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Trans-cockpit authority gradient

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Trans-cockpit authority gradient

Old 9th Jan 2023, 08:21
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Trans-cockpit authority gradient

Hello pilots,

I'm preparing my academic work on the trans-cockpit authority gradient: What are the apparent components of pilot authority, and how a gradient forms between two pilots. This is quite evident for example in Tenerife 1977, two collisions of the B747. Despite this was pre-CRM era, we can see two very different crew dynamics in the CVR recordings. In Detroit 1990 with the runway incursion and collision, we see a very rare role-reversal with the CDR and FO. So there are many interesting cases out there.

It appears that the concept of the trans-cockpit authority gradient first conceived by Elwin Edwards in 1975 or 1988. However I can only locate citations and references. It would be very valuable to locate his original work.
So I thought that if anywhere, on this forum there is a small chance that someone knows where I can find the original source. Any other sources involving the trans-cockpit authority gradient are also very much appreciated.

Thanks in advance!
Antti
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Old 9th Jan 2023, 09:55
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Hi Antti

There is quite lot on this subject on my PiCMA.info website. You could start at Monitoring breakdowns | PicMA where I discuss it in some detail.
Please either PM me or better email direct to [email protected] . I'm away from home at present but will have a look at my own archive to see what I have by way of source material. That includes many accident reports where the TCAG was a significant factor.
Regards
Steve
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Old 11th Jan 2023, 05:00
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Originally Posted by AnttiK View Post
Hello pilots,

I'm preparing my academic work on the trans-cockpit authority gradient: What are the apparent components of pilot authority, and how a gradient forms between two pilots. This is quite evident for example in Tenerife 1977, two collisions of the B747. Despite this was pre-CRM era, we can see two very different crew dynamics in the CVR recordings. In Detroit 1990 with the runway incursion and collision, we see a very rare role-reversal with the CDR and FO. So there are many interesting cases out there.

It appears that the concept of the trans-cockpit authority gradient first conceived by Elwin Edwards in 1975 or 1988. However I can only locate citations and references. It would be very valuable to locate his original work.
So I thought that if anywhere, on this forum there is a small chance that someone knows where I can find the original source. Any other sources involving the trans-cockpit authority gradient are also very much appreciated.

Thanks in advance!
Antti
Your starting point should be 1977/Tenerife/KLM/Pam-An. About the biggest airline accident in history, which triggered the insight gains of cockpit gradient effects/impacts and its remediations.
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Old 11th Jan 2023, 15:06
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Originally Posted by WideScreen View Post
Your starting point should be 1977/Tenerife/KLM/Pam-An. About the biggest airline accident in history, which triggered the insight gains of cockpit gradient effects/impacts and its remediations.
He does!

This is quite evident for example in Tenerife 1977, two collisions of the B747. Despite this was pre-CRM era, we can see two very different crew dynamics in the CVR recordings.
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Old 11th Jan 2023, 16:09
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Re Tenerife. One version is that the KLM Capt was not in fact the CRM monster he has been portrayed as despite his terrible misjudgement. It was possibly an example of what happens when you have a management pilot overly keen to be a good company man. A great many lessons learnt and still to be learned from that awful day.
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Old 11th Jan 2023, 16:42
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Korean 8509 (Stansted, 1999) was an example of a culturally imposed vertical authority gradient.
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Old 12th Jan 2023, 11:56
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Originally Posted by meleagertoo View Post
Korean 8509 (Stansted, 1999) was an example of a culturally imposed vertical authority gradient.
KAL801 in Guam 2 years earlier too!
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Old 12th Jan 2023, 12:36
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Lamia Flight 2933. The gradient on that one extended well outside the flight deck. 😒
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Old 12th Jan 2023, 12:56
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Not answering the OPs direct question, but they should also look into the lack, (in my experience), of training for First Officers of how to deal with "difficult" or autocratic Captains.

Some of us know how to do this, others don't. My own Dad was autocratic, (at home, nothing to do with flying), and angering him could result in a thumping when I was younger, and very unpleasant scenes and being thrown out of the house when I was older. So my usual SOP when flying therefore was to go with the flow unless the Captain was actually going to kill us, in which case I became very forthright and shouted etc.

This was not helped in two airlines I flew for, where Captains were seen as gods and could make basic mistakes in the Sim - one long-haul Captain did not know how to programme a holding pattern, several others did not know the flight controls logic. Two training Captains I Sim'd with did not follow their own company procedures during emergencies, but that was glossed over and nodded through. Whereas even minor shortcomings from F/Os were treated far more seriously and there was never any encouragement.

There are lots of examples of crashes where we all wonder why the F/O did not speak up or take control. I remember at the end of a transatlantic flight trying to make a Captain understand that it was a very bad idea to approach and land under 3 enormous CBs over the airfield, (and the company manuals and literature confirmed this). But I could not convince him to hold and wait, and he was a very unpleasant person. In the end, we had to break off the approach anyway for other reasons, so it worked out OK, but having to wrestle control from a difficult autocratic Captain is a very big deal. CRM doesn't cut it. Cabin crew are given actual training and role playing to deal with difficult or dangerous passengers, First and Second Officers should have similar training.
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Old 12th Jan 2023, 20:39
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Uplinker- I hear you loud and clear!
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Old 13th Jan 2023, 09:57
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"Trans" is a rather different subject in today's world. I am pleased that was not the subject!
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Old 18th Jan 2023, 07:45
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Originally Posted by Consol View Post
Re Tenerife. One version is that the KLM Capt was not in fact the CRM monster he has been portrayed as despite his terrible misjudgement. It was possibly an example of what happens when you have a management pilot overly keen to be a good company man. A great many lessons learnt and still to be learned from that awful day.
This is a good point. The KLM Captain had not flown on the line in the preceding 12 weeks, he was mostly management and a training Captain in the simulator. So one perspective to the accident was that he was simulator-oriented, especially when commencing the takeoff with very little regard for ATC clearance.

In terms of the authority; the Captain had a very high rank and reputation, possibly strong personality, moderate experience (11,700 hours with 1545 on type), but very limited recent experience (12 weeks since last line flight). In addition he had given the FO his check ride and wings.

So the cockpit gradient appeared very steep, and because of these factors it is understandable. The lack of recent line experience was perhaps hidden or not appreciated. Also it is very human that if someone has high rank and reputation, he begins to believe in it himself and act in accordance, further increasing the effect.

Uplinker I agree that virtually every FO will have these encounters and ponder how to deal with them. CRM possibly offers a few tools, but not all the answers. For a new FO it is very difficult to question an autocratic CDR, because he lacks the experience, to have reference that something is abnormal or risky. For an experienced FO this is possible, but not pleasant. Although to a large part this depends on the organizational culture and maturity. Can the FO question without being afraid of consequences from not only the CDR, but the organization.
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