ICAO common in every air carrier, it is applied to employees with various cultures
- b) For an essential assimilation and a successful application of the content of a CRM, the flight crew has to be convinced and not managerially forced.
Consequently, for the effective application of a unified CRM to the flight crews of various air carriers with different cultures, we consider a research by the management as a necessary presupposition for:e- a proactive determination of the existed attitude/culture of flight crew and the impact
on it as a result of the introduction of changes to its culture through a CRM training program.
– Selection of the most efficient actions, measures and procedures, methods-adopted to the existed cultures “ Hofstede’s central argument is that, given the distinctive cultural breakdown in work-related values, efficient work practices and group processes are likely to vary from country to country (Hofstede, 1980a, 1983, 1991) To be effective, the organisation of work and management practices must reflect the social mores of the relevant culture. Triandis (1980) endorses these sentiments , stating that in recent years “it become very clear that one cannot take a psychological method and use it in another culture without drastic modification (p. 7). It would clearly be foolish to tackle cross-cultural problems of management and group functioning by blindly using a narrow and predefined repertoire of conceptions, prescriptions, and tools” (Johnston 1993) The Olympic Airways (OA), the national Greek air carrier, has recently decided to apply a CRM training program according to ICAO Annex 6 etc and JAR-OPS 1
The aim of the present paper is the determination of:
- a) The proper steps, that the air carrier’s top management has to apply for the fulfilment of the efficient introduction of the necessary changes on the operational sub-culture, through a CRM training program.
- b) The investigation of whether O. A. ’s management has applied the proper steps, procedures, methods, mechanisms and measures for the fulfilment of the efficient introduction of the necessary changes on the corporate operational flight crew sub-culture/attitude, through a CRM training program
Brief theoretical approach
Investigations into the causes of air carrier accidents/incidents have shown that human error is a contributing factor in 60 to 80 percent of all air-carrier incidents/accidents (Freeman & Simmon 1991). Research has demonstrated that these events share common characteristics (U. S. GAO, 1997). Many problems encounter ed by flight crews have very little to do with the technical aspects of operating in a multi-person cockpit. Problems are associated with poor group decision-making, ineffective communication, inadequate leadership, and poor task or resource management instead. (Wiener, Kanki, &Helmreich, 1993; Sa- las, Bowers, & Edens, 2001). Pilot training programs historically focused almost exclusively on the technical aspects of flying and on an individual pilot’s performance; they did not effectively address to crew management issues that are also fundamental to safe flight. These observations have led to a consensus in industry and governmental training programs should place emphasis on the factors that influence crew coordination and the management of crew resources. (Wiener, Kank i, & Helmreich, 1993; Helmreich, Merritt 1998 Salas, Bowers, & Edens, 2001).
Flight safety culture covers a wide area such as
1) Production methods (Maurino1994, Lainos 1995, 2001,2002)
2) Skills and specialization,
3) Consideration of discipline and penalties ,
4) Style of communication with the colleagues, members of hier arc hy, clients, suppliers e.t.c.
5) The dominant and acceptable administrative methods
- a) Management theories x or y (traditional-bureaucratic or contemporary-human oriented)
- b) Application of motivation systems for
upgrading flight safety (increasing productivity simultaneously with the quality of the job),
- c) Encouraging proposals for innovations introduction e.t.c.
- d) The efficiency of the applied control style (administrative or participating, ex post or ex ante)
- e) Individuality or team spirit
6) The values and the traditions of the company (degree of tolerance of risky, aggressive, conflict and open critic al behaviour, reward criteria, seniority or efficiency in promotion etc.),
7) The standing transactional practice of the Airline Flight safety culture determinants General subcultures that must be taken into account during the planning of methods and measures concerning the introduction of changes at the existing Aviation safety culture are as follows.
(Hofstede, 1980a, 1983, 1991;Lainos, 1991,1995, 2001,2002; Reason 1997)
1) National culture concerning
- a) Individuality – collectivity
- b) The relationship, values and priorities of labour.
2) Development level of the economy of the certain country
3) Development level and tradition of air transport of the certain country.
4) Flight safety culture introduced by top management (positive or negative)
It is obvious that t he changes that are intended to be introduced through the CRM training program concern a part of the culture-attitude of the flight crew
The effective introduction of organisational-managerial-productive e. t.c. changes in a company, like those of CRM, is considered as a rather complicated-sophisticated process because it concerns changes to personal culture-attitude of the employees and the success depends on the efficient overcome of the reactions of the involved and influenced groups and individuals, who have different cultures, interests and psychology (Maurino, 1994; Johnston 1993;Merritt & Helmreich, 1995).
For the efficient introduction of these changes the flight crew operational sub-culture and the impact of the aforementioned changes, on this has to be deter- mined. The procedures, methods, mechanisms and measures that will be selected for the introduction of the changes has to be adopted to the peculiarities of the culture-attitude of the affected employees This is the cause of the fact that the
knowledge of the flight crew culture and attitude some parts of which is intended to be changed, is a strictly necessary presupposition for an effective selection of the procedures, methods, mechanisms, measures that will be ap- plied towards the efficient changes introduction. This is the cause of our field research on the existed culture of the OA flight crew. This is necessary because:
- a) the content of the changes that has to be introduced is probably totally opposed to the existed national and/or corporate culture, although aviation safety requires common behaviour
- b) The proper techniques concerning the effective introduction of the necessary changes into the existed flight safety culture through CRM training programs can potentially be in opposition to the traditionally existed air-carriers management style. Nevertheless s introduction of changes to the traditionally existed air-carriers management style is a necessary presupposition
since the application of the efficient measures for upgrading the aviation-flight safety level requires these measures to be consciously accepted by flight crew, who is finally burden and responsible for the application.
Steps for efficient introduction of changes
Since CRM training programs concern introduction of changes, its effective application must follow the principles and the stages of the effective intro- duction of changes.
Introduction of changes in a company is a very complicated process since the efficiency of this effort depends on the reactions of a great number of involved and influenced groups and individuals with different cultures, interests and psychology.
This is a reason for which there is not any special prescription for unique world wide procedures, methods, mechanisms, measures for effective introduction of changes.
That is why in every company the role of the leader who is authorized to introduce the changes is crucial.
Based on the international literature (Lewin 1947; Pettigrew 1985; Pettigrew & Whipp 1991, 1993; Kotter 1995; Burnes, 1996,2000) and according to our more than a decade experience on the O.A.’s effort at recapitalisation (for the effective introduction of organizational, managerial, operational e.t. c. changes), (Lainos 2001) we have constructed a specific number of steps that must be applied in the specific or- der as follows: (Lainos model)
- A) Determination of the strategic and tactic goals of the air-carrier
- B) Determination and assessment of the current status of the air-carrier
1) Determination of the negative symptoms.
2) Determination of the problem(s) consisted of the aforementioned negative phenomena.
3) Determination of the causes of these problems
4) Determination of the sources of the
- C) Research and determination of the necessary changes that must be introduced according to the strategic and tactic goals of the organization
- D) Preparation of the members of hierarchy and the simple employees
1) Building trust and certainty among the employees for the future goals-intentions of the company
2) Informing the employees about the existence of the problem(s).
3) Focusing on the current and the long-term negative effects of the existed problem(s) for the survival of the company.
4) Focusing on the negative future effects, on certain categories of the employees and even if possible on individuals. The successful result of the aforementioned process must be the existence of the certain problem(s) acceptance by the employees.
5) Persuading the employees that for the solution of the problem(s) some changes are necessary to be introduced.
6) Inviting the employees to submit proposals concerning their opinion about the necessary changes that must be introduced.
7) Informing the employees about the effects of their proposals on the solution of the problems that the company faces.
8) Starting discussions with the employees to conclude to the mutual accepted proposals concerning:
- a) The number of changes, the field and the time of application
- b) The role of the different categories of the employees to the efficient application of these changes
9) The discussions must be continued concerning all the steps of the process.
- E) Co-decision for the necessary changes that must be introduced according to the strategic and tactic goals of the organization.
- F) Programming of the introduction of the selected changes (which, when, where, how).
- G) Application of the introduction of the selected changes (fulfil all the agreements with the employees ) .
- H) Continuous control-with priority to the voluntary self-control-of the application of the introduction of the changes to each stage of introduction (not to the end) and to each organizational unit.
- I) Assessment of the result of the introduced changes.
- J) Stabilization of the introduced changes and of its results.
- K) In case of failure a new effort must start as soon as the mistakes of the previous effort are being determined and the general circumstances are being matured. It is obvious that the wider alliances of the company’s leader with the formal leadership of the trade unions , and of labour associations together with the informal leaders of specialty-groups,
facilitates the successful introduction of the changes essentially.
The case study of the OA, the Greek flag carrier
The CRM training became obligatory for ICAO member States in 1998 (ICAO annex 6 amendment 23) and for the European airlines members of the JAA in April 1999 (JAR-OPS1). The Greek State delayed adopting to its national legislation JAR-OPS1 until July 2001 with law 222 (JAR-OPS1 amendment 2) and law 207 (August 2002 JAR-OPS1 amendment 3).
The Olympic Airways was obliged to apply CRM training from effective date 5 November 1998 as an air carrier with worldwide network.
The OA top management introduced the CRM training program through the following procedures, methods mechanisms and measures.
The purchasing had been decided after several non-conformance reports, which had been made as a result of the Greek CAA inspections The O.A.’s management purchased a CRM training programme in early 2001 from a well known and respected UK based company specialised in providing CRM training programmes world wide.
The supplier trained the facilitators for two weeks during Marc h 2001.
Although the majority of the facilitators were not familiar with the CRM before their training, the OA management didn’t take any measures to prepare them for the role they were assigned to.
The OA select ion criteria for the facilitators were
- a) The pilots had to be captains (for at least ten years ) with at leas t 5 years training experience.
- b) The cabin crew facilitators had been
selected according to their high level of knowledge of English language.
After this training some of these facilitators were called to start training the flight crew. The CRM training course was a two days (sixteen hours) training, for a period of five months on July 2001.
This, training per iod stopped for nine months and re-started on October 2002.
The Greek National culture
The national culture and corporate culture determine the flight crew sub-culture.
Consequently a basic determinant of the OA’s flight crew attitude is the existing national Greek, the OA corporate and flight crew operational sub-culture.
Four of the national Greek cultural dimensions that strongly affect the flight crew attitude are (Hofstede 1980 a, b, 1991; Johnston 1993)
1) Power distance. This considers the habitual exercise of power within a culture. (From a scale 11 to 104 Greece scores 60)
2) Uncertainty Avoidance, (Fr om scale 40 to 112 Greeks score 112). This dimension addresses the ease with which cultures cope with novelty, ambiguity, and uncertainty. High Uncertainty-avoidance culture seeks clarity and order in social relationships, favouring rules and regulations.
3) Individualism. (From a scale 8 to 91 Greece scores 35) This dimension considers the cultural emphasis given to individualistic, as distinct from collectivist, social mores .
4) Masculinity. This relates to beliefs regarding the gender division of social roles, (from a scale of 5 to 95 Greece scores 57) In masculine cultures ambition and performance are valued. High masculine society tend to have a belief in the independent decision maker and leader value their decision-making autonomy” Some parameters of the OA’s flight crew operational sub-Culture
Our approach on the aforementioned subject was based on the conclusions of two field research.
The first field research is based on questionnaires (course feedback form with sixty-seven questions), which was attached to the purchased by the OA CRM training program. The OA distributed these forms to the trainees (without distinguishing the crewmember, cockpit from cabin crew) at the end of their training period concerning their assessment of the bellow mentioned criteria:
- a) The content and the utility of the CRM training program
- b) The quality of the training means and
- c) The efficiency of the trainer.
The number of the trainees (flight crew) that filled out the OA questionnaires represents the 30 % of the tot al flight crewmembers (cockpit and cabin).
The unique elaboration of the answers was made exclusively by the authors.
The second field research was made by the authors and it is based, on authors, questionnaires with thirty-one questions The questions concerned
- a) The opinion of the cockpit and cabin crew distinguished for the content and role of their profession and the profession of each other.
- b) The motivation methods applied by OA for the flight crews.
The research concerning the pilots was conducted in two periods, with one-two month time distance between them. The first period was early October 2002 and the second November- December 2002,
after the end of their training. Consequently these answers are influenced by the content of their training The research of the cabin crew was conducted only during their training .The number of the filled questionnaires represents the 30 % of the total flight crewmembers (cockpit and cabin) The questionnaire was a multiple choice one with the possibility of expressing the personal opinion, as far as it was not included in the proposed multiple choices.
Results of the research.
The results of the elaboration of the trainees replies to the OA’s questionnaires are as follows
- a) Quality of the trainer: approved by 82% of the trainees,
- b) The course content appropriate to the flight crew job needs : approved by 78% of the trainees
- c) Quality of the training methods and procedures: approved by 71% of the
trainees. According to the replies of our field research
86.6 % cockpit crew see their role as a authoritarian and 12.6 % as members of the team called flight crew. This consideration is in a direct antithesis with the content of the CRM training programme that they had participated.
“High power distance and/or low individualism cultures the average and often the more effective manager may be a “benevolent autocrat” who sees little need for participative management. In many countries it is not considered normal or appropriate to enter into discussions with pilot representatives on such matters. Her e again we meet a cultural gulf with implications for CRM implementation” (Johnston 1993)
A further analysis of the questionnaires according to the aforementioned consideration between captains and first officers shows that only 10 % of the captains and 18 % of the first officers see themselves as members of the team called f light crew. The explanation of the aforementioned results is based on the history of the OA’s flight crew sub-culture.
The OA flight crew sub-culture history
The OA was established by hiring former Hellenic air force pilots . These pilots were the majority of the OA cockpit crew up to 1992. Consequently their culture (military standards, hie- rarchy, authoritarian, autocrats) was the dominating culture. This culture was and still remains with marginal differentiat ion, the dominant culture of the OA’s cockpit crew.
The 90.7% of the cabin crew and the 80.5% of the cockpit crew replied that the OA do not apply any motivation measures.
Comparison of the conclusions of the two research.
The 78% of the trainees answered that the content of the CRM training pro-gram would be useful during their duty. However only the 20% of the cockpit crew and the 23 % of the cabin crew expressed their intention to cooperate with each other (cockpit cabin crew) on their duty time.
1) CRM training program concerns directly the introduction of changes to the existed culture-attitude of the flight crew
2) A necessary presupposition for the effective application of CRM to the flight crews, is a research-study by the management for:
- a) A proactive determination of their existed culture-attitude and the impact on it by the introduction of changes through a CRM training program.
- b) Selection of the most efficient measures, procedures, methods and mechanisms for the existed cultures
3) The OA implemented the CRM training programme because it was obligatory by the Greek legislation and not because the management foresaw its necessity.
4) The OA management purchased a CRM training program that was structured for a culture different from the OA flight crews sub-culture
5) Our research concluded that the basic dimensions of the national Greek culture determine the OA flight crew sub-culture
6) Although the OA management was aware of the new legislation, it didn’t prepare the flight crews for the introduction of the CRM
- a) Before the beginning of the lessons none research/study had been made by the management-for the determination of the existed flight crew attitude/culture and the reactions that would probably arise due to the intended introduction of CRM changes
- b) There was no research into adopting the teaching methodology to the peculiarities of the specific audience
- c) The trainees had not any in advance nformation concerning the special weight and the effect of the CRM training.
7) The facilitators were not subject to any assessment of the level of their understanding the syllabus of the CRM training program and their capability to train their colleagues at the end of their training.
8) The OA hasn’t established any control mechanisms for the efficiency of the methods-measures- procedures applied by the facilitators
9) The OA’s management didn’t develop trust among the trainees for its intention to apply the CRM (lac k of preparation, continuity and control of training)
10) None mechanism was established for the control of the actual fulfilment by the trainees of the contain of the CRM training program during their line operation.
11) Our researches concluded that the changes that were aimed to be introduced, through the CRM training program, strongly affect structural elements of the existing national, operational subculture of the OA flight crew, mainly the power distance, the muscularity and the uncertainty avoidance.
The result proves that the procedures methods mechanisms techniques and measures applied by the OA management for the introduction of changes of the flight crew attitude – culture was inefficient. The OA management didn’t persuade the flight crew that it was interested in the application of the aforementioned changes.
We would like to underline that
- a) During the aforementioned period the state owned OA is under privatization procedures
- b) There hasn’t been any fatal accident with jet aircraft during the 27 years state owned period of the OA.
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