I hear a lot about CRM these days (it seems to be a buzz word). It is related to safety, but what exactly is it?

From what I know, it also applies to single pilot flights (even in a Cessna 150!), but where is the "crew" that is being managed in this case and how does it improve safety?


3 Answers 3


CRM is about making use of all available resources to safely conduct a flight. Pilots these days (even single pilot ops) have a wealth of resources available to them. Anything you can see and anyone you can talk to is a resource, and CRM is about making efficient use of those resources.

Flying a light single you will have a subset of these resources:

  • Cockpit displays
  • Charts
  • Checklists
  • ATC
  • FSS
  • Flight Watch (EFAS)
  • Live Weather downlinks (e.g. XM satellite weather)

On a large transport aircraft these change a bit:

  • Cockpit displays
  • Charts
  • Checklists
  • ATC
  • FSS
  • EFAS
  • Onboard RADAR
  • The QRH (quick reference handbook)
  • The FOM (flight operations manual)
  • The other pilot(s)
  • The cabin crew
  • Passengers (Doctor in a medical emergency? People helping in an evac?)
  • Dispatch
  • Medlink
  • Company Ops
  • For ground ops:
    • Fuellers
    • Ramp personell
    • Gate agents

More and more emphasis is placed on managing these resources as you move up the chain. By the time you are taking your first 121 upgrade checkride, it is more about judgement and CRM than it is about the flying.


CRM is not just crew anymore - it's now typically referred to as "Cockpit Resource Management" (or in some cases, when no crew is present, as "Single-Pilot Resource Management") and it's something the FAA emphasizes on all checkrides.

CRM includes all resources available to any pilot. In a typical light GA aircraft this means checklists, instruments, gauges, radios, and nav. However, ATC is a resource, especially during abnormal or emergency situations. So is FSS, Unicom, or even other aircraft nearby (think relaying an IFR cancellation etc).

In a large aircraft, CRM obviously includes your flight and cabin crew, plus other airline or corporate perks like dispatch.

The safety improvements come from knowing when to offload work or call on systems or people for assistance. Even a non-pilot passenger can be a huge help in spotting other aircraft, tuning radios, rummaging around for your spare pen... that's all CRM and lets the pilot focus on flying.

From the Private Pilot PTS (FAA-S-8081-14B):

Special Emphasis Areas

Examiners shall place special emphasis upon areas of aircraft operations considered critical to flight safety. Among these are:

 15. Single-Pilot Resource Management (SRM), and
 16. Other areas deemed appropriate to any phase of the practical test.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ something the FAA emphasizes on all checkrides on my PP check ride things were going very well. The DPE had me deviate to an unplanned alternate that I had to locate on a chart. I got points for CRM by asking him, a certificated pilot, to fly while I read the chart... but he also (not surprisingly) told me no :) $\endgroup$
    – mah
    Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 17:46
  • $\begingroup$ @mah Nice! I had a couple of students try that with the same results, but examiners always love that kind of thing. It shows solid problem-solving skills. $\endgroup$
    – egid
    Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 19:36
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    $\begingroup$ @mah Good response. Until the examiner tells you to treat him like he doesn't exist, he's a resource. That's the point of CRM. $\endgroup$
    – Shawn
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 23:44

In Europe:

As far as I know, Crew Resource Management or Cockpit Resource Management training is only needed for commercial/airline flights where multi-pilot aircrafts are flown.

It's basically Multi Crew Co-operation (MCC) training (plus the communication aspect) with the purpose of increasing the efficiency of communication, coordination, decision-making and leadership in the cockpit.

In the end it breaks down to efficient pilot communication, efficient distribution of cockpit tasks and "inter-pilot-double-checks" (meaning a pilot checking the other pilot actions and vice-versa).

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    $\begingroup$ If that is true, why does the FAA private pilot PTS list it as an emphasis area? See: Single-Pilot Resource Management $\endgroup$
    – egid
    Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 16:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Sorry guys, i forgot you're mostly Americans... Americans are usually faster legislating things, specially safety related, and sometimes overdoing it as well... In Europe, CRM is only for Airliners and it's their responsibility to establish and maintain such training which is usually integrated with Line Oriented Flight Training... Furthermore, I don't see much need for such training to fly a Cessna 150 visually, for God sake... Although for single-pilot Very Light Jets, for instance, it's a different story. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 9:46
  • $\begingroup$ If we were to call it common sense, or situational awareness, would you have a problem with it being used by private pilots? $\endgroup$
    – egid
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 16:35
  • $\begingroup$ No, definitely not. Such training is included in a PPL... And I, as a private pilot always try use all resources (either knowledge or devices) to keep my situational awareness as high as possible, especially in private VFR flights. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 18:18

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