Crew co-ordination is the advantage of teamwork over a collection of highly skilled individuals. Its prominent benefits are:
- An increase in safety by redundancy to detect and remedy individual errors;
- An increase in efficiency by the organised use of all existing resources, which improves the in-flight management.
The basic variables determining the extent of crew co-ordination are the attitudes, motivation and training of the team members. Especially under stress (physical, emotional or managerial), there is a high risk that crew co-ordination will break down. The results are a decrease in communication (marginal or no exchange of information), an increase in errors (e.g. wrong decisions) and a lower probability of correcting deviations either from standard operating procedures or the desired flight path. Additionally, emotional conflicts in the cockpit may result.
The high risks associated with a breakdown of crew co-ordination show the need for CRM training. This kind of training ensures that:
- The pilot has the maximum capacity for the primary task of flying the aircraft and making decisions;
- The workload is equally distributed among the crew members, so that excessive workload for any individual is avoided;
- Co-ordinated co-operation – including the exchange of information;
- The support of fellow crew members and the monitoring of each others performance will be maintained under both normal and abnormal conditions.
A lack of crew co ordination has been a major contributing factor in these accidents
- A Lockheed L-1011 crashed in a Florida swamp as the crew worked to repair a light bulb which has burned out.
- A Douglas DC-8 ran out of fuel while the crew was troubleshooting a landing gear malfunction.
- A DC-8 flew into a mountain while the crew was troubleshooting a DC electrical problem.