Air Transport World

When crew cultures clash.(airline crew)(includes related article on safety issues)

BAHRAIN - A hitherto taboo subject was aired during IATA's first regional seminar on human factors in aviation held here in March. How cultural norms can be responsible for some fundamental differences in crew interactions and command roles was described in a presentation by Ashley Merritt of a NASA/University of Texas/U.S. FAA crew-research project.

The majority of the world's airlines are monocultural - owned, managed and operated by people of the same national culture - and the majority of the world's commercial pilots are "Anglos," i.e., U.S., U.K., Australian, etc.

Their attitudes toward command differ from those of many "non-Anglo" pilots, in that Anglos believe the first officer has the right to question a decision by the captain; that the first officer may assume command of the aircraft under certain circumstances; that the captain should not automatically take physical control and that successful flight deck management is more than just the captain's flying proficiency. By no means do afl non-Anglo pilots share these beliefs, the study shows.

The differences in pilots' attitudes stems from cultural backgrounds. "Anglo" cultures subscribe to the norm of egalitarianism: "All men are created equal." This strongly held belief requires that Anglo pilots see the elevated relationship of captain to crew as a temporary, somewhat artificial, distinction. …

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