Prevailing Cultural / Organizational Factors

Airline

The investigation found that Avianca did not provide CRM training to their flight and cabin crews. CRM training can enhance the ability to prevent and/or manage flight crew errors, and in maintaining continuity in flight crew performance of duties. The investigation also found that the airline did not require that all flight crew members speak English proficiently.
A news report at the time showed that the airline did not train its flight crews to use the word "emergency" when declaring a fuel emergency as they did not deem it necessary. A pilot at the airline said that words or phrases such as "priority" or "we are running out of fuel" should be sufficient.

Link to article "New Disclosure on Avianca Plane Crash", New York Times, June 21, 1990.

Pilot Culture

A news report at the time showed that pilots were reluctant to declare fuel emergencies for a number of reasons including: being perceived as not up to normal pilot standards, receiving a formal write up on their record, and the inconvenience of filling out paperwork.

Link to article "Right Word is Crucial in Air Traffic Control", New York Times, January 29, 1990.

Air Traffic Control

The same report showed that air traffic controllers deemed keeping track of fuel level to be the pilot's responsibility. They stated that if a pilot needs immediate help they need to declare that by contacting them using the term "fuel emergency." They further stated that they knew of pilot's reluctance to declare fuel emergencies so they would look for signs of distress in pilot's speech patterns.

Link to article "Right Word is Crucial in Air Traffic Control", New York Times, January 29, 1990.

Back to top