Applied Sciences

Crew Resource Management and Situational Awareness

ASCI 516

Module 5 Presentation

Overview of Situational Awareness (SA)


Components of SA

CRM skills that aid in situational awareness

Threats to SA

Prevention methods to enhance SA

Theory of the Situation

A set of beliefs about what is happening and what action an individual should take.

Based on the interpretation of available information.

Based on individual’s perception of reality

Reality of the Situation

What is actual reality, without human perception

Theory of Practice

An individual’s concepts and skills developed over time, used to build and respond to Theories of the Situation

The sum of experience

Theory of the Situation

You are MOST likely to change your theory of the situation when:

Operating under low stress

Have access to and accept feedback

Develop inquiry skills into your Theory of Practice. Guard against interpreting information to support your Theory of the Situation

Theory of the Situation

You are LEAST likely to change your theory of the situation when:

Your Theory of Practice is over-learned

You have a complacent attitude

It is a crisis situation

The theory of the situation is central to your self-esteem/ego.

Got SA???

Situation Awareness is an accurate perception of the factors and conditions currently affecting the safe operation of the aircraft and crew.

(ICAO & Industry CFIT Task Force).


Defining SA

Situational assessment is defined as the process of achieving situation awareness. It is the process of information acquisition and interpretation that leads to the product defined as situation awareness

Adams, Tenney and Pew, 1995

Awareness Is the Result of Multiple Situational Assessment

Observation of Situation

Comparing observation with:

Other Observations



Seeking More Information

Situational Assessment on Three Levels

Perception: Failure to correctly perceive the situation

Integration of Information:

Failure to integrate or comprehend the information

Projection: Failure to project situation into the future

Pilot Elements of Situational Awareness

Experience and Training

Physical Flying Skills

CRM Skills (Teamwork)

Spatial Orientation

Health and Attitude


Operational Clues to Loss of Situational Awareness

Terrible Eleven

Incomplete Communications


Unresolved Discrepancies

Use of Undocumented Procedures


Operational Clues to Loss of Situational Awareness

Terrible Eleven

Preoccupation or Fixation

No One Flying

No One Looking



Operational Clues to Loss of Situational Awareness

Terrible Eleven

Deviations from SOP’s

Violations of Limits and Regulations

Failure to Meet Targets



Maintain Control – Fly the aircraft.

Create Time & Space – minimize the impact of any errors or threats by avoiding critical flight segments until ready.



Maintain Control – Fly the Aircraft. Or delegate someone to with specific actions.

Minimise any errors by a safe, conservative approach: Create Time and Space – Climb! Put distance between yourself and the ground or a possible accident window . Put the aircraft at a safe altitude. Enter the hold. Get back to SOPs

Assess the Problem in the Time Available. Re-evaluate use the CLEAR model to:

Gather Information from all sources.

Assess All the Options & Choose the Best.

Monitor the Results – Alter Plan as Required.

CRM Skills That Increase Situation Awareness



Preparations and Planning



Ability to create a team climate:




Assigning Tasks

Re-assigning Tasks

Workload Management



Consciousness – a result of perceiving

Observation – a mental image

What Do You See?

Chances are you’ve seen this example before, but it clearly shows that things can be perceived differently in a given situation.

Having a shared mental model and getting everyone’s input when time permits makes for improved SA and better decision making


Not the amount but quality

Verbalizing information to other crewmembers on the team about actions being taken, actions planning to take, and giving information they need you do two things.

Other crewmembers are aware of what is going on from your perceptive.

If your actions are indicators that you are not “up” on the situation, gives crewmembers an opportunity to help correct an ill-advised action.


Good communications for situation awareness includes confessing to a loss of awareness.

Preparation and Planning

Know taxi routes

Know about other crewmembers

Knowledge about items in cockpit

Knowledge departure plan

Level of automation


Who will handle emergencies

Handout preflight planning


Open to information that suggests plans need to be changed

Need to recognize when plan is not working

Recognizing that they need to alter their own tasks to assist a crewmember who may be having a problem

Situational Awareness

Skill and experience are no guarantee of protection!


Threats to Situational Awareness


High workload

Poor information processing

Non-Standard situations

Unplanned situations

Untested assumptions


USAF Causes – Threats to Situation Awareness

Task saturation


Channelized Attention

Inattention (Attention Treats)



Negative Transfer

Inappropriate Motivation


Misdirected Peer Pressure

Supervisor Pressure

Real Time Situational Awareness

Flying tasks require a mixture of:

Habit patterns

Conscious processing

Actions in accordance with habit patterns vulnerable to negative habit transfer

General Conclusions (SOLO)

Two tasks requiring a high degree of conscious processing cannot be performed concurrently

Two tasks that are largely automated may be performed together

Two tasks requiring a mixture of conscious and automatic processing is difficult

Research Findings

Activities found to distract or preoccupy pilots include:


Searching for VMC traffic

Responding to abnormal situations

Head-down work


88% of all U.S. air carrier accidents are caused by a break down in situational awareness

50% of all international air carrier accidents are caused by a break down in situational awareness


Preflight briefings

Automating systems and warning alerts

SOP’s and checklists

Wording in a Typical Flight Ops Manual

“Crewmembers must be alert to the indicators of lost or degraded situational awareness and must announce the presence of those indicators when detected”

Team or Crew Situational Awareness

Team situational awareness involves two critical but poorly understood abstractions: individual situational awareness and team processes in a highly interactive relationship

Salas, Price, Baker and Shrestha, 1995

SA & The Shared Mental Model

“Curvaceous, seductive, compelling, lofty, cool, and waiting to be conquered”

After reading this statement, visualize an image in your mind…

Was this the image you had in your mind?

Shared Mental Model and Situational Awareness

Situational Awareness

An accurate perception of:

What has happened

What is going on now

What might happen

Situational Awareness is the realistic understanding of all factors which affect the safety and effectiveness of the aircraft.

Where you were!

Where you are!

Where you are going!



What is SA… let audience respond. With regard to what?

Time Space Fuel Switches

Wx Obstacles Terrain Geographics (destin.)

Crew Day etc. etc. etc.

…All factors.

Key Elements of Situational Awareness

Spatial orientation/attitude

Orientation of proximate traffic

Orientation with respect to time

Geographic orientation – with respect to terrain, lateral and vertical navigation.

Threat status

Aircraft maintenance status

Flight concept

Aircraft status

CRM Principle – S.A.

What do you do when you suspect you have lost S.A.?






EAL401 EVERGLADES classic case study of loss of SA.

Situational Awareness

Maintaining Situational Awareness

Aviate, Navigate, Communicate: Prioritize

Maintain Overall mission focus – avoid or limit distractions, don’t fixate

Recognize clues to the loss of Situational Awareness and take immediate action to restore a high level of Situational Awareness

Practicing Good SA

Maintain ongoing awareness of mission status

Alert other crew members to operational and environmental conditions

Maintain focus on central problems despite distractions

Alert other crew members to conditions ahead of aircraft

Select instrument and FMC displays for information relevant to the phase of flight


Flags of Lost Situational Awareness

NASA and the FAA studied 30 major airline accidents and the average number of flags in each mishap was seven, the least being four and the most being nine.

No one is communicating

No one is flying the plane

Deviating from standards

Violating minimums



Failure to meet targets

Not addressing discrepancies


Loss of SA “Red Flags”

Listed in Your CRM Textbook

Not communicating

No one flying the A/C

Change of habit/patterns

Violating policy/procedure minimum

Stress (fatigue, down shifting, tunnel vision)


Not maintaining Shared Mental Model

Not addressing discrepancies


Complacency – High cockpit automation


Processing Modes

CONTROLLED — Processing is under conscious control; responses

are executed while pondering the situation and required actions.

RULE-BASED — Processing happens when familiar problems are

encountered for which specific procedures are memorized.

AUTOMATIC — Processing occurs with little conscious awareness

and uses pre-programmed response sequences.




Attention Failures

INATTENTION — Not paying attention to relevant tasks

HABITUATION — Automatically performing wrong action

CHANNELIZATION — Task fixation, ignoring pertinent data

DISTRACTION — Momentary diversion of attention from task

TASK OVERLOAD — Saturation, demand exceed capabilities


Control Action Errors

OMISSION – Forget to operate/set a control

SUBSTITUTION – Confusing controls devices

ADJUSTMENT – Over/Under controlling function

REVERSAL – Confusing control settings

MISACTIVATION – Unintentional control operation

OUTSIDE REACH – Awkward control operation




Some attentional factors which could lead to a loss of SA:

Not monitoring the situation



Monitoring the wrong information



Not correctly interpreting the situation

Visual Illusions

Spatial Disorientation

Ways To Improve Situation Awareness


[ ] Proficiency training, instrument scan, cross-checks, flight planning,

and crew resource management.

[ ] Improve critical indicators (gauges, advisory, and warning displays).

[ ] Reduce cockpit distractions (e.g., during critical mission phases).

[ ] Rehearse cockpit “switchology”, conduct “blind-cockpit” drills,

and confirm switch settings.

[ ] Follow established task sequences/procedures, and use required


[ ] Be alert to aircraft cockpit differences (e.g., type/model/series)

[ ] Maintain “emotional control” by managing stress, fatigue, and


Tips for Good Situational Awareness

Plan for contingencies

Create visual & aural reminders

Be alert for clues to loss of SA

Speak up!

Tips for Good Situational Awareness

Determine and assign crew roles

Develop a plan

Solicit Input from others

Rotate your attention

Monitor and update your plan

Indicator Symptom Example

Ambiguity Sources of info disagree Air Florida 737
Preoccupation Fixating on one task EAL L-1011@MIA
Not communicating Not asking for or offering input, not talking/listening WAL DC-10 @MXO
Confusion Doubt about the situation, thinking “this is stupid” NW DC-9@DTW
Violating Policy/Procedure minimums Exceeding established limits FAA N-62
Failure to meet or set targets Lack of planning, scheduling and prioritizing UAL DC-8@PDX
Not addressing problems Unresolved confusion, doubts, concerns and unmet targets Avianca 707@JFK




Focus on the right information at the right time.

Avoid tuning radios, completing paperwork, or performing other cockpit tasks while moving on the surface.


If something doesn’t look or feel right, it probably isn’t.

Don’t ignore feelings of uneasiness; there’s probably a reason for them.


Watch out when you’re busy or bored.

Be more vigilant during high (approach and landing) or low (cruise) workloads.


Habits are hard to break.

Be cautious during abnormal situations requiring abnormal habit patterns.


Expectation can reduce awareness.

Expectation may bias pilot’s hearing/sight; ensure clearances are really as expected.

Things that take longer are less likely to get done right.

Longer tasks more subject to interruption; forgetting to stop fuel cross-feeding.


Reliable systems aren’t always reliable.

Human nature to reduce reliable system monitoring; FMS & glass cockpit failures can occur.


It’s hard to detect something that isn’t there.

Absence difficult to detect, such as lack of confirmation that a task was completed.


Automation keeps secrets.

Difficult to detect erroneous FMS entries.


Distractions come in many forms.

Paperwork, flight attendants, company radio, ATC communications, etc…

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