Journal of Aviation/Aerospace Education & Research





Key words

crew resource management, bias literacy, psychological safety, interpersonal communication, threat and error management


This research analyzed the perceptions of interpersonal skills on established aviation safety models, Crew Resource Management (CRM), and Threat and Error Management (TEM) using feedback from industry pilots. The flight deck is a sociotechnical system where much research has focused on the technical aspect, whereas we spotlight its socio aspect. The aviation industry must invest in training pilots on interpersonal skills to enhance safety through increased efficacy of safety models integrated throughout existing training programs. A 34-question survey was disseminated across both commercial and business aviation pilots (N=822). We explored three research questions regarding pilots’ perceived training on interpersonal skills and Federal Aviation Administration-recommended training content as well as the impact of psychological safety on the efficacy of CRM. Safety models lost efficacy when an individual felt a reduction in team psychological safety. Pilots experiencing reduced psychological safety within the flight deck were less likely to admit mistakes, share safety concerns, or ask for help. While regulatory authorities recommend interpersonal skills training, feedback from industry pilots revealed a perceived training gap. The results of this research demonstrate that interpersonal skills training (e.g., bias literacy, psychological safety, and interpersonal communication) is correlated with overall safety in the flight deck as it enhances the ability to activate safety voice, a necessary, albeit lacking, aspect of current industry safety models. Our findings apply both within flight decks, and other safety-sensitive, time-critical, dyadic environments in high-reliability industries, such as nuclear power plants, and healthcare.



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