USING APPROPRIATE ATTITUDES (Kern, 2001)
Anyone who has sat the FAA written exams has heard of the five hazardous attitudes and their antidotes. Anyone who has not will! The idea is for individuals to recognize hazardous attitudes and to change them before taking action. However, either the word is not getting out or this is just too difficult for many humans to do as accidents and incidents still occur due to the less that sound actions of individuals.
Control, from a CRM perspective, refers to one�s inner control or self-control. The quality of this control depends very much on an individuals motivation; some motivations lend themselves to a solid base of professionalism, and others are potentially haz�ardous. What we must do is develop the skill to identify hazardous attitudes, and modify them. To do this we first need to have the desire to modify them and we need a plan to counteract it if it would have a negative impact.
The Five Hazardous Attitudes
Humans naturally like to be in charge, to control their own destiny. However, we all must abide by the rules and use all available resources to safely accomplish the task. These resources include the valuable opinions of other crewmembers, and technologies such as GPWS, computer programs and even e-mail. These resources are not trying to take control or do your work for you, they are merely trying to aid you in achieving your aims in a safe and efficient manner � they are resources. Consider the following ASRS report:
“NO MACHINE TELLS ME WHAT TO DO!”
Reporter: Second officer, ASRS # 381995
We experienced a near midair collision because the captain refused to adhere to company policy regarding a TCAS alert. This is how it happened. I was the second officer on a 727 flight between two domestic airfields. On climb out from our departure field, the departure controllers apparently had a shift change (a male voice was replaced by a female voice). The new controller cleared us to continue climbing from our present altitude of 9000 feet. Even though all three of us in the cockpit appeared to be aware of the traffic that the TCAS II displayed five miles in front of us at 9500 feet (a VFR alti�tude), the captain began a climb.
The TCAS II immediately responded with a “TRAFFIC” “TRAFFIC” alert. The captain continued to climb in spite of my verbal objections. The TCAS II then switched modes and alerted, “DESCEND NOW” “DESCEND NOW.” The captain ignored the warnings and continued to climb even though I was telling him to descend and none of us had the traffic in sight. As the TCAs target merged with our aircraft symbol on the display, the captain abruptly turned left, which probably prevented a collision.
When we queried the controller about the traffic, she said that there was none on her scope, but about a minute later, we heard her attempting to contact “VFR traffic at 9500 feet just north of Orlando.”
There were two causes of the near mishap. Departure control cleared us to climb through VFR traffic’s altitude and the captain failed to respond appropriately to TCAS II warn�ings despite the objections of other crewmembers. CRM is still a big factor in airline cockpits.
The antiauthority �antidote�
Humans seem to be �afraid that by taking an input from someone that they are at risk of losing control or command and the danger is that, in defense, we may over control. Maybe the feeling of �I know better� is a strong influence and we may do exactly the opposite of what is being suggested � just to show who�s boss! Or maybe it�s just the very idea of taking orders from a machine that triggers a hazardous response. Whatever the reasons that lie behind an antiauthority behavior pattern, it needs to be identified and adapted to or overcome. When you start thinking in an anti-authority way, say to yourself �Rules are there for a reason.�
This is an attitude that we all should be familiar with � the desire to prove to others what we can do better than anyone else; this is especially true with many pilots. It is good to be confident in what you do, but we must learn to recognize the fine line between confidence and showing off. Ironically, dual instructor crews are often most vulnerable to this hazardous attitude. Even with all of their accumulated experience, two instructors are often tempted to engage in a battle of egos in the cock�pit, often resulting in unhealthy competition where flight discipline is the first casualty (Kern, 2001). Another ASRS report may illustrate this trait well:
“I’M THE MAN!”
Reporter: First officer, ASRS # 369082
After takeoff in our 727, we were cleared to FL 330. During the climb, the primary hydraulic system “A” failed. We turned back towards the departure field and began the emergency procedures checklist. The captain, who was at that time the pilot flying, turned the aircraft over to me to fly, navigate, and talk on the radios. During the descent, there were several altitude deviations and autopilot mode changes, as well as some hand flying. The captain-who has a very strong personality who really doesn’t solicit or feel he needs other crewmembers’ ideas-was in and out of several checklists. He did not finish the emergency procedures checklist, partially because he was making many PA announcements to the passengers-including several below 1000 feet AGL and inside of 5-mile final while he was flying! He was just generally a one-man show. I’m sure that if he could have gotten to it, he would have manually cranked down the gear also.
He was very proud of his one-man show and was quick to stand in the door to take full credit when the passengers deplaned. CRM is not a term he readily uses or understands. He runs a local flying club, so he’s used to running the entire show and being around those who are minimally qualified. He feels that other crewmembers are there to serve him.
Some day he will get overloaded, not recognize it, and get into trouble. Phrases like “What do you think” or “Are you comfortable with this?” are not in his vocabulary. He says, “This is your leg” and then decides the flap setting and power setting for takeoff. Controlling and self-centered he is, and this makes for an uncomfortable professional cockpit. Fortunately, he is a very capable pilot.
The machismo �antidote�
First of all, machismo is not an attitude restricted to the male gender! Real �machismo� is characterized by humble confidence, not “I can do it all” arrogance. So we must let our actions show a confident yet professional approach to all situations in the workplace � normal or abnormal. Colleagues will still be impresses when they see what a reliable, safe and professional operator you are. There are two words regarded as the most dangerous in aviation – “Watch this!”. The thing to say here is �Taking chances is foolish�
Disaster or bad luck always happens to the other per�son, but never to you right? As ifc to reinforce this belief, the many close calls experienced turn into an endorsement of one�s invulnerability rather than a warning alarm of danger. People with this kind of attitude are prime candidates for disaster.
The invulnerability attitude often develops over time, probably after having had several close encounters and sur�vived. In addition, the more experience we have, the more susceptible we are likely to be to this hazardous attitude. An accident has no thought process, only cause, thyus �it� doesn’t care if you are brand new on the job or if you have 30 years of experience. Here is another ASRS report to illustrate this attitude:
�IT CAN’T HAPPEN TO ME�
Reporter: Pilot in command, ASRS # 416425
We were parked at Midland, International in Texas when we started to taxi out for a local photo flight. The taxiway was closed for “Air show use only” and aircraft were parked on both sides of the taxiway. There was room, but not much, so we had a marshaller. The JU-S2 does not have a steerable tailwheel, and it is difficult to taxi on a calm day. This day gave us a I6-knot wind to deal with and that increased our radius of turn. I had another pilot with me, and we both felt “uncomfortable,” but neither of us was saying anything. We started a ISO-degree turn to taxi out in extremely tight con�ditions when my left wing struck the cowling of an unmanned T-6. Even though we both felt uneasy, no one advocated, “don’t do it”-a typical CRM failure.
The invulnerability �antidote�
Most people have a developed sense of survival and a healthy regard for many dangerous things in life and do not really believe that it is impossible for disaster to befall them. However, despite this many of us fail to recognize danger in time simply because we are not expecting it. What we must do is take note of all those things that happen to �the other guy� and realize that every year, in our profession, more than one person loses his or her life due to an avoidable accident. Then all we need to do is realize4 that hey, that could have happened to me! Easy, right�
Now we may get lucky and survive situations we should have avoided, but to be really safe we should not be looking at it in hindsight � we should have recognized the situation developing and avoided it in the first place! Beware of such thought like �well, I made it the last time so I�ll be OK this time�. What should you remind yourself if you find yourself starting to think you�re invulnerable? �It can happen to me!�
Almost the opposite of invulnerabil�ity is impulsiveness. Humans can be hasty because, as controllers, we want to take charge, and this often leads to situations where we act impetuously. This is especially true when we are confronted with situations that have no clear-cut answer. We want to make a deci�sion and we want to make it NOW, and yet we may not have all of the required information to make the call. (Kern, 2001)
As with the others, the best way to illustrate this is with an example from the ASRS:
A QUICK DECISION TO GO
Reporter: First officer, ASRS # 421456
We were pushing back from the gate with an FAA mainte�nance inspector on the jump seat when we had a nose gear unsafe warning light illuminate. We returned to gate and had a micro switch adjusted and then resumed pushback. The same problem occurred again, so we returned and had the micro switch replaced, which solved the problem. During taxi out, we set takeoff flaps and the configuration warning horn sounded continuously until thrust levers were advanced beyond idle. We called our maintenance control to advise them of new problem and they said they didn’t know what was causing the problem, but if we thought it was seri�ous we should return to gate, but left the decision up to us.
The captain decided to taxi out to runway, saying that it was not a real concern because we knew we were properly configured and the horn was silenced when power was advanced. He wanted to take off, adding that he would abort takeoff if any unsafe warning occurred during the takeoff roll. I told the captain I was not at all comfortable departing in an aircraft with a known problem, however insignificant it may have appeared, but he chose to accept a takeoff clearance anyway and we departed without incident.
Upon configuring for landing at our destination, the con�figuration warning horn again sounded continuously as we extended flaps, although all indications were otherwise nor�mal. We landed without incident and wrote the problem up and the aircraft was grounded until the micro switch that was replaced was found to be misadjusted. I think the cap�tain’s decision was influenced by the fact that we were fly�ing with a full airplane and almost every passenger was making a connection. He was concerned that they would be stranded if the flight canceled.
I later spoke to the FAA inspector about the situation and he said he was pleased that I voiced my concern to the cap�tain. He was more concerned, however, with the way main�tenance control handled the problem. He and I felt that they should have insisted that we return to gate for repairs instead of putting the decision back upon us. I don’t feel that the captain ever considered any CRM factors in his decision, and I certainly did not use all available to me, i.e., simply refusing to go along with his poor and impulsive decision.
The impulsiveness �antidote�
In reality, workplace decisions seldom require immediate decisions or action. There is time to properly analyze the situation and think before you act � allow the adrenaline to dissipate. The analysis and decision process may need to be carried out quickly but we have procedures and checklists to help us with this. In these situations the phrase is �Slow down� � or �Fly the plane�
Often humans find themselves in a situation where they are tempted to just give up – “what’s the use”; this trait is one of the hazardous attitudes and is called resignation. However, in most circumstances the human survival instinct kicks in � but not always. There are many recorded tragic accidents or deaths that have occurred because someone simply gave up. In the aviation industry we cannot afford to give up; frus�tration and anger at the situation can exist but must be overcome. After all, would you just let go of the steering wheel in your car if the situation looked too difficult? If the answer is yes�.. well!
There are, of course, times when situations seemingly get out of control; loss of situational awareness, aircraft malfunc�tions, weather etc. The actions needed at that moment are those that will bring the situation back under control. The situation itself will dictate what options are available, but giving up is not one of them. Everyone has probably been in a situation where they have readily agreed to a course of action. Not because they do agree with it, b ut simply because figuring out all of the options and forming an opinion just seems to difficult, there is not enough time, you are too tired or some other reason. You become resigned to the situation � you have given up. If ATC gives an instruction to a pilot and the pilot feels he or she cannot comply with it, the response should be �Unable�, not �Affirmative�!!
The resignation �antidote�
Avoidance is obviously the best way to keep from falling into the resignation trap. Think planning – always leave yourself an “out” or a �plan B�. We must also learn how to be proactive when things change, always looking ahead and anticipating. This way, we always have a �plan B� and, more importantly, we maintain control, the very thing that humans just hate to feel they are losing. In every situation you have two options; give up, not work at a solution, and let fate take its course, or realize that you are never helpless and that you can make a difference.
A classic example of a crew that avoided this hazardous attitude was United Flight 232, where a DC-IO experienced a complete loss of hydraulics and flight controls. One pilot on this remarkable flight commented that as he sought solutions to this previously unseen problem, he recalled the words of his flight instructor who told him, “Never give up-try something, anything, but don’t ever give up.” The crew of United Flight 232 never said, “What’s the use.” Instead, they realized that they could-and eventually did-make a difference. Let’s now turn to the biggest challenge for the experienced aviator-complacency. (Kern, 2001)
There are other attitudes that have been identified in accidents that at first look do not fit into one of the five categories. However, a closer look tells you that they do but usually into more than one so they have often been given different names. The following are some examples.
Not a word you would find in the dictionary, but most people have heard of this affliction. Pressing-on has resulted in a large number of critical judgment errors, all in the name of “getting the job done”. However, sometimes the “can do” is quite simply inappropriate, or even lethal. How about pilots pressing the lateral distance limits from thunderstorms to get through to their destinations? Or “scud-running” whilst flying VFR in an attempt to stay out of the weather by
hanging just under the ragged edge of a bad weather system? Fun , yes, but also dangerous.
In commercial aviation there is a great deal of pressure to make “on-time takeoffs” which brings additional pressure to bear on everyone, not just pilots. The following ASRS report is an example of a captain succumbing to this pressure (Kern, 2001).
“IT’S PROBABLY OK.”
Reporter: Second officer, ASRS # 400725
Following the announcement to prepare the cabin of our 727 for departure, the flight attendant notified me of a loud noise at the aircraft’s left service door. The door annunciator light on my panel was extinguished, apparently indicating that the door was closed and locked. I informed the captain of the reported noise and checked to see if the aircraft was pressurizing normally. It appeared that the aircraft was pres�surizing normally and the pressurization controller FLT/GND switch was in the FLT position.
Following a discussion of the information we had available, the captain and I felt that this was most likely a leaky door seal and that it would seal up as soon as we got airborne and the pressure differential increased. I then informed the flight attendant that we felt the noise would soon diminish as soon as we pressurized the aircraft after takeoff.
Following takeoff, the aircraft initially pressurized nor�mally with a rate of climb of 300-500 feet per minute and a steadily increasing differential. During the climb, the flight attendant again called the cockpit and explained that the noise had gotten worse and that some of the passengers were growing concerned. Feeling that this must be a poor seal, the captain and I agreed that it could be sealed using paper towels. I made this suggestion to the flight attendant and continued to monitor the pressurization controller.
Passing FL 220, the differential stopped increasing at approximately 5.8 PSID (normal is 8.6 PSID) and the cabin altitude continued to climb. At this time, the lead flight attendant entered the cockpit and requested that I go aft and investigate the problem. It seemed that the “paper towel fix” didn’t work, as the towels were sucked out of the aircraft.
Prior to requesting permission from the captain to go aft, I noticed that the cabin pressure rate of climb had increased from 500 fpm to 1000 fpm. I informed the captain that the pressure was becoming uncontrollable, and told the lead flight attendant that I would not be able to leave my duty station. The cabin altitude was now passing 9000 feet and the captain instructed the first officer to coordinate a descent and return route to the departure field while we ran the “loss of pressurization” procedures.
Soon after beginning the descent and switching the pres�surization controller to “manual,” I regained control of the cabin pressurization. After dumping fuel to get down to the maximum allowable landing weight, a normal landing was made without further incident.
Maintenance inspection of the door revealed that the rollers on the bottom of the door had not engaged, allowing the bottom-hinged portion of the door to remain ajar while still giving a “locked” indication.
There are many CRM factors involved in this situation. First of all the decision making process by the flight deck crew. The vital step of gathering information was omitted and an assumption was made (the noise was a “leaky seal” and that it would gradually correct itself). In fact, the noise that the aft flight attendant and passengers heard was not the typical “leaky seal” noise of escaping air, but rather engine noise coming in through a large opening in the bot�tom of the door. Had the captain �known this, he never would have continued the flight. In fact the Captain stated later that, in his opinion, �the desire to complete an on-time takeoff in lieu of returning to the gate to correct a nuisance gripe allowed us to complete the takeoff without properly diagnosing the situation and taking the proper actions. Instead of accepting limited information from the flight atten�dant and assuming a best-case scenario, the proper course of action would have been to send me back to inspect the door or return to the gate for maintenance.� In addition, perhaps the flight attendants should have been more assertive in explaining the situation to the flight crewmembers. Sometimes, in the air, pressonitis occurs just because of perceived convenience, as in this ASRS report:
FUEL IS TEMPORARY; GRAVTIY IS FOREVER
Reporter: First officer, ASRS # 356035
We were on an IFR flight plan from Hartford, Connecticut to San Antonio, Texas in our Learjet. Because of the distance involved, we had a planned fuel stop in Memphis, Tennessee. After looking at the fuel state approaching Memphis, the captain decided that we would pass up Memphis and try to make San Antonio. It was clear that we would not have enough fuel to fly the route legally, but we had a breakdown of CRM between the captain and myself. I basically failed to convince the captain to stop for fuel and about 50 miles out of San Antonio, we got a low fuel light, followed shortly by a right engine flameout due to fuel star�vation. We immediately transferred what fuel was left into the operative engine and made it in on one engine.
In both of these cases, time was the catalyst, either for an on-time takeoff or an on-time landing. �The whole concept of pressonitis can be included under both impulsivity and invulnerability. The trick ion avoiding is always to question your own motives. Are you advocating a course of action for personal reasons (you need to make it home for that hot date!)? Or is it because it enhances the safety and/or efficiency of the task at hand?
Let’s “take a look”
This one is most likely to befall pilots and can probably be included in one or more of invulnerability, impulsivity and machoism, depending on the circumstances. For example, the weather does not look all that bad ahead, so let�s just take a look see. To give an example, here is another ASRS report, this time from a helicopter pilot.
TAKING A LOOK FOR THE CUSTOMER
The weather in the Los Angeles basin was marginal VFR, though for helicopters, acceptable. The mission was to pick up the owner of a racetrack at the track, fly directly (VFR) to a country club near Palm Springs, and return approximately 1.5-2 hours later. The weather east of Los Angeles was extremely marginal VFR, Riverside at measured 700 ft over�cast, visibility 1.5 and fog. March Air Force Base was about the same. Beaumont was carrying an indefinite ceiling, visi�bility 1/8 mile. Obviously, the bad part was from March to Beaumont. I got both an FSS and DUAT weather forecast briefing, both of which were poor to say the least.
The flight was relatively routine (SVFR at Riverside and March) until just past March, when the ground began to rise into low, jagged hills. I began flying toward the hills, still following the freeway. The ceiling got lower as the terrain rose and soon I was not only avoiding hills but dodging clouds as well. Events happened rapidly after that, as I was still stupidly flying at about 100 knots. Poof!-into the clouds-ground contact lost! I knew “down” meant death, so I, a lowly VFR only pilot, pulled aft cyclic and climbed into the clouds. Thank God I had an awesome 12 hours of instrument training and knew enough to go to the attitude indicator immediately. I stayed on it until breaking out in what seemed an eternity later, though probably less than a minute in reality. I had flown the same route a number of times before, so I knew that the really tall mountains were still many miles away. My immediate concern, upon entering the clouds, was power lines hidden somewhere ahead.
I managed to keep everything on an even keel all the way, but I’ve read the article stating that my life span as a VFR pilot upon entering the clouds was about 178 seconds. So I suppose that if I’m ever stupid enough to do this again, I now have only about 108 seconds left. Figuring up all the possible FAR violations I made, I came up with a total of a whopping 62!
What caused me to do such a stupid, deadly thing?
Macho, invulnerability and impulsiveness all rolled into one. Remember also this was a helicopter, thus he may have had a right to feel invulnerable since if all goes wrong he just needs to stop while he figures it out! This particular pilot finished his report with the statement �When this situation comes I will be more assertive about the realities of flying in poor weather and tell my customer that the weather is bad and the flight will be delayed/canceled. After all, he who chick�ens out and runs away, lives to fly another day.�
Resisting the urge to “take a look”
Never make assumptions! Before you ever step into something you might regret, visualize the worst possible conditions you might encounter, and then figure out your options from that point. Once again, always make sure that you have a �plan B�.
Complacency usually can be included under invulnerability � that feeling that often comes to the unsuspecting with experience. Carrying out the same tasks every day such as flying the same route, conducting the same maintenance procedure, dispatching the same schedule etc., often results in a dangerous level of inattention. How about new CFIs? Suddenly the job becomes more routine � imagine doing Effects of Controls 1 for the umpteenth time in two weeks? The following ASRS report shows a high level of complacency in a DC-10 captain (Kern, 2001).
Reporter: First officer, ASRS # 426476
We were flying our DC-I0 to Minneapolis in January. That alone made our actions suspect when it came to guessing about icing conditions. The number-one manifold failed, and that required the avoidance of any icing conditions because our left-wing anti-icing system was inoperative. I flew and the captain handled the emergency.
Thinking ahead, the second officer asked if the weather in Minneapolis would be an issue. The captain replied that it would not. In fact, Minneapolis was reporting multiple cloud layers and at 5000 feet, the outside air temperature was 0 degrees Celsius.
Upon arrival, approach control vectored us in to the sequence and I saw ice buildup on the windshield and wiper. I asked the captain to get priority handling (to facilitate us get�ting out of the icing conditions). He replied that it was not required. I explained that I might be “the biggest pansy,” but I was not comfortable in icing conditions without airfoil anti-ice.
He asked approach how long final approach would be and they replied “18 miles or so.” He then asked for priority handling. We were vectored on a six-mile final behind a B747. Braking action was reported poor on Runway 12R. We elected to slow down knowing that the 747 would likely roll out to the end of the runway. With flaps at 50 degrees (normal 35 degrees), there is usually some rumble, but this night it was substantial-i.e., boundary layer buffeting (due to the ice buildup). I picked up the speed brakes and the buffeting went away. As we came over the fence on short final, the slightest power reduction caused a significant sink rate and a firm landing. Rollout was normal.
We made several mistakes. I failed to call to our dispatch for a suitable alternate. We had a lot of fuel and were in the clear when the emergency occurred. I feel that the captain failed to follow standard operating procedures as well as good CRM.
In the ASRS report above, a crew allowed complacency to get the best of them by letting a full tank of gas and clear weather cre�ate a false sense of security. Everyone can avoid acting complacently by keeping minds busy with mission-related activities and looking ahead. Find things to challenge, ask questions such as �What would happen if��?� This way the mind is always active and rather than thinking everything will be all right no matter what (invulnerability) there is always that thought that something may change up ahead. When it does, you will be ready for it!
The title of this should probably be �showing-off� because that is basically the subject here. What better place for the macho type to display his or her excellence than at an air show? Just about everyone enjoys watching the Thunderbirds, but even they fall prey on occasion in their quest for perfection in front of a crowd. Think about what you would be tempted to do if you were performing your job in front of friends and family. Would a pilot be tempted to show what he or she could do? Would a mechanic declare a problem fixed when it is not, just for effect?
Air shows themselves are an opportunity to show off skills but, mostly, those participating are professionals who know their limits and stay within them. However, it�s the impromptu shows that cause most damage � pilots taking-off in front of loved ones, an air traffic controller aware there is an audience. Consider the less than sensible (and now dead) pilot in the following report:
AN IMPROMPTU AIR SHOW (HUGHES 1995)
A military fighter pilot had to divert to an intermediate stop for maintenance. While the aircraft was being repaired, the pilot talked with the personnel there and planned his return flight. Prior to starting his engines, he spoke with the local supervisor of flying, advising him of a planned “high-speed pass” on departure. After starting, the pilot received permis�sion from the tower for an opposite-direction low pass prior to departure from the airfield. After takeoff, the pilot per�formed a series of turns to align himself with the runway 180 degrees opposite to his departure. He overflew the run�way at a very high rate of speed, 100-200 feet from the runway, and when approximately 1000 feet from the depar�ture end, he performed an abrupt pull-up with afterburner engaged. The aircraft suddenly and violently broke up, burst into flames, and crashed, killing the pilot.
The pilot was 24 years old, on his first operational tour in the F-15, and was considered inexperienced with a total of 315 hours in type, 513 hours total flying time. The investiga�tion revealed no psychological problems. He was flying reg�ularly and was qualified for the mission. Crew rest and duty day were not factors. Weather was clear. The pilot had planned and pre-coordinated a fly-by with the local on-scene supervisor CSOF). This was a fairly routine occurrence and was condoned as being a morale booster for the local main�tenance personnel. If this were such a routine event, why would the pilot feel the need to max perform the aircraft to the point of destruction? The answer may simply lie in the excitement factor associated with the air show syndrome. This hypothesis is supported by a few other facts deter�mined by the accident board.
On the day of the mishap, the pilot failed to arm his ejec�tion seat, fasten his parachute chest strap, or to insert the presence or weight of external fuel tanks into the armament control panel CAP). Without the proper configuration into the aircraft’s computer system, a conflict would have devel�oped within the overload warning system COWS), most likely causing it to shut down. As the mishap pilot made his fly-by at an estimated 550-605 KIAS, he probably pulled back on the stick listening for the warning tone of an approaching overload. The wings then failed at approxi�mately 8.5Gs due to the high speed and high fuel weight.
Avoiding the temptation
The trouble with humans is tat they always look for ways to show how good they are at something they are proud of. The problem is, once success is gained, the quest for greater challenges to prove oneself even better is often irresistible. �However, again always question motivation and try and recognize this hazardous attitude and simply recoil from any temptation to prove your worth through taking silly risks. Have a plan for whatever it is you are doing and stick with it. Changes need to be planned and tested under safe conditions before being implemented.
Mistake-induced “jet lag” (Kern, 2001)
Humans are often perfectionists and react strongly to mis�takes, especially their own and this �jet lag� is particularly dangerous to those who pride themselves on being perfectionists. When an error does occur, these perfectionists can’t seem to put it out of their minds, and their brain stays at the point of the mistake, dwelling on the error or its cause. This can be even more distracting when you are working with others, as you may tend to fret about what they are thinking. The obvious problem with this is that the world keeps turning while our thinking does not. (Kern, 2001)
This inability to snap back after a mistake is particularly crippling to students, because students, almost by definition, make mistakes. They are supposed to; it is part of the learning experience.
Fighting the �jet lag�
First, admit the mistake! Second, ask yourself what impact the error has on the remainder of the mission. Number two forces you to look forward, which helps because if you are looking forward you cannot be looking back. If the result is modification of the remainder of the task, then you are back out in front. If it is an inconsequential error, then make a mental note for discussion afterwards in more relaxing surroundings. Bottom line? Learn from your mistakes � better still, learn from those of others! This problem can be looked at under the heading of resignation.
This last one can also be viewed as a member of the resignation category. Carrying out a task with someone who has more experience or perceived skill than you do may cause you to hesitate to call attention to his/her deficient performance, or at least to be vague about it. Comments such as �It looks like it may storm today� are far less useful than �We should cancel today�s trip on the basis of the forecast.�
Assertiveness with respect is seldom taken personally. In fact, it will often mark the junior person as someone with integrity who can be counted on to provide timely, accurate, and important information (Kern, 2001). No matter whom you are working with, if you notice something wrong, speak up, be specific, and worry about the consequences later. Most people will appreciate the help and it’s better to say some�thing before it’s too late (Kern, 2001).
A final perspective on hazardous attitudes (Kern, 2001)
Hazardous attitudes are only hazardous if we allow them to manifest themselves in our behaviors. By taking time to understand hazardous attitudes, and by looking for any hint of them in our activities, we can abolish them. Also look for hazardous attitudes in those you work with. At a minimum, it will increase your vigilance. If you are able to share what you have learned with the perpetrator, you may save another pilot’s life.
Secondly, watch for conditions that can set you up for a hazardous attitude: the need to do something quickly, the unexpected request, the task with someone senior or more experienced whom you feel can do no wrong. Simple awareness can be the most effective broad-spectrum antibiotic to cure the whole family of hazardous attitudes. Keep your eyes and ears open for cues, but most importantly, listen to your conscience.
Kern, T. (2001). Controlling Pilot Error: Culture, Environment & CRM. New York: McGraw-Hill.