The safety of UK helicopter operations was recently highlighted by the Civil Aviation Authority, after the assessment of 25 offshore helicopter accidents from 1992-2013. The majority of the causal factors identified (73%) were linked to pilot performance. Crew Resource Management (CRM) training was developed to enhance operational efficiency, improve safety, enhance resilience and enable high levels of work performance during flight. However, there are a number of factors that could influence the effectiveness of training and the extent to which behaviours are performed. In the current global climate one of the key factors of concern for aviation companies is the influence of cultural differences, both national and professional, on crew resource management attitudes and behaviours. There is a lack of research examining this issue, and yet cultural conflict has the potential to adversely impact flight safety.
The focus of the proposed research will be on the examination of the impact of culture on helicopter flight safety. The aim will be to identify the key impacts of culture on CRM behaviours both within the cockpit and in interactions with team members outside the cockpit (such as maintenance and air traffic control).
The project will utilise a mixed methods approach, with a combination of questionnaire, observation, interviews and experimental protocols to address the main research questions:
- To what extent does cultural variation (professional and national) influence CRM behaviours of employees within the same organisation?
- Does cultural background influence acceptance and application of CRM training elements?
- Should CRM training be tailored to different cultural groups?
The results of the project will begin to explore a new avenue of CRM-based research; the impact of different cultural variations on the safety and co-ordination of helicopter flight crews.