Real Answers from Real Pilots

CRM And Personnel Issues

After nearly 20 years as a medic and firefighter, I am well aware of the minor little day-to-day conflicts that arise when you spends hours and days working in close quarters with people. I was wondering what are some of the little things that a CPT and FO might disagree on? (Not fight/argue, just see differently)

For example, at the firehouse some people like A/C and some prefer windows down. Some prefer to take highways for smoother trips and some prefer back streets to shave some time off the drive. I prefer to manage the radio (because I’m a stickler for clear/concise traffic) and others like to treat it like a phone and talk all day. What little things come up on the flight deck?

Chris,

The Captain and FO never disagree, because the Captain is always right.

All kidding aside, there is a hierarchy to the airlines and as an FO, I always deferred to the Captain on small things like you mention. For example, most pilots like to fly with the interior lights on full bright at night, I can’t stand it, but if the Captain wants the lights on, then the lights will be on. Same thing with the speaker volume, I like to use the headsets, but many guys like to use the speaker instead. There can be other things, like which way to deviate around a thunderstorm, but if I think left and the Captain thinks right, unless there is some very compelling reason to go left, I am not going to say anything about going right.

Now if there is a an issue that is a safety of flight issue, that is a whole different story, but the vast majority of issues are not and the phrase “Yes, Captain” will get you along way in life.

Chris

Pretty much as expected with the CPT getting final say on most things. I was just curious what topics popped up. Most of the issues that pop up in my line of work could be easily solved with checklists and company guidelines (I work smaller/rural areas where these are rarely used… if they even exist)

I’m a pretty laid-back dude and don’t get riled up for anything. But when there’s work to do, I’m ON it, so I do appreciate the regimented approach the industry takes on a lot of subjects.

Adam will probably have more to say on this, he is our CRM guru.

I love you avatar, it always reminds me of:

Chris,

While I’m not sure I’m a guru, I have been facilitating CRM classes nearly as long as I’ve been flying. We could literally spend days, weeks or months on this subject and pilots can and do bicker, argue and even get physical over just about anything you can imagine. Most pilots are somewhat Type A with strong personalities and opinions. Lock 2 of them up in a cockpit for hours and it can be a problem. Fortunately most pilots (like Chris) are professional and respectful so it’s not an issue the vast majority of the time.

I’ll bore you with a quick history lesson. Back in the late 70’s/early 80’s United Airlines suffered a few crashes of perfectly good airplanes and wanted to figure out why? They determined that it was the very traditional “Capt is God” mentality that was pervasive in the industry and didn’t permit input from the other crewmembers who in many cases could’ve saved the day. CRM was created and the main focus was to empower the FO’s and SO’s to speak up. The idea was not to degrade the Capts authority but to elevate him/her to a managerial position. An unfortunate side effect was many of these newly empowered FOs believe they’re “Co-Capts” and will challenge the Capts not only pertaining to safety where it’s warranted, but on everything. The Capts then push back and the next thing you know we have an issue.

Fortunately as I said early the solution is simple. Both pilots need to treat eachother with respect and behave as professionals. That and don’t discuss politics :slight_smile:

Adam