As Babe Ruth, the US baseball player once said, ‘The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.’

Effective teamwork is critical in high-risk industries such as aviation. Successful teamwork occurs when every member of a team—on the ground and in the air—performs and contributes in the best way possible to achieve a common goal. Individual performances are not the primary focus—it is the collective performance of the team which matters the most. An effective team manager recognises that individuals have different strengths and limitations, but ensures, through communication, programs and culture, that the individuals work together in a coordinated manner to achieve team goals. Teamwork can have a major impact on successful operational risk and safety management.

Peter Gash, Chief Pilot at Seair Pacific says, ‘The world is so full of examples of teamwork. Look at the cave example in Thailand with the Wild Boars. That was not a one-man operation to get those people out. It was teamwork. De Crespigny with the A380, that was teamwork that go those people back safely. Sully in the Hudson River—that was teamwork you know?’

Teamwork is the fifth booklet in the revised Safety behaviours: human factors for pilots’ kit. The booklet examines the characteristics of high-performance teams such as mutal trust, clear goals, effective leadership, and defined roles and responsibilities. It tells the story of a wheels-up landing involving a Beech 58 where the solo pilot uses effective teamwork to land his aircraft safely; it examines the double engine failure of Captain Sullenberger on the Hudson River; and also looks at a remarkable story of how the Williams Formula One racing team applied its procedures to improving outcomes at a neonatal resuscitation unit in Wales.

The booklet offers tips for effective teamwork in both single-pilot and multi-crew operations. Safety behaviours: human factors for pilots’ kit is out now for free on the CASA website, or can be ordered in print and on USB from the CASA Online Store.


  1. I disagree.
    If one doesn’t focus primarily on each individual’s performance, then a poor performing individual will let the team down.
    The trouble is that the poor performer may be the head financial man or a bunch of shareholders.
    You can see the results surfacing when the pen-pushers and money men who think they have a team and talk about teamwork, but they make decisions about who they hire and how much they are willing to pay that let the whole team and company down.
    These scenarios cause problems like those that resulting in team thinking allowing fork lifts to remove and install engines.
    Also, Boeing management team decided wrongly in their bid to save money using software, when they should have asked the test pilots.

  2. I’m not sure if I’m on the same page here because my background is exclusively GA over more years than I care to remember. Over time I’ve been to far too many funerals of pilots who I held in high regard, but nevertheless got caught out one way or another. With many of these fatalities there was a second pilot who was not trained or capable of being part of the team and sat there while they crashed.
    I’m hopeful that in the future, private pilots will be educated in CRM and enabled to speak up if something appears wrong. I’ve done that on occasions only to incur the wrath of the pilot flying… which is a pity because you would expect that two brains working as a team are better than one.

  3. Peter :
    I am not happy that you were the subject of abuse from that PIC,on those occasions .Two heads in that situation are better than one,be they a pilot,or just a passenger.I always as part of my preflight briefing indcate who is acting as pilot in command,on these occassion,in the case of a qualified pilot.or if the other person is not a pilot,ask them to be a second set of eyes.I also get them to manage the retrieval. anything that I require.They also might see something that I might have missed,like a second aircraft heading for us.The last thing we all want is to have them not saying anything because they might feel like they might be intimidated. and just sit there fat and dumb,while we get totaled,in a mid air incident.You might like to call it a simple case of CRM, but it works for me.I certainly would not like to be a passenger in an aircraft where the pilot was not willing to be informed or assisted in making our flight as safe as possible.

  4. One thing I will say about bonding with flight crew is the risk of complacency. On one hand you have the advantages of knowing each others strengths/weaknesses and communication is more fluid. On the downside if you become too familiar you start to make assumptions about their actions and do less checks which is where the risk of a missed procedure increases. The key is a healthy balance and a SOP which is unrelenting when it comes to safety.

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