7.2 Integrating CRM into an AQP

7.2.1 Scope of Integration

One of the major objectives of AQP is the seamless integration of CRM and technical training, such that CRM becomes an integral part of the flying job. Where appropriate, CRM procedures are identified, documented, integrated and accorded the same weight as the technical procedures required for the execution of a given phase of flight and its associated flight tasks. Seamless integration does not, however, mean that only those aspects of CRM that can be proceduralized are addressed in flight operations technical training and evaluation. Comprehensive CRM training in AQP requires that two aspects of CRM be addressed.

  1. Phase Specific

    Some aspects of CRM are inherent to manoeuvre performance. For example, communication procedures for co-ordinating callouts during take-offs, approaches, and other manoeuvres are clearly specified in terms of “what” should be said and “when” it should be said. These callouts take place during most flight phases and are performed, for the most part, at fairly fixed points in the flight-phase sequence of task activities. Similarly, some aspects of communication during the management of non-normal conditions can be easily positioned within the sequence of activities performed to manage the non-normal condition. These aspects of CRM are phase specific or condition specific. 
  2. Phase Independent

    Other equally important CRM activities, in contrast, are performed on an as-needed basis, in order to manage the flight, work well as a team, or respond to unique situations. Recognizing the need for, and effectively executing these activities, is critical to coordinating the various duties the crew must perform during the flight. For example, certain communications should be performed in order to maintain crew awareness of flight status. Regardless of the phase of flight, it is critical that the crew recognizes this communication requirement and effectively acts upon it in a timely manner to maintain crew situational awareness.

    These global activities do not fit neatly within a hierarchical list of technical activities, organized by phase of flight. Instead, they act as a “shell” or “template” that overlays and organizes the activities that may need to be performed during any phase of flight. These phase-of-flight independent skills as a whole constitute a management strategy that represents a critically important part of the inventory of defences against error by flight crews and threats surfacing from the organization or the operational environment. In particular, they can provide the crew with the tools needed to resolve problematic situations to which they may never have been previously exposed in training or in flight operations. It is important, therefore, that training activities seek to fully instil these skills in crews, in order to provide a basis for generalization to a potentially wide variety of situations. Figure 7-1 contains samples of some of these phase-of-flight independent CRM skills.

Fig 7-1:  Sample Phase Independent CRM Skills

Distribute workload and prioritize between primary and distracting duties.
  Communicate plans and decisions to the crew.
  Enforce standardization, policies, and procedure.
  Set expectations for maintaining vigilance and avoiding complacency.
  Respond to any safety-related concern raised by any crewmember.
  Develop and enhance the aviation skill and knowledge of junior crewmembers.
  Review operational irregularities and establish bottom lines.
  Communicate intentions, “bottom lines,” and decisions to all crewmembers.

First Officer
Flight Engineer
Cross-check and back the Captain up. This requires maintaining vigilance and flying proficiency. It also includes effective monitoring of the situation.
  Report to the Captain any safety-related concern and request a plan or decision if none is articulated.
  Support decisions articulated by the Captain within the limits of safety, legality, and procedure.
  Develop individual proficiency and take the best from each Captain.

Prepare, plan and maintain vigilance—be prepared for what you can reasonably expect.
  Carry out actions or decisions based on priorities and crew workload established by the Captain.
  Identify systemic traps.
  Be aware of the limits of human performance and the nature of human error.

Conduct or contribute to briefings (keep your head in the game and work to get ahead of it).
  Maintain a communications “loop”—acknowledge commands, statements, and questions of crewmembers.
  Use resources appropriately to make informed decisions.
  Resolve disagreements or differences in expectations—ensure that all crewmembers are working from the “same page.”
  Manage errors appropriately to mitigate consequences.
  Continuously review the appropriateness of decisions made and actions taken
  Debrief critical flight events—take the opportunity to learn from unusual events by reviewing the expectations and actions of all flight crewmembers at the end of the flight.

Establish appropriate duties and responsibilities by crew position.
  Back each other up through effective cross-check and acknowledgment.
  Demonstrate motivation appropriate to the situation—transition between casual conversation and focused flight communication based on the need to prepare and execute your flight. This entire range is appropriate at different points in flight.
  Protect crewmembers from the consequences of work overload.
  Effectively coordinate with other groups:  flight attendant’s, gate agents, dispatch, and ground crew.
  Apply judgment in use of automated systems and modes.
  Operate the airplane using different levels of automation as appropriate to the situation.
  Verify that automation is doing what you expect and act to control it when it does not.
  Intervene to control autoflight.
  When using automation, back each other up (verify settings, state intentions, establish roles).

7.2.2 CRM and the AQP Task List

The AQP task list reflects the air operator’s definition of the flight crew’s job, including the role that CRM is expected to play in the performance of that job. This job definition specifies the task activities, the knowledge and the skills that must be trained in order to achieve and maintain pilot and crew proficiency. Because of the fundamental role played by the task list, it should provide a comprehensive specification of the various task activities that constitute the job, and the knowledge and skills required to perform those task activities, both technical and CRM.

In terms of the task list, this means that there are CRM task activities just as there are technical task activities. All of the technical and CRM task activities that must be performed to support these high-level task activities can now be identified. The high-level task activities, which also act as objectives, serve as a type of template that will overlay the specific procedures for handling each condition. High-level CRM task activities act as the framework within which technical activities are positioned to support management objectives.

7.2.3 CRM Knowledge and Skills

A CRM skill represents the ability of a person to apply specific CRM knowledge across a broad range of flight related situations. In AQP, these CRM skills are combined to develop proficiency objectives. Once the air operator has identified the set of task activities appropriate for defining the flight crew’s job (from the task list), these activities then provide the framework for identifying the CRM knowledge and skills that a pilot or crew must possess in order to effectively perform each task activity. Two approaches are commonly used to identify CRM knowledge and skills: 

  1. Top-down 
    This approach uses the CRM categories chosen by the air operator, to identify the set of CRM knowledge and skills. The resulting knowledge and skills can then be attached to those task activities whose performance they support. 
  2. Bottom-up 
    This approach identifies CRM knowledge and skills by analyzing each individual task activity. The structure of the task activity determines the knowledge and skill requirements. This approach has the advantage that it defines an inherent link between the task activity and its knowledge and skills.

7.2.4 CRM and Proficiency Objectives

Once the task list has been completed, the proficiency objectives can be identified for that job. Two types of proficiency objectives are used. These are categorized according to whether a flight crewmember requires specific knowledge or whether the flight crewmember is required to perform an activity. Ground training EOs reflect the subject matter that a flight crew must “know”. Flight training TPOs, SPOs and EOs reflect the activities a flight crew must be able to “do”. Appropriate integration of CRM into both ground and flight proficiency objectives ensures that the range of CRM issues important to the air operator will be addressed both in training and in evaluation. This is accomplished by including CRM performance standards in the proficiency objectives.

7.2.5 Training Events

The complete set of proficiency objectives defines the end result of training:  the task activities the crew must be able to perform, the set of conditions under which they must be able to perform them, the performance standards that must be met, and the evaluation strategy that will be used to evaluate proficiency. They do not, however, describe the specific training situations and activities that will be used to achieve this end result, especially in terms of flight training. One means for specifying the set of flight training situations to be included in a curriculum is by means of events.

The suggestion that flight training and testing activities should be developed around a set of events was formalized in 1994 by an industry group tasked to recommend a systematic approach for developing LOS scenarios under AQP. The event set methodology has achieved wide acceptance because of its analytical approach to scenario design and its reinforcement of the use of realistic line conditions that enable crews to practice the full range of flight management skills.

The effectiveness of the event set methodology for integrating technical and CRM training objectives suggests that an event orientation throughout the curriculum, rather than just in LOFT or LOE, could offer important advantages.

  1. Event Sets

    The primary unit of both LOS design and CRM assessment is the event set. The event set is made up of one or more events, including an event trigger, distracters, and supporting events. The event trigger is the condition or group of conditions under which the event is fully activated. The distracters are conditions inserted within the event set time frame that are designed to divert the crew’s attention from other events that are occurring or are about to occur. Finally, supporting events are other events taking place within the event set designed to further CRM and technical training objectives. In LOS scenario design, the CRM and technical training objectives should be integrated into the event sets.

    This event set framework allows the design team to present the appropriate degree of realism in the LOS. Instead of focusing on a specific technical issue, the event set integrates the entire complex line environment (e.g., terrain, Air Traffic Control (ATC), weather issues, etc.) to facilitate and maximize the crew’s performance in response to specified CRM and technical issues. The event set tends to follow the phase of flight and may extend beyond a single phase. This event set framework provides a logical breakdown for terrain, ATC, and weather issues as they interact with LOS events. With the LOS scenario now defined by event sets, scenario validation is performed at the event set level rather than limiting validation to the overall LOS. A sample event-set development worksheet is shown in Figure 7-2
  2. Sources of Events and Event Sets

    The air operator’s safety information system (incident reports, flight crew reports, FOQA data, OE data, etc.) is an important source for events and event sets. The conditions that encouraged the occurrence of an incident can be replicated in flight training or discussed in ground training. The purpose is to educate pilots about the types of conditions that can increase the likelihood of an error, to present strategies for avoiding these errors, and techniques for recovering from them, should they occur.

Figure 7-2:  Sample Event Set Worksheet (aircraft operated under Subpart 705 of the CARs)

(FROM A340 R L 03-02 LEG 1)

overview. Low Visibility take-off and climb with a reroute and a TCAS event

Phase of Flight: Take-off through Climb

Success criteria

TPOs and SPOs


Technical Skills and Observables

CRM Skills and Observables


Departure weather,
200 overcast, RVR 1500.


TCAS RA, shortly after take-off.

Supporting Events:

Reroute and climb restriction

Difficulty Equivalency Rating:

Low Visibility
take-off - IMC - 4
FMS – 1
TCAS – 3

Total - 8

Low Visibility
take-off operations (2.1)

Proper cleanup
profile. (2.1.4)

Perform TCAS RA avoidance (9.1.28)

Perform climb
operations. (3.1)

Take Off Thrust -Normal

IMC weather

Proficient in use of FMS and Autopilot Flight Director System.
(9.1.11) (9.1.13)

Accomplishes take-off/climb procedures IAW
SOP. (2.1.1) (2.1.2)
(2.1.3) (2.1.4) (3.1.1)

Appropriate response to TCAS Alert (9.1.28)

Crew coordinates for airspeed and altitude changes. (SA 3.4)

Crew verbalizes and acknowledges changes in the altitude selector window. (AT 6.4)

PF coordinates with PM in the use of automation. (AT 6.6)

7.2.6 Curriculum Design

Curriculum design is the final product of the AQP analyses performed to this point:  what is the job, what is proficiency on the job and how is it measured, and what type of training should be provided to achieve proficiency. The curriculum layout reflects the products of these analyses. Much of the work involved in designing a curriculum has been accomplished through the preparation of the task list, proficiency objectives and event sets. If a series of objectives and events have been developed, the design of the curriculum is largely complete, except for choosing the specific locations within the syllabus for the individual elements.

  1. Qualification Curriculum

    CRM training should progress from general information to specific application. First, a separate CRM portion might be appropriate to address the philosophical issues pertaining to Captain’s and First Officer’s authority and corporate expectations concerning professionalism and individual responsibility. In addition, CRM is also likely to play a supporting role in other portions, such as flight management during conditions of severe weather. The decision processes involved in managing severe weather conditions provides an appropriate flight management context for addressing operational issues pertaining to weather.

    Specific qualification training will likely use a different set of training topics. These topics could reflect the transition from knowledge to skill acquisition and, finally, to skill application. If so, the sections will reflect the following learning stages:

    1. Knowledge:  This includes basic awareness training concerning the nature of the skills, their value, strategies for using them, and ways to assess the effectiveness of skill use. Presenting the different roles that could be played by each crewmember sets the stage for later events where the crew must actually assume the appropriate roles for that situation. 
    2. Procedures:  This training includes the proceduralized aspects of CRM which are typically reflected in an air operator’s SOPs. 
    3. Manoeuvres:  This training can extend beyond simply practicing individual manoeuvres so as to encompass situation assessment, planning, workload distribution, and other critical CRM skills. 
    4. Flight management:  This training requires the strategic use of multiple skills adapted to the requirements of challenging flight situations. It also requires the accurate assessment of skill effectiveness in management of such situations. Effectively accomplishing such training requires a systematic approach to the development of scenario events designed to elicit complex crew skills. 
  2. Continuing Qualification Curriculum

    This curriculum has two goals:  To evaluate pilot and crew proficiency, and to provide supplemental training. Because of the severe time constraints imposed on this curriculum, only “snapshot” samples of pilot and crew performance are possible. If a flight management framework has been used to prepare the task list and proficiency objectives, the performance samples could utilize an event-based approach that gauges pilot and crew performance for procedures, manoeuvres, and flight management.

7.2.7 Line Operations and Proceduralized CRM

Developing and teaching specific observable actions that would be required in the execution of specific activities at designated points in normal flight operations, as well as during abnormal or emergency conditions, can enhance the crew’s ability to communicate effectively, plan and manage their workload, and solve problems during flight operations. A procedural approach may raise key aspects of CRM to the level of SOP, which increases CRM’s operational significance and provides crews with a standard form of CRM. CRM procedures may be embedded in a range of crew activities through the different phases of flight, reducing distractions to the pilot flying (PF) in both normal and abnormal situations. Also, providing structure to briefings with a checklist format can enhance the crew’s performance and improve the transfer of critical information.

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