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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.
A Marine wanted for killing his mother's boyfriend reportedly escaped police by hiding inside an RV they'd spent hours searching before towing it to a parking lot, where he escaped under the cover of darkness.
It wasn't until more than two weeks later authorities finally caught up to Michael Brown at his mom's home, which was the scene of the crime.
Brown stuffed himself into a tight spot in his camper during an hours-long search of the vehicle on Nov. 10, according to NBC affiliate WSLS in Virginia. A day earlier, cops said Brown fatally shot his mother's boyfriend, Rodney Brown. The AWOL Marine remained on the lam until Nov. 27, where he was finally apprehended without incident.
No motive is yet known for last week's Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard shooting tragedy, which appears to have been a random act of violence in which the sailor who fatally shot two civilian workers and himself did not know them and did not plan his actions ahead of time, shipyard commander Capt. Greg Burton said in an "All Hands" message sent out Friday.
Machinist's Mate Auxiliary Fireman Gabriel Antonio Romero of San Antonio, an armed watch-stander on the attack submarine USS Columbia, shot three civilian workers Dec. 4 and then turned a gun on himself while the sub rested in dry dock 2 for a major overhaul, the Navy said.
"The investigation continues, but there is currently no known motive and no information to indicate the sailor knew any of the victims," Burton said.
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said it had successfully conducted another test at a satellite launch site, the latest in a string of developments aimed at "restraining and overpowering the nuclear threat of the U.S.", state news agency KCNA reported on Saturday.
The test was conducted on Friday at the Sohae satellite launch site, KCNA said, citing a spokesman for North Korea's Academy of Defence Science, without specifying what sort of testing occurred.
Since the Washington Post first published the "Afghanistan papers," I have been reminded of a scene from "Apocalypse Now Redux" in which Army Col. Walter Kurtz reads to the soldier assigned to kill him two Time magazine articles showing how the American people had been lied to about Vietnam by both the Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon administrations.
In one of the articles, a British counterinsurgency expert tells Nixon that "things felt much better and smelled much better" during his visit to Vietnam.
"How do they smell to you, soldier?" Kurtz asks.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Erik Prince, the controversial private security executive and prominent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, made a secret visit to Venezuela last month and met Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, one of socialist leader Nicolas Maduro's closest and most outspoken allies, according to five sources familiar with the matter.