Crashof the Eastern Airlines Flight 401
Crashof the Eastern Airlines Flight 401
EasternAirlines Flight 401 crashed into Florida Everglades as it approachedthe runway of the Miami International Airport on 29th December 1972.There were 163 passengers on board though only 101 fatalities werereported. According to Silei(2014), itwas the second-deadliest single plane disaster in the U.S and thefirst of a wide-body plane. Some group dynamics were responsible forthe crash because factors like a poor interpersonal relationship,performance monitoring, lack of adaptability, limited coordination,authority, and status level among the crew members played asignificant role.
Aprimary aspect of group dynamics to consider is performancemonitoring and feedback. The team members would have evaluated theperformance of the indicators before flying the plane. According toHoldenet al, (2013) itwas the responsibility of these members to ensure that all parts areworking properly. Arguably, the crew members contributed to thecrashing of the plane. Moreover, before the accident the cockpit crewconcentrated a lot on the failure of the indicators and ignoredmonitoring of the performance of auto pilot.
Coordinationalso lacked among the team members of this commercial airplane. Allof them were preoccupied with the landing gear. Cookson(2016) argues that, thereshould have been some harmonization in allocation of duties. Somemembers should have concentrated on checking the other instruments.Due to this bad idea of putting all the concentration on the failureof the landing gear, the plane had to crash. No one was there tonotice that the aircraft was losing altitude.
Anotherone is the interpersonal relationship. A relative poor associationamong the crew members was noted in the plane. The absence of ‘we`during conversations was clear evidence that everybody on the cockpitdid things independently. Instead of Captain Loft saying that ‘letus try and maintain the plane at a safe altitude, he was recordedsaying that he would retain the plane`s altitude at 2,000 feet`. Astudy by Cookson(2016) showsthat usages of such words like ‘let us` have some positive outcomeand the crew members too would feel that they have a role to play. Itimproves the social organization, especially in a plane. If theseapproaches were totally present there would have less chances of theaircraft crashing.
Adaptabilityis another contributing factor. The crew members were supposed to getused to the failure of the signals and use alternative methods. Othermeans would be like lowering the gear manually and stop relying onthe confirmation lights. They were supposed to know that indicatorscan fail though the real action has been performed. As Gordonet al, (2012) stipulates,the light bulb of the plane was burned-out and relying on it wouldcause disaster. Also, adaptability was checked, as the pilot and hiscrew members failed to restore the aircraft to a safe altitude uponrealizing that it had lost most of it.
Anotherone was the authority present in the cockpit. The pilot had all thecontrol over all activities and everyone in the cockpit and the cabinas well. No one would have told him what to do. All the powers werebestowed on him by the company to issue instructions to everyone onthe plane. Silei(2014) states that, dueto the role he played without being instructed by any crew memberprobably led to the aircraft crashing. The pilot, who was known asLoft, also controlled the plane`s radio. He told Air Traffic Control(ATC) officials that he had decided to cancel the landing and insteadassumed a holding pattern. He made the decision on independentlywithout consulting his workmates. He had all the authorities hence hetook the plane 2000 feet above Everglades. Captain Loft was the onlyperson giving instructions. He had also directed Engineer Repo to gobelow and check what was wrong instead of helping the other memberswith the issue. His decisions might have played a significant role incausing the plane to crash.
Anothercontributing factor was the status difference among the members ofthe cockpit. There was a maintenance-employee in the aircraft. Thecompany had a lot of trust on the individual, and he was bestowed allthe responsibilities to deal with the technical problems. He was seenas a specialist by the airline firm and also regarded as the mostexperienced in maintaining the performance of the aircraftinstruments. Due to this, every crew member had to allow him dealwith the issue (Cookson,2016).Few people were allowed to contribute to the problem, and it was leftsolely to the experienced employee who might have brought so manycomplications leading to Eastern Airlines Flight 401 crashing.
Groupdynamics played a significant role in determining the outcome of thissituation. Lack of coordination among the crew members and theirinability to adapt to changes may have contributed a lot to theoccurrence of the accident. The other factors like interpersonalrelationships need to be addressed too, so as to ensure proper socialorganization among workmates. No staff member should be held with somuch status that the others are less perceived as beneficial to thecompany. Finally, authority is essential too in ensuring properrunning of company activities, and it should not be misused throughdenying other people a chance to contribute to decision making.
Cookson,S. (2016). Culture in the Cockpit: Implications for CRM Training. InAdvancesin Cross-Cultural Decision Making (pp.119-131). New York N.Y.: Springer International Publishing.
Gordon,S., Mendenhall, P., & O`Connor, B. B. (2012). Beyondthe checklist: What else health care can learn from aviation teamworkand safety.New York N.Y.: Cornell University Press.
Holden,K., Ezer, N., & Vos, G. (2013). Evidence Report: Risk ofInadequate Human-Computer Interaction.
Silei,G. (2014). Technological Hazards, Disasters and Accidents. In TheBasic Environmental History (pp.227-253). New York N.Y.: Springer International Publishing.