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Combined techniques

Examples of research using combinations of the techniques described above to identify non-technical skills critical for safe and efficient performance are given below from aviation, nuclear and medicine.


In the USA, several centres, including NASA Ames and Helmreich’s group at the University of Texas at Austin, led the field in identifying pilots’ cognitive and social skills (see Wiener et al., 1993, and Chapter 11) and today there is also significant aviation psychology research from other countries (Goeters, 1998; Edkins and Pfister, 2003). These teams study the behaviour of pilots by conducting systematic observations from flight decks and in simulators, as well as using questionnaires, interviews and accident reports.

Box 9.8 Development of a behaviour rating system for pilots from interviews,

observations and accident analyses (LMQ, see CAA, 2006: appendix 11)

Interviews were conducted by an aviation consultancy company, with several hundred training captains to identify the qualities of a professional pilot, as well as those of someone who would be considered as being a liability. Qualities included being open and honest, having control of the situation and can see the big picture, and lets others know what they are thinking and planning, in contrast, liabilities included: is insensitive, pompous and aggressive, has little respect for others, and has a closed mind and rigid views.

The results of the interviews were combined with observations of exercises undertaken by crews when practising CRM skills, and accident analyses, to develop CRM standards. Examples of the observable actions for each of the five skill categories include:

Communication Know when, what, how much and to

whom they need to communicate.

Pass messages and information clearly, accurately, timely and adequately.

Teamworking Agree and are clear on the team’s

objectives and members’ roles.

Demonstrate respect and tolerance for other people.

Workload management Prioritise and schedule tasks effectively.

Offer and accept assistance, and delegate when necessary.

Situation Are aware of what the aircraft and

its systems are doing.

Are able to recognise what is likely to happen, to plan and stay ahead of the game.

Problem-solving and Identify and verify why things have gone wrong and

decision making do not jump to conclusions or make assumptions.

Use and agree the most effective decision-making process.

This research plus interviews, observations and accident analyses have been used for the development of behaviour rating systems (see Chapter 11). Helmreich’s work has now evolved into a major international programme based on in-flight observations, called LOSA, which is described in Chapter 11. Another behaviour rating method from aviation is the NOTECHS system devised as the basis for an assessment system for European pilots’ non-technical skills as described in Appendix 1. A third example from aviation is shown in Box 9.8.

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