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What The Commercial Airline Industry Can Teach The Marine Corps About Risk Management
Recent comments from the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Robert Neller, made clear that 2017 was far from a banner year for Marine Corps aviation in terms of safety. The 10 Class A aviation mishaps — mishaps involving manned aircraft — are the most in over a decade. Despite the age of aircraft and operational commitments around the world, the commandant explained that the high rate of aviation mishaps was not generally due to the material condition of the airplanes. The 10 Class A mishaps, where a Class A mishap is defined as an accident that resulted in death, a permanent total disability, or more than $2 million in damage, are reminiscent of another difficult time in aviation safety history. The previous spike in aviation mishaps, in 2004, was a watershed year for aviation safety in the Marine Corps.
Recognizing an institutional crisis due to 18 Class A mishaps that year, the leadership of the Marine Corps enacted a number of changes to policies and procedures aimed at turning the tide of a completely unsustainable mishap trend. The effort worked in that 2009 and 2010 were the safest years on record for Marine Corps Aviation with only four Class A mishaps during each of those years. Since then, however, the Class A mishap rate has slowly creeped back up to its current level.
The commercial airline industry experienced its own period of institution safety crisis. In the 1970s, 101 people died aboard Eastern Airlines Flight 401 after it slowly descended in darkness and crashed into the Everglades while the aircrew attempted to troubleshoot a problem; 10 people died when United Airlines Flight 173 ran out of fuel and crashed in Portland, Oregon while the crew also attempted to troubleshoot a problem; and 583 people died when two Boeing 747s collided on a fog-shrouded runway at Tenerife Airport in the Canary Islands. Recognizing the problem, the airlines enforced change, and in the decades following, have been continuously improving their risk-management tools. These landmark accidents gave rise to the most notable aviation risk management tool: Crew Resource Management, or CRM. In essence, CRM’s goal is to train the aircrew to work as a team, communicate effectively, and utilize all available resources to address problems in the cockpit. In 2017, commercial airlines in the United States marked their eighth consecutive year with no fatal accidents.
By contrast, the Marine Corps’ aviation risk-management tools have become stale and lack the energy to stop mishap rates from rising. For example, the substance of CRM in the Navy and Marine Corps — the seven critical skills of decision-making, assertiveness, mission analysis, communication, leadership, adaptability/flexibility, and situational awareness — has remained unchanged over decades. Even in the record-setting years of 2009 and 2010, three-fourths of the Class A mishaps were due to aircrew error that could have been mitigated by effective CRM. CRM within the commercial aviation industry has evolved with time and technology trends. In this regard, the Navy and Marine Corps should follow the airlines’ example of effective risk management.
First, scrap all current models for training and evaluating aviation risk management. The current mishap trend presents a needed opportunity to fuse best risk-management practices and innovative ideas from across all services, the airline industry, the cargo aviation industry, air traffic control centers, and senior or retired aviators of all backgrounds to determine what is effective, what is intellectually challenging, and what pushes aviators and aviation support activities out of “comfort zones” that facilitate numerous incidents. If flight time is still going to be scarce and budget environments constrained for aviation support activities, aviators need the risk-management substance that challenges their fundamental risk management skills for today’s environment.
Class A flight mishaps experienced by the U.S. Marine Corps since 2007.Chart via Naval Safety Center (NAVSAFECEN)
Second, the tools of teaching risk management have to evolve with the substance evolution of risk management. Risk mitigation cannot be relegated to checklists and score cards alone. Risk management is a “living and breathing” decision tool; it is perpetual, it has to be mentally challenging, and it needs to be taught that way. The difficulty in implementing risk-management teaching and training is that the concept of risk mitigation can sometimes feel counter to the offensive mindset that is a source of pride for Marines, but the current situation demands wholesale change.
Finally, challenging risk-management training has to extend to every stakeholder in aviation. This includes aircraft maintenance crews, air traffic controllers, airfield operations crews, airfield maintenance crews, and crash and rescue units. One example of a program that can help mitigate the current mishap trend is Maintenance Resource Management, or MRM. MRM, like CRM, is a program designed to facilitate communication, teamwork, and problem resolution among airplane maintenance crews. Both the Coast Guard and the Air Force have instituted these types of programs to address maintenance safety issues. Effective risk-management instruction cannot be the private property of aircrew alone. Instead, it must extend to every element of aviation that has an impact on the safe operations of airplanes.
With the fielding of the Joint Strike Fighter, the transition of almost every airframe, a challenging budget environment, and the same operational commitments, 2017 should serve as a massive call to action for decision-makers to provide the right mechanisms for aviators and support staffs functioning in this environment to be safe in accomplishing missions. Especially since this appears to be the “new normal” for the foreseeable future, an energetic response is critical to address all of what occurred in 2017. If the response is anything less than that of the offensive mindset that is the pride of Marines everywhere, this same conversation will occur at this time next year.
GENEVA/DUBAI (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said he was prepared to take military action to stop Tehran from getting a nuclear bomb but left open whether he would back the use of force to protect Gulf oil supplies that Washington fears may be under threat by Iran.
Worries about a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since attacks last week on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping lane at the entrance to the Gulf. Washington blamed long-time foe Iran for the incidents.
Tehran denies responsibility but the attacks, and similar ones in May, have further soured relations that have plummeted since Trump pulled the United States out of a landmark international nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018.
Trump has restored and extended U.S. economic sanctions on Iran. That has forced countries around the world to boycott Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.
But in an interview with Time magazine, Trump, striking a different tone from some Republican lawmakers who have urged a military approach to Iran, said last week's tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman had only a "very minor" impact so far.
Asked if he would consider military action to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons or to ensure the free flow of oil through the Gulf, Trump said: "I would certainly go over nuclear weapons and I would keep the other a question mark."
Minnesota Democratic Party staffer under fire for calling USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul a 'murder boat'
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday he is appalled by a state DFL Party staff member's tweet referring to the recently-launched USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul as a "murder boat."
"Certainly, the disrespect shown is beyond the pale," said Walz, who served in the Army National Guard.
William Davis, who has been the DFL Party's research director and deputy communications director, made the controversial comment in response to a tweet about the launch of a new Navy combat ship in Wisconsin: "But actually, I think it's gross they're using the name of our fine cities for a murder boat," Davis wrote on Twitter over the weekend.
'We are there to deter aggression' — Pompeo addressed CENTCOM on Iran mere moments before Shanahan announced his departure
TAMPA — Minutes before the Acting Secretary of Defense withdrew Tuesday from his confirmation process, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke at MacDill Air Force Base about the need to coordinate "diplomatic and defense efforts'' to address rising tensions with Iran.
Pompeo, who arrived in Tampa on Monday, met with Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. and Army Gen. Richard Clarke, commanders of U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command respectively, to align the Government's efforts in the Middle East, according to Central Command.
NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — The trial of Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher officially kicked off on Tuesday with the completion of jury selection, opening statements, and witness testimony indicating that drinking alcohol on the front lines of Mosul, Iraq in 2017 seemed to be a common occurrence for members of SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon.
Government prosecutors characterized Gallagher as a knife-wielding murderer who not only killed a wounded ISIS fighter but shot indiscriminately at innocent civilians, while the defense argued that those allegations were falsehoods spread by Gallagher's angry subordinates, with attorney Tim Parlatore telling the jury that "this trial is not about murder. It's about mutiny."
President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will "not to go forward with his confirmation process."
Trump said that Army Secretary Mark Esper will now serve as acting defense secretary.