Standard Operating Procedures and Line Oriented Flight Training for Pilots


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Standard operating procedures (sops) are designed to enhance safety, to assist the flight crews to manage risk and to ensure consistency in the cockpit. Consider them guidelines as to who-does-what-and-when. At all times, these procedures should encourage effective communication and teamwork in the cockpit. Sops can be either general in nature or aircraft specific. Although aviation companies have a certain amount of latitude when creating their sops, under no circumstances should they contravene aviation regulations or the procedures outlined in the aircraft flight manuals.

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Included in the sops should be a section on normal procedures, and it is to be considered an enhancement of the air craft flight manual. These normal procedures include all aspects pf day-to-day flight, including the start-up and normal procedures checklist, the take-off briefing, go-around procedures, IFR approaches, etc.

A section of the sops should be dedicated to emergency procedures, with the expanded version of the emergency procedures checklist. Again, this should compliment the aircraft flight manual’s emergency section and streamline procedures removing any ambiguity.

Another section can include aircraft landing and take of distances charts, a JBI chart, or any other references that the flight crews may require.

Sops should be reviewed periodically and amended to maintain their relevance in changing times or aircraft fleet. Care should be taken not to include non-applicable items, as personnel may then tend to view the whole package as being irrelevant. Sops should be written in simple terminology leaving no room for subject interpretation.

There are definite safety benefits from the use of Standard Operating Procedures but they must first be adopted by the flight crews. Company check pilots should monitor for crew adherence to the sops. Finally, there is no substitute for good judgment, and decisions made in the cockpit shod be supported by management.

Crew concept, one of the basic fundamentals of the ‘’ crew concepts ‘’ is that each crew member must be able to supplement or act as a back-up for another crew member. Proper adherence to standard call-outs will stimulate more meaningful and standardized crew communications and provide for early detection of crew member incapacitation during critical phases of flight.

Checklists were created so that an aircraft can be operated by a pilot safely. It is ironic that checklists are designed to cover omissions and oversights of pilots, but the built in redundancy and repetition found in checklists can also make pilots complacent. This complacency a breeding ground for errors and negligence.

Crew briefing is not limited to reviewing an instrument approach procedure, or detailing aspects of the flight to the flight attendants. In fact, the cockpit crew briefing is an important tool for improving safety during any critical phase of flight. In a somewhat modified form, it’s of use to the single-pilot flight operation as well.

The Concept of CRM Trainings in Pilot Training

Aircraft equipment operating procedures navigation methods and airworthiness safety standards have steadily improved over the last few decades. This may lead you to determine that as a result, the accident rate has improved, it has not. Accident investigations showed that 70% of air carrier incidents and accidents have been caused by the failure of flight crews to make use of readily available ‘’resources’’ the concept called ‘’Crew Resource Management ‘’ is intended to address the problem of pilots making flawed decisions or acting inappropriately because they may not have all the formations available to them at the time to complete a proper situational assessment. This is intended to be a self-awareness program. CRM Refers To the effective use of all available resources. These resources are divided into 4 broad categories-people, machinery, fuel/time and formation. CRM is designed to optimize the human/machine interface and accompanying interpersonal activities. These activities include team building and maintenance, information transfer, problem solving, decision making, maintaining situational awareness and dealing with automated systems.

History of CRM

From the beginning of our flying careers, pilot training programs have focused almost exclusively on the technical aspects of flying and on an individual pilot’s performance and problem solving capabilities. But accident statistics show that many problems encountered by flight crews have very little to do with the technical aspects of flying. It would appear that to improve the safety of flight, the priorities must shift from operating independently in a multi-crew environment to problem solving using all available resources. CRM concepts are not designed to challenge the authority of the captain or the high degree of technical proficiency essential for safe and efficient flight operations. But a high degree of technical proficiency with alone cannot guarantee safe operations. Studies have shown that marrying technical proficiency with effective crew co-ordination will provide the best opportunity for a successful flight.

CRM Trainings for Flight Attendants

CRM training is not limited to multi crew pilots. Bear in mind that CRM is a concept, affecting the way you think and the way you act. It is intended to heighten attitudes and behavior, not to change personalities. Pilots flying single-pilot, flight dispatchers, flight attendants or cabin medical attendants, maintenance personnel, and air traffic controllers can all benefit from CRM training.

The Aim of The CRM Trainings

The Acceptance of CRM concepts has been shown to provide synergy, which is the combined effect of teamwork in the cockpit which exceeds the sum of individual actions. Pilots must have training, practice and feedback, and continuing CRM reinforcement for the concept to be effective. It is unrealistic to expect a short training exercise to reverse years of performance programming. Management support of individuals who attempt to actin accordance with learned CRM principles will help its success. CRM practices should also be incorporated into flight operations manuals and standard operating procedures to provide crews with necessary policy and procedures guidance.

Discussing the Content of CRM Trainings

ICAO has identified six major areas that should be included CRM trainings:

Communication/interpersonal skills

Communication/interpersonal skills, specific skills associated with good communication practices include such items as polite assertiveness and participation, active listening and feedback. Polite assertiveness is a skill frequently ignored in communications training but vital to a healthy cockpit. In order to improve the communication channel, cultural influences must be taken into account as well as factors such as rank, age, and crew position, all of which can create communication barriers in the cockpit.

Situational Awareness

It refers to one’s ability to accurately one’s ability to accurately perceive what is going on in the cockpit and outside the aircraft. It further extends to the planning of several solutions for any emergency situation which could occur in the immediate future. Maintaining a state of awereness of one’s situation is a complex process, greatly motivated by the understanding that one’s perception of reality sometimes differs reality itself. This awereness should promote on-going questioning, cross-checking, and refinement of one’s perception. Constant and conscious monitoring of the situation is required.

Problem Solving / Decision Making

These three topics are broad in spectrum, and can interrelate with each other or other skills areas. One may consider problem-solving as a cycle of events beginning with information input and ending with making a final decision. During the phase in which information is requested and offered, some conflicting points of view or differences of opinion may be represented. The concept of ‘’ legitimate avenue of dissent’’ is an important vehicle for clearing the air, maintaining lines of communication and maintaining self-image. Skills in resolving conflicts are therefore especially appropriate at this time. All decisions must come from the pilot-in-command and supported by all crew members. The team will fail if command authority is not acknowledged at all times. The inflight, immediate post-decision review is also a vital concept for promoting good decision making.

Many types of decisions are made during the course of the flight. Some decisions of high quality can be made singularly by one member of the crew; other decisions are of such complexity or importance that the inputs from more than one crew member, or from an outside source, are necessary to ensure higher quality decisions. When all information is resourced and analyzed, the likelihood is increased that crew members become aware of potential problems they otherwise would not have appreciated., thus can take steps to deal with them in a sound way. In on way does the consideration of all appropriate resources in the decision making process diminish the ultimate authority of the Captain. When decisions are made in this optimum manner based on a maximum of information, there exist a high potential for success, respect among crew members and commitment to full support in implementing the decisions.


In this area, there is clear recognition that the command role carriers a special responsibility. The pilot-in-command is responsible for accessing and managing all resources that are available and pertinent for the safe completion of a flight. This process will ensure that informed decisions are made and if required, specific duties delegated. Similarly, every non-command crew member is responsible for actively contributing to the team effort, for monitoring changes in the situation, and for being assertive when necessary. This is especially important when flying with a pilot-in-command who does not subscribe to the CRM concept.

Stress Management

Any kind of emergency situation generates stress, but there is also the residual stress (both physical and mental) that crew member might bring to a situation which may be a difficult for others to detect. A crew member’s over-all fitness to fly may be affected because of fatigue, mental or emontional problems, to the extent that other crew members should be on the alert for any performance decline or subtle incapacitation. Skills related to stress management refer not only to one’s ability to perceive and accommodate the stress in others but primarily to anticipate, recognize and cope with one’s own stress as well. This would include psychological stresses such as those related to crew scheduling, anxiety over check-rides, career and achievement stresses, inter-personal problems with either the cabin vrew or other flight crew member, as well as the home and work interface, including related domestic problems. Management must be open to understanding stress problems and to encourage managers and other non-crew personnel to attend CRM training.


Skills of critique generally refer to the ability to analyze a future, current or past plan of action. Techniques for accomplishing critique vary according to the availability of time, resources, and information. Pre-mission analysis and planning, on-going review as part of the in-flight problem solving process and post-mission debriefing. All three are important but can sometimes be overlooked in either flight operations or during instruction. The art of critique is not to dwell on the negative, but to accentuate the positive and to encourage participation from the team.

Critique used in the context of CRM, refers to discussions among crew members regarding the conduct of the flight. It begins in the planning phase, continues throughout the flight, and concludes in a post-flight de briefing. Properly utilized, critique can be initiated by any crew member at any time when they believe it will be helpful to the safety and efficiency of the operation. It is totally separate from the evaluation involved with line checks and proficiency checks. Critique is essential in producing useful future insights. When frank discussions are held among crew members, misunderstandings and errors in perception can be clarified and resolved, and conflict can be dealt with before serious problems arise.

Pilot’s Cognitive Sufficiency

Ability is a general term concerning the power or capacity to act financially, legally, mentally,physically, or in some other way. Cognitive ability refers specifically to mental qualification or capacity. The relationship between cognitive ability, especially general cognitive ability, and occu-pational performance has long been a subject of theoretical speculation and applied research. The criteria for the pilot sample included academic grades, hands-on flying work samples ( flight maneuvers), passing/failing training, and an overall performance composite made by summing the other criteria.

Stress Management

Stress is a necessary evil in a pilot’s life. In moderation, it is a key factor in the achievement of peak performance. Too much stress will detract from the pilot’s ability to reason and function. Not enough stress causes complacancy. Either not enough stress or too much stress can lead to a lack of situational awareness. Stress is cumulative. The body does not differentiate between the type of stress it feels, but there is a biological differentaition between the category of stress. Acute stress injects adrenaline into the bloodstrean and becomes a source of energy. Heartbeat, breathing rate and blood sugar levels all increase. The body is charged into a ‘’fight or flight’’ mode which enables the individual to quickly react to the situation. Chronic stress is the most dangerous of the two. It can make a situation that normally should be controllable seem more difficult to handle. Chronic stress will exaggerate the effects of acute stress. Long term chronic stress may cause illness, insomnia, irritability, ulcers and high blood pressure. It can threaten and indicidual’s health.

High levels of stress over a period of time will push the individual on the back side of the stress curve and affect the pilot’s ability to deal with complex or difficult tasks. Performance will be progressively degraded.

Pilot’s Psychological Sufficiency

Managing Angry Conflict

There will be times, inside or outside the cockpit, that angry conflict will take place. Should this angry conflict take place during a critical phase of flighti it will consitute a serious hazard to safety. There are some tips will help pilots to manage the angry conflict until the problem can be resolved at a more convenient time. These are the steps which help to pilots to keep under control their angry. Maintain control, listening, problem sharing approach, maintain respect, avoid hasty responses, seek constructive solutions.

Behavioral Styles

The purpose of behavioral analysis is to provide pilots with an awareness of their individual behavioral style. With this awereness, they will have a better understanding of why they react in a specific way to people or to situations. Their reactions also affect the people around them, and in turn they react to us. This human reaction can be either healthy or dangerous in the flight environment. A knowledge of behavioral style will ultimately benefit aviation safety.

All individuals have inherent leadership qualities which are manifested in their behaviour. It is a matter of how these leadership qualities are utilized that gives them the strength in their leadership abilities.

Psychologist divide behavioral styles into two basic categories, Relationship Oriented, consideration is the feelings of others which rank high in the decision making process. A person who is high relationship oriented and low task oriented is considered to have a caring or nurturing style of behavior. Task Oriented, consideration is given to the task or goal in the decision making process. A person who is high task oriented and low relationship oriented is considered to have an aggressive style of behavior.

Pilot’s Fatigue and Countermeasures

Fatigue in aviation is recognized as a serious safety concern. Fatigue poses a threat to the principles of CRM and induces human error. Human error is a contributing factor in 80% of all aviation accidents. The NASA-Ames Fatigue Countermeasures Program has been conducting studies on pilotnfatigue for the last 10 years. Their research can be confirmed by interviewing any pilot that has never flown fatigued.

Pilots may be of the opinion that because they can stay away for extended periods of time, they escape the adverse effects of fatigue. This is not the case. Fatigue is insidious; individuals cannot readily feel the onset of fatigue. The fatiued person may not be aware of it’s gradual and cumulative effects and consequently, may be unaware that their performance has become degraded. The fatigued pilot may not easily accep an assessment of their degraded performance or be able to improve their performance despite increased effort. Fatigued pilots are less vigilant, more willing to accept below par performance, and show signs of poor judtment.

Do not begin a flight with a sleep debt, maket his a priority over outside activities. NASA studies have shown that an individual who recivied 8 hours of sleep was better able to carry out pilot duties after being awake for 20 hours, than that of a pilot who received just 6 hours of sleep. Pre-planning for a known sleep disruption is essential for managing alertness. Develop a regular pre-sleep routine, sleep in a comfortable environment. They should make proper diet, physical conditioning, avoiding alcohol and smoking will help the body to stay healthy and be bette rable to cope with the effects of fatigue. Pilots do not exercise or eat a large meal meal before sleep. Using caffeine sparingly during fligt as it may keep you awake later when you are trying to sleep. Water is favoured to countreact dehydration effects. If a pilot wakes up spontaneously and cannot go back to sleep within 15 – 20 minutes, or have trouble.

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