Monday, May 26, 2014

May 26th, 2014

Fresh Air Matters... with Capt. Yaw

Time and time again we hear of aircraft getting into serious trouble through lack of Crew Resource Management. Arguments and lack of listening - not only in relation to other crew members but to passengers also. It is not only the people at the pointy end of the aircraft who have eyes and ears - but everybody on board. Imagine every aircraft is like a small country. The Pilot is the President, the co-pilot his vice, the cabin crew are the cabinet... and the passengers the voting public - or the people. It is no different - the people put their trust in the crew and will end up at a destination, in a particular condition, based principally upon the leadership of that nation.

It is no secret that the economic challenges of Ghana are getting a lot of attention. Whether we consider the just ended National Economic Forum, or the mass of media chatter - in the newspapers, on the television and, in true Ghana style, extensively on the radio chat shows.

It is as if we are trying to create a national CRM approach to running the economy. CRM being Crew Resource Management - or the ability to get everybody on board to contribute towards the safety of an aircraft - in this case our nation.

For a long time we have enjoyed eleven Black Stars playing football with about ten million coaches shouting at them what to do, and how to play. The vast majority of those shouting never get heard. I sometimes wonder if people understand that shouting at a TV set does not assist nor inform the players being watched - even more so when it is not being shown live! Of course, the TV and radio commentators are also hot at shouting instructions, observations - and at times other things (not always polite), all to no avail. Sport is all about a nation shouting what to do, whilst the players just do what they think at the time.

Of course, when watching the WHOLE field, from a place removed from the pitch, you can see a lot more - you can make a better decision - and even if not heard - you can shout out fantastic instructions. When you are watching the replay you can be even more precise in your deliberations. For the players, it would be nice if they could have all of this information gathered, condensed, filtered and delivered directly to their ears whilst playing... but that would actually be against the rules!

When it comes to running a country - or flying a plane for that matter - the rules are actually very different. The outcomes are, of course, much more important. Losing a football match is embarrassing. Losing value on the national currency is devastating. Losing an aircraft is a disaster. Winning a football match makes you feel good. Running a successful economy generates jobs and futures. A successful flight is 'expected'. It is no wonder, therefore, that our 'economic team' have a lot more on their shoulders than the Black Stars. With it, they have every need for the feedback from those with a different angle of view, and for some, the benefit of hindsight - having seen something similar before!

What becomes more interesting is that we are ready to bring on board foreign coaches for the black stars - and foreign pilots to fly our aircraft - but we are appear reticent to take foreign advice on our economy. The 'home grown' solution is laudable - but we must also remember that we have a lot to learn and gain from embracing the fact that Ghana is NOT alone. We are a part of the WORLD. The WORLD wants Ghana to succeed. The WORLD wants to see every Ghanaian earning loads of cash, buying new cars, etc. - simply because trade is now an INTERNATIONAL game. 

Let us look at the European football teams - they embrace African players to give them an edge... and that is just a game. How much more must we embrace international players when it comes to the economy? You always employ the best pilot for the job - regardless of their nation of origin... How much more important to engage the same when it comes to National Success?

It is wonderful to see so many people making their observations about how to fix the economy. It really is. Seeing the masses wanting to make their contribution means that we have a National Team, with a desire for economic success. However, there are times when we simply lack the experience, and would benefit from cross-cultural inputs. I know that in my line of work I am pleased to take advice from people of any nation, gender or belief system - if they have the relevant experience, and a positive attitude, to add benefit and value to operations. Of course, advice may need to be adapted to the local challenge - but at the end of the day, we now live in a melting pot of cultures, a mixed bag of races, with rainbows of colours and all in the village we call Planet Earth. It really is just a tiny spec of dust when we consider the cosmos - and we need to get down to work together - all nations - as one, towards a Planet Wide Economic Solution. That is just a big team. Imagine that the Black Stars represented 11 different nations, all playing together. Then one of them decides to run around and create his own goal posts on the side of the pitch... the other players would simply carry on playing, ignoring him. If he then decides to join the game of nations, and to work as a team - everybody embraces that change of heart and readily plays together - aiming at the ONE goal. Not all players will have possession of the ball for the same amount of time. They don't all earn the same amount of money. they are not all the same size, weight, age or even live in identical houses. BUT they do all work together.

It is the same with the crew of an aircraft. Each person has a role to play, and the passengers too. But it is only if they all work together, including the passengers following the lead of the crew, stepping out of line if necessary for a safety matter, that the flight leaves, travels and arrives safely - in the right place, at the right time. We have all seen what happens when just one passenger - or one crew member - decides to sabotage a flight. Often such 'hijackings' appear to be motivated by good intentions - seeking asylum and a better life, for example. However, it if it is a negative action in relation to the needs of the majority of those aboard - and the world in general, when the plane lands that individual simply loses their freedom - no matter their positive or negative intentions.

So it is with our economy, unless we all work together - like a football team, or the crew and passengers of an airliner, we can quickly end up in the wrong place, with a loss of earnings, dashed opportunities and reduced freedom. We must share our visions, but the crew at the top must be ready and willing to bring to fruition a successful outcome where all arrive at their destination, winners, with a better lot than they started the journey - experienced, equipped and ready to move forwards on the next adventure.

Capt. Yaw is Chief Flying Instructor and Chief Engineer at WAASPS, and Pilot/Engineer with Medicine on the Move, Humanitarian Aviation Logistics ( e-mail

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