Wednesday, January 4, 2012


G R Mohan | 7:32 AM | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

Today's cabin crew are highly trained, highly skilled, and centre on safety as the core of their job function. And, just like the pilots, many have been trained in crew resource management principles. However, some recent findings have uncovered some disturbing facts about the division of responsibilities and safety issues between the cockpit (pilots) and the cabin crew (Cabin crew). The underlying goal for both the pilots and Cabin crew is the safe and efficient completion of a flight. Yet, there has been an unrelenting division of these groups in times of emergencies as well as routine operations. How could this be? As a layperson, you would assume that these groups would be highly cohesive by nature, and yet the opposite has been shown to be true.

The problem with pilot and flight attendant teamwork, particularly in the area of communications, has its roots in the disparate job functions of both groups. When speaking of pilots, it is a mostly male dominated profession. Conversely, when speaking of Cabin crew, it is a mostly female dominated profession. It should be noted, however, that there has been an increased percentage of "gender balancing" over the last few decades for both groups. Theoretically speaking, and this comes from basic innate gender characteristics, male and female thought processes could be somewhat divergent. This is not to say that there is an abundance of testosterone in the cockpit or that females may be influenced by their inherent affective nature, but the gender differences do have to be considered when groups are segregated into mostly male versus mostly female categories.

Besides gender influences, the most salient reason for division in these groups appears to lie in the division of job functions and responsibilities. The cockpit crew is separated from the cabin crew by not only physical barriers (the door), but also communicative barriers (most communication is conducted through an impersonal interphone). Until relatively recently, pilots considered the cockpit "their territory" while the Cabin crew considered the cabin "their territory." Typically, the only times that these two groups would interface was when the pilots needed to be fed, or in the event of an emergency.

"the basic problem is that these two crews represent two distinct and separate cultures, and that this separation serves to inhibit satisfactory teamwork."

Well, we have - the pilots and the Cabin crew have respect amongst one another as friends but when it comes to working as a crew, we don't work as a crew. We work as two crews. You have a front-end crew and a back-end crew, and we are looked upon as serving coffee and lunch and things like that.

By now you have seen the magnitude of the problem; two groups, two cultures, and two completely separate job functions. The pilots, who work in the small but highly complex cockpit—and the Cabin crew, who come from the service-oriented and spacious cabin—having difficulties bringing their environments closer together and working in harmony.

Pilots and Cabin crew need to understand the basic psychology of group dynamics and the positive effect that pre-flight briefings can have between groups. Many pilots and Cabin crew may have never worked together before and yet both of these groups tend to remain isolated before, during, and after a flight. Some captains are better with an introduction and a briefing than others. But overall, there tends to be a "chill in the air" during pre-flight routines.


  1. There could be greater cohesion if the pilots and cabin crew reporting are under one head. The divide could be reduced and resource management enhanced.

  2. There is a perennial drift in conceptual understanding of their roles. Are the Flight attendants onboard for operational safety or to meet service standards? The commercial arm of an airline as well as many passengers feel that the role of a flight attendant is merely to serve them meals and drinks. They overlook the primary function of these crew who are an essential cog in the safety of operation of an aircrfat.

  3. The oretically speaking, and this comes from basic innate gender characteristics,
    Cabin Crew Course

  4. This is not to say that there is an abundance of testosterone in the cockpit..

    Cabin Crew Jobs