CRM/TEM: Refresher Training (A Peek at the Plan)

By MR. MARK ALTENBURG, HQ AMC CRM/TEM DIRECTOR

Suppose that earlier today you found out that you are on the slate for refresher training later this week—yeah, just what you wanted, more training. This training, however, focuses on how you perform during an actual mission (well, as much as is possible in a simulator) from a Crew Resource Management1 Threat and Error Management2 (CRM/TEM) perspective. We used to refer to the CRM/TEM Refresher classroom training as “G230” and the related simulator training as “G240” (commonly known as “MOST”— mission-oriented simulator training). The new ARMS (automated records management system) codes are “GD27Y” and “GX29Y,” respectively.

Whatever the name or code, it is the content of the CRM/TEM training that matters most. We know that there are six principal CRM skills, the overall TEM concept, and a host of TEM tools that can be stressed during the training. Realizing the myriad possible highlighted topics and that refresher training lasts only a few hours, how do administrators and courseware developers decide what to emphasize during the CRM/TEM Refresher Training? This article focuses on the answer to this complex question.

SCOPE

Let us first look at the scope of the issue. The six principal CRM skills are always important, and each should be covered on a recurring basis. Given training time constraints, however, which skills should be the topic(s) for the training: Mission Analysis? Situational Awareness? Risk Management/ Decision-making? Crew/Flight Coordination? Task Management? Also, we cannot overlook Communication skills, because they are essential for every safe and effective operation.

We also need to address TEM because TEM tools are used in concert with CRM skills. As you may remember, this aviation standard is foundational for keeping our missions safe by promoting vigilance versus complacency. It is achieved by implementing an active, continuous process of identifying and preparing for threats, as well as identifying and repairing errors at the earliest opportunity.

Our new CRM/TEM model (below) depicts how this is done. Mission Effectiveness and Safe Operations represent the desired operating environment. As crewmembers encounter operational threats3 or make errors,4 there is a potential to move away from the desired operating environment. Unmitigated, the result may be an undesired aircraft state5 (UAS)—possibly leading to a mishap. The practical application of CRM/TEM skills and strategies creates a proactive pathway, returning crewmembers to Mission Effectiveness and Safe Operations.

Mission Effectiveness and Safe Operations

CRM Skills
Mission Analysis
Situational Awareness
Risk Management/Decision-making
Communication
Crew/Flight Coordination
Task Management

POTENTIAL SOURCES

Now that we have scoped the issue, let us talk about the sources for potential CRM/TEM Refresher Training topics. First off, we will look at Mobility Air Forces (MAF) data-gathering sources, such as Aviation Safety Action Program6 (ASAP) reports, Military Flight Operations Quality Assurance (MFOQA) analysis, and Air Mobility Command (AMC) Form 4031 analysis.

ASAP reports—known as “ASAPs”— are invaluable insights into the issues our aircrews face daily. ASAPs run the breadth of possible concerns, essentially dealing with threats to our aircrews (for example, formal guidance issues, aircraft-related, air traffic control [ATC]-associated issues) or errors our aircrews make (for example, aircraft overspeed, improperly run checklists). Although they are highly encouraged because of the wealth of information gleaned from them, AMC does not mandate ASAP reporting. With this in mind and knowing that ASAPs are periodic in nature and situational, they are not truly “trend-able.” They can, however, be regarded from a severity and timeline/recurring sense.

In addition to ASAPs, CRM/TEM Refresher Training is often based on or supported by MFOQA analysis.7 AMC’s non-punitive MFOQA Program analyzes routine flight data to detect, measure, and mitigate mishap precursors while protecting crewmember identity. MFOQA analysis uses data procured from the aircraft to determine trended areas of concern. MFOQA truly exemplifies the maxim: The MFOQA information flow aggregates data from multiple flights before processing that data through customized software and searches for trends that point to unsafe latent conditions, such as poorly designed procedures, normalization of deviance, or unsafe external conditions. Besides the routine analysis of aircraft/ flight-related issues, AMC’s MFOQA team—in partnership with AMC Standard, Evaluation & Readiness Division (A3V), AMC Flight Operations Division (A3T), and other agencies—have established Mission Design Series (MDS)-specific flight safety alerts (FSAs). FSAs are significant negative trends that diverge from established, safety-minded, military aviation practices. In effect, FSAs are aggregated UASs, established to make aircrews aware of the considerable risks the aforementioned unsafe practices pose.

If you don’t measure it, you can’t understand it. If you don’t understand it, you can’t manage it. If you don’t manage it, it will manage you!

The remaining primary MAF data-gathering source related to this endeavor is via the AMC Form 4031, CRM/TEM Skills Criteria Training/ Evaluation.8 This form analyzes aircrew performance by assessing our six CRM skills in addition to the many applicable TEM aspects. The “4031” gathers 12 non-Personally Identifiable Information crewmember demographics, which, combined with the aforementioned CRM/TEM assessments, enable the trending of human factors information related to aircrew performance. Alongside empirical data, the 4031 garners comments that frequently provide situationally affected portrayals.

In addition to MAF data-gathering sources, AMC looks toward other military and civilian resources for potential CRM/TEM Refresher Training topics. Often, MAF instructors and evaluators (civilian and military) relate their concerns regarding how aircrew members react during specific situations. Such invaluable insights can be coupled with MFOQA analysis and other data to determine the potential topic’s severity and significance.

WAYS TO SUBMIT AN ASAP

ASAP Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) App. The EFB ASAP App icon is titled, “Airman Safety App,” and, assuming the user is provisioned to the Scott server, the app will already be loaded. Note: Although users can complete an ASAP via the EFB App, they must be connected to broadband to submit the report.

ASAP App (using an iPhone or Android personal electronic device). To obtain the app, search for “Airmen Safety App” at App Store (iPhone) or Google Play (Android).

ASAP website: https://asap.safety.af.mil

On occasion, domestic and international regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization, raise concerns regarding how aircraft are flown. Although such concerns are primarily intended for civilian aviation, a significant number of these issues also apply to military operators. AMC learns of these through various means, such as FAA Advisory Circulars and the biannual FAA-sponsored Aviation Safety InfoShare.

AMC is also made aware of worldwide aviation concerns through participation in mutually beneficial data/information-sharing efforts, such as the Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing system, as well as the FAA Air Carrier Training Aviation Rulemaking Committee, which oversees the Flight Path Management Working Group (FPMWG). In addition to other issues, the working group was formed to address FAA fears that pilots may not be adequately trained regarding energy management while flying complex standard terminal arrivals. The FPMWG also tackled FAA concerns that pilots can become vulnerable to unintended outcomes while using intricate information flight-related automation systems (for example, Aircraft Communication Addressing and Reporting System, Flight Management System, Electronic Flight Display, and Controller Pilot Data Link Communications) that might foster distraction, increased workload, skill degradation, lack of engagement, or lack of system understanding.

To Obtain Information from Existing ASAPs

Go to AFSAS Home Page: https://afsas.safety.af.mil/

METHODOLOGY

Knowing the scope of the relevant topics for CRM/TEM Refresher Training and understanding the many sources of functional analysis, we can now address methodology related to the frequency of issues. Although every CRM/TEM topic is aircrew pertinent, some topics are also time sensitive.

Such was the case in 2017-2019 regarding the topic of Rejected Takeoffs (RTO).9 In short, a significant number of RTOs were occurring across the MAF in which the aircraft commander’s decision to perform an RTO (as opposed to continuing the takeoff) might be of concern. AMC was made aware of the issue via Safety Investigation Boards and several ASAPs. AMC’s talented MFOQA gurus completed significant analysis across all MDSs to support the need for “RTO Decision Making” as a significant topic within CRM/TEM Refresher Training. To add further value to the training, AMC’s Pilot Monitoring Working Group, in cooperation with AMC/ A3V and other agencies, determined and provided “RTO/Continue Takeoff Considerations” for each MDS, complete with defined “low-speed/high-speed” regimes. These considerations and speed regimes were added to the CY2019 CRM/TEM Refresher Training.

CRM SKILLS
Communication (CY2019) Risk Management/Decision-making
(CY2016, CY2018 Go-Around, CY2019 RTO)
Crew/Flight Coordination (CY2017) Situational Awareness (CY2018)
Mission Analysis (CY2019) Task Management (CY2020)
TEM-RELEVANT TOPICS
Airmanship (CY2011) Information Automation (CY2021)
Airspeed Awareness (CY2020) MFOQA (CY2011)
ASAP Reporting, (CY2020)
ASAP (CY2011)
PM Effectiveness (CY2020, CY2018,
CY2015, CY2014, CY2013)
Assertiveness (CY2017) Stabilized Approaches (CY2014, CY2013)
Checklist Discipline (CY2012) Systems (CY2012)
Debriefing (CY2015) TEM Fundamental Principles
(CY2015, CY2014, CY2011, CY2021)
Flight Discipline (CY2011) TEM Model (CY2020, CY2021)
Go-Around Decision-making (CY2018) RTO Decision-making (CY2019)
Individual Performance (CY2012) Verbalize, Verify, and Monitor (CY2015, CY2013)

CONCLUSION

Undoubtedly, aircrew members have a lot to cover during their CRM/TEM Refresher Training while improving their learned CRM skills and effectively employing appropriate TEM tools. AMC continues to do its part by prudently weighing numerous pertinent topics regarding relevance and timeliness for possible inclusion in CRM/TEM Refresher Training. The table on this page depicts the principal yearly CRM/ TEM topics from 2011-2021.

In parting, the choice of topics is influenced by many sources, with each topic having its own significant merit. At the end of the day, however, it is vitally important that CRM/TEM Refresher Training stays packed with the meaningful and timely information our aircrews need to help ensure missions stay effective and operationally safe—especially as we fly within today’s very demanding environments.

Now, let’s get at that training!

AIRCREW MEMBERS, AIRCREW INSTRUCTORS, AND AIRCREW EVALUATORS

If you have a CRM/TEM-related topic that might be relevant, please send an email with Subject: CRM/TEM Refresher Training Topic

to: a3.opsrams@us.af.mil

Your insights might make a considerable difference to our aircrews!

1. Crew Resource Management (CRM) Perspective—The effective use of CRM is harnessing all available resources (people, weapons systems, facilities, equipment, and environment) by individuals or crews to safely and efficiently accomplish an assigned mission or task.

2. Threat and Error Management (TEM)—An aviation industry-recognized best practice, TEM is a structured, proactive systems approach that builds on multiple layers of defenses and applies to all single and multi-seat aircraft operators, flight, and crew members. TEM is intuitively, logically, and flexibly designed to identify, avoid, trap (allay), and mitigate threats and/or inevitable human errors to avoid undesired aircraft states (UAS), mission failure, and potential mishaps.

3. Threat—An event or error that occurs outside the aircrew’s influence (i.e., it was not caused by the crew), which increases operational complexity and must be managed to maintain safety margins and requires crew attention. All threats have the potential to negatively affect flight operations.

4. Errors—Actions or inactions that lead to deviations from organizational or flight crew intentions or expectations, reduce safety margins, and increase the probability of adverse operational events on the ground or in flight. Unmanaged and/or mismanaged errors can lead to an undesired aircraft state. Errors in the operational context tend to reduce safety margins and increase the probability of adverse events.

5. Undesired Aircraft State (UAS)—Operational conditions in which an unintended situation results in a reduction in safety margins. A UAS is the result of ineffective TEM and may lead to a mishap.

6. Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP)— ASAP is an identity-protected, self-reporting system that is integral to reducing mishaps and improving operations and training. ASAP is designed for Airmen to report information and concepts critical to resolving mishap precursors and share this information across AF aviation communities. The data are used to reduce mishaps through operational, logistic, maintenance, training, and procedural enhancements.

7. Ongoing MFOQA analysis can be found at EFB: “MFOQA” folder for the respective MDS AMC eim: https://eim2.amc.af.mil/org/a3t/A3TO/ CRM%20TEM/MFOQA/SitePages/Home.aspx milSuite: https://www.milsuite.mil/book/ community/spaces/amc/a3/a3t/opsrams AFSAS: https://afsas.safety.af.mil/publications/ ViewPublication.do?publication_id=22 Ops RAMS Newsletter: https://eim2.amc. af.mil/org/a3t/A3TO/default.aspx

8. As a minimum, the AMC Form 4031 must be used (for all crew positions) after aircrew members complete GD27Y/GX29Y training events or when substandard CRM/TEM performance is noted during an evaluation.

9. Interestingly, during this time frame, the domestic aviation industry also was concerned about RTOs.