Monday, June 30, 2014

June 30th, 2014

Fresh Air Matters... with Capt. Yaw

Today the year is roughly at its mid-point. It reminds me of the question 'Is your glass half-empty or half-full?'. Traditionally, we propose that those who say 'half-empty' are the pessimists, and that those who say 'half-full' are the optimists. It is all about how we see 'our lot'.

Imagine you are in an aircraft with half-full, or half-empty, tanks of fuel. How would you see it? Would it be 'time to turn back'? or would it be 'time to plan how much further you can go'?

I often tell people 'I will go in any direction, as long it is forwards'. I have also been heard to say 'Don't look back, because that is not where we are going'. It is always good to have a balanced outlook, with an awareness of where we have come from, and an ambition to reach our destination. Sadly, most of us lack the means to get where we want to go in the shortest possible time. That does not mean 'give up', it means 'change your outlook'.

Let us return to the glass. This is how I see it.

Whether my glass is half-full, quarter-full, or just got a few drops in it, I am thankful for what I have, rather than what is lacking.

When I only have a glass, without any contents, I am thrilled to own a glass - for it is a start.

When I have a broken glass, I am able to collect the shards and melt them to make some wonderful glass beads (I live in Krobo-land, after all!).

When I do not have a glass, I am fortunate not to have wash it. (but I look forward to getting one if I can!)

You see, it is all about perception. You determine your state of mind. You determine your positive outlook, and that makes you a pleasant person to be around - or a negative one, if you want to self-destruct and wallow in self-pity...

Eleanor Roosevelt, a First Lady of the USA, stated that 'No one can make you feel inferior without your consent'. In other words, YOU determine your state of mind, not what others say about you. You determine your mental position, and you are able to ignore what others say, it is your choice.

Our future really is our choice. Not what we own, not what we do, but who we are, how we feel, and our personal happiness, and success, is simply a state of mind away.

Being a pilot, such a state of mind is essential. We all have moments when things 'go wrong' or at least look that way! It is normal, we fly machines! On a recent flight with a young person on their first flying lesson, the oil pressure gauge suddenly deflected well past normal - into the red zone. There are four possible reasons for this to happen.

1. Oil pressure has gone crazy-high. Something is seriously wrong with the engine, and it could stop any moment.

2. The gauge is faulty and misreading.

3. The sensor has failed and is mis-sending.

4. A wiring problem has occurred (a broken wire or a connector issue).

We were at two thousand feet, and could not simply pop outside to take a look at the wiring and sensor. We did tap the gauge - but to no avail. So, we had no idea about the exact reason. The most probable reasons were 'a broken wire' or the sensor connector had come loose, or corrosion had stopped the signal coming along. Oil temperature was stable, so it was probably NOT an engine problem, but all the same action had to be taken. So, it comes to a decision point 'continue and ignore the signs', or 'land at the earliest possibility'. With either choice, caution has to be maintained, in case the issue is related to engine function, and if it is, the propeller could stop spinning at any time, so a route to enable an emergency landing, if needed, must be maintained.

Since 'there are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots', it was time to cut the lesson short and head back to the airfield. The student and I had a discussion, and although we both felt that it was 'nothing to worry about', it was prudent to land and find the cause of the problem.

At that point, one's state of mind can enter into 'panic' or, by choice, 'remain calm'. Panic would only create a problem. Panic or over-worry only detracts from your performance. Being aware of the risks, and remaining calm, flying with every bit of your training at your fingertips, is the key to getting back on the ground safely.

I explained that we would take a 'steeper angle of approach than usual', going on to give the reason 'just in case the engine does decide to quit, which I doubt, but we have a warning signal on the panel'.

As I pulled the power back the gauge flicked to normal, and then went back to a full-deflection into the 'red zone'. We were less than five hundred feet off of the ground, and my ears were fully tuned to the engine noises, but from now on, I would not look at the gauge. If the engine were to quit, I would need to do nothing more than I have done on every flight, 'fly the plane'. With or without the engine, I must simply remain in control, making the right decision every second.

The engine continued to purr, and we landed without incident. Post flight inspection found that the connection to the sensor had corroded, and broken down, just behind the spade, within the heat-shrink. Ten minutes later a new connection was made, the log-book entries made, and the aircraft ready for flight. The 'issue' was one of 'communication'. The sensor was unable to get its signal to the gauge because of a broken wire. The little 'flick' of the sensor on approach was probably due to vibrations, on engine power change, that made a momentary connection.

The successful landing could have turned into a drama, if we had not remained calm and looked on the positive side of our situation, being ready to deal with an emergency if it happened, but remaining focused, and in control, flying with what we had. Yes, it brought its moments of added 'concern', but at no point did we let the concern get in the way of our moving forward and taking the right decisions. Focusing on the 'gauge' would have meant not looking out of the cockpit... which would have led to a disaster!

Life really is just like flying a plane. You must learn to read the signs, and to accept that sometimes, generally through lack of communication, the wrong signals - or no signals - get sent, and you must not become focused on those issues, but you must always 'look ahead', 'fly your plane', 'move forwards', and be ready to make every landing a smooth one.

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

Monday, June 23, 2014

June 23rd, 2014

Fresh Air Matters... with Capt. Yaw

The company I work for was recently privileged to be audited by the Ghana Revenue Authority. What lovely people they are. Seriously. Much as I was uneasy about 'what they might behave like', they did a thoroughly professional job, going through every piece of paper for several years, and asking lots of technical questions. They showed a real interest in the business, its practices and what it did. They were totally professional. It was a very positive experience. Well done GRA! 

They advised on how to 'better comply' with the system in a clear and precise manner. What I found hardest was the 'education about policy in Ghana' that damages local development. I was shocked to realise that our 'Tax Laws' can be terribly 'anti-Ghanaian' and most definitely 'anti-rural development'. We talked about my feelings, with the GRA and our own financial auditors, and much as those professionals in taxation and business law could understand my point of view, they pointed out, quite rightly, that 'they didn't make the rules'. So, we are being, through economic and policy impact, forced to support larger foreign companies, and to avoid spending money in the local economy. Simple - those are the rules. Did that wake you up? Does that make you 'angry'? Or, are you nodding your head?

Well, let me explain.

I work in aviation and engineering in rural Ghana. It is a happy choice. I used to try to support local businesses where possible for supplies. Wouldn't you? But I can't any longer. Let us look at the most striking 'anti-rural development rule' that makes no sense: Withholding Tax.

Withholding tax is, in effect, a punitive tax on the purchaser and the supplier - and particularly anti-rural development. It states that for certain purchases (above a nominal amount), you must 'withhold 5% of the purchase amount, and go physically to a tax office, pay it on behalf of the company you are purchasing from, get a certificate and take it to the company - or make it available to them'. So, for the seller, they lose 5% of their sale (even if their profit margin is less than 5%), and for the purchaser, well, they incur a) additional paperwork, b) transport costs, c) time and effort costs, d) a delay in access to the product (since you may have to take the certificate for the 5% to them), and d) probably an increased price from the seller to cover the 5%. BUT there is good news! Some companies are EXEMPT from the 5% withholding tax! Yes, they are bigger companies - and YES, they are in the urban areas - and YES they are often foreign owned... So, the smaller, local, companies are 'being restricted' from market access and growth because of the rules. Still not convinced? Let me give you an example.

If I purchase GHS11,750 of product from a company in Tema (with foreign ownership and lots of foreign nationals on their payroll), they are exempt from the 5% withholding tax (GHS500), and will give me a VAT receipt. I can pick up the product, pay the money and even get the GHS1,750 VAT allowed against my sales in a matter of minutes! However, had I wanted to 'facilitate my local economy', and to obtain the same items from my local supplier, being ready to write off the VAT against convenience and supporting the local economy (since they are not VAT registered), I find that then I have to send a person to the tax office to pay 5% of the purchase price - and that the 'seller' is going to add that amount to the price he is quoting, since he is only make a few percent on the sale anyway. Yes, that is the reality of withholding tax. It makes us seek out larger companies in urban areas who are exempted. It prevents the growth of smaller, particularly rural companies (because access to the tax offices is more challenging, time consuming and transport intensive). Withholding tax is, albeit unintentionally, a de facto punitive tax on rural development. But it is the law, and so, we will no longer make larger purchases in the rural areas. We will not be 'practically enabled' to boost the development of our local area, simply because the rules were written for those in the urban areas. (Perhaps they will change if somebody reads this). I don't like it. I don't think it is fair on the small Ghanaian businesses - but we didn't bring the rules, we must simply follow them.

This leads us to the new currency control rules. I may be in the minority (?) by being concerned about their effects, but I know that I am not alone in feeling their effects. The new 'amended rules', leave me further concerned for the development of Ghana's (especially rural) businesses. Rather like the 'withholding tax being an urban concept', the same goes for the 'currency controls'. 

The statement last week states 'Exporters of services such as hotels, educational institutions, insurance companies and others may receive payment in foreign currency from non-residents.' 

This winds me up as much as the fact that Aburi Gardens, Mole Game Reserve and other places have a two tier charging system 'one price for Ghanaians, and another for so called foreigners'. (How would a Ghanaian feel being charged more than an American or European to enter an event in the USA or Europe - regardless of the economic ability?)

Rules should be the same for everybody. Regardless of where you are from - or where you are based. So, with the new rules, a 'white person', resident or not, can easily use foreign currency - since nobody will ask questions. BUT a resident Ghanaian cannot enjoy the same economic benefit of using foreign currency that they have in their possession! Wow! I am left wondering about how this came about? 

But it gets worse... even non-residents still cannot purchase GOODS with foreign currency (the new rules are only for services). AND Ghanaian businesses cannot insure their foreign purchased items in foreign currency - making the Ghanaian entrepreneur the one who is 'disadvantaged', or so it seems to me.

Remember, this whole currency thing is based on the URBAN economy - those with ready access to a FOREX bureaux, banking systems and infrastructure! (Forex bureaux really are hard to find in the rural areas!). Consequently, a visitor who is travelling in our neck of the woods cannot legally purchase items using their foreign currency - and cannot change the money locally - and the Ghanaian entrepreneur would be breaking the law to take the foreign cash. Another blow to rural development.

Surely, if we want to make our wonderful nation attractive to investment, tourism and development - urban and rural - for Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians - we need to level the playing field. Right now the economic playing field is heavily inclined towards big business, foreign owned and in urban locations - and the economic ball is running down the pitch at speed, leaving rural areas without practical access to much needed development - by LAW! 

At least that is how I feel - living and working in rural Ghana, speaking to rural dwellers and rural business folks. Perhaps many of those reading this are working in foreign owned urban businesses - and are enjoying the rules that favour their game... Just remember, unless greater equality and distribution of wealth is established, it will eventually strangle the market of demand, and the whole nation will suffer. We all need rural development to drive nationwide economic growth and sustainability. We need policies and rules that level the overall playing field - urban and rural, foreign and national. Simple as that. These are my views, and perhaps I am wrong... I would love to hear your views on these matters... so drop me a line.

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

Monday, June 16, 2014

June 16th, 2014

Fresh Air Matters... with Capt. Yaw

If you board a bus or train, in certain countries, you will find 'Priority Seats' - often made available by law, if not out of consideration for the clientele of the service. These are seats set aside for the elderly, pregnant, disabled or otherwise infirm. Anybody can sit on the seat. It has no special device to detect and eject any able-bodied person who should use it. It operates on a trust basis. If there is a shortage of seats, and nobody who is 'eligible' for the Priority Seat is aboard, then anybody may sit on the seat. Should an eligible party board the vehicle, it is expected that the seat will be liberated in favour of the person in greater need. It is not easily enforced, but there is general 'protocol' - a sort of 'herd method of enforcement'. Most people respect the needs of others less able than themselves - or in more need than themselves - and are ready to ensure that the Priority Seat spirit is enforced. It is a simple, human need, combined with human compassion solution. The setting aside of resources, and making of resources available, to those in need is the backbone of a humanitarian society. It is all based on the concept of 'priority', and not that the biggest and best get everything, but that those who need get what they need. It requires a working understanding of the difference between 'need' and 'want' across all sectors of the society.

'I want to sit down on the bus.', is one thing, but 'I need to sit down on the bus.' is another. Of course, there will always be the person who is selfish enough to say 'I need to sit down because I want to sit down.', those people are the ones who spoil positive development of society - often labelled with unpleasant names by those with the better attitude.

I used to be in a wheelchair, and perhaps that has changed the way I think, but let us imagine a more pragmatic approach. Let us decide that today you will not give up your seat to a less able person, you decide that 'you want it, so you need it'. Now, jump forward a few years... How do you feel when you are less able and get treated the same way? You are unfortunate enough to be struggling - unable to stand for long... or perhaps you are with your heavily pregnant wife... and you now NEED to use that seat, but, everybody else has taken your demonstrated lead, from before, and decided that they WANT that seat... You may have created your own reverse scenario - and suffer accordingly. Remember, we 'reap what we sow!'

'Ah, but we are in Ghana and we are all in need.', is a simple response - and one that I have heard too many times as an excuse for unacceptable behaviour by people who should know better. But it is not valid, for our degrees of need in our society are still very noticeable - as are our degrees of greed! Our society is burdened with a number of people who struggle to differentiate between their needs and their wants. Their wants are perhaps better seen as 'greed', and it has a devastating ability to damage our society. The word that is essential in understanding this challenge, and to finding a solution, is 'Priority', as in Priority Seats. 

When there are abundant resources, there is no issue with everybody having what they want - but when there are constrained resources, that is where the men are separated from the boys and the sheep from the goats. That is when the leaders, in all walks of life, are given the opportunity to shine - to stand out, to stand up and to be counted. Sadly, we seem to be in a world where those who 'have' are less and less likely to do the polite - what we often call 'the right' - thing. 

Why is it 'right' to respect 'priority' in society? Because that is what makes us human. If we wish to behave like animals, we would be like the wild dogs, hunting down our prey as a group, but once we achieve a kill, we fight to take the biggest portion - or if possible, the whole carcass. There is no a single human society without a 'wild dog' amongst them, but fortunately, our humanity has an amazing tendency to rise about that level of barbarism. Should we ever lose that ability, we will lose our humanity. 

Of course, priority is present on the roads and in the air. The 'Rules of the air' state that powered aircraft must give way to non-powered aircraft... for example, hot air balloons and gliders have priority over aircraft with engines. It also states that the glider must give way to the hot air balloon! Basically, the more able (as in more controllable) aircraft will always give way to the less able. Once again, aviation reflects the basis of a successful society! 

The same rules exist on our roads... but are rarely seen being applied. The vehicle on the roundabout (i.e. in motion) has priority over the vehicle 'joining' (not in motion) the roundabout... or so the rules of the road (the highway code) states. Yet, we see time and time again these rules, established for safety, being completely ignored - and often by those who should know better! The vehicle wishing to join the highway from a side road (not in motion) must give way (in fact we have signs that state that very requirement) to the traffic in motion on the highway. Yet, we see accident after accident due to the driver joining WANTING to join 'NOW NOW NOW', and not having the self-discipline demanded of all road users. They do not NEED to take the risk of causing an accident - but they often perceive that they are 'more important' than those already on the road. Their desire to save a few minutes may, and often does, cost lives. If you think that following the rules, understanding and respecting priority, and the associated safety is expensive and time consuming - try an accident! 

It is not just about training and education - it is about 'mindset'. You can develop a mindset that is humanitarian, safety, need and development orientated - or you can slip into the animal world of barbarism, careless, greed and selfishness. The choice is yours. 

Why not put the word 'Priority' up somewhere in your office or home, and ask yourself each day 'what is your priority - and does somebody else deserve being given priority'? I am sure that you will find a greater peace, and ultimately a happier life, perhaps less rich in financial terms, but much more wealthy in terms of your humanity. 

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

Thursday, June 12, 2014

June 9th, 2014

Fresh Air Matters... with Capt. Yaw

Each week I sit down to write this column, not knowing exactly what will spill from my fingers onto the keyboard. Whether it is about safety, education, economics or our political challenges... I always find a clear and strong correlation to the world of Aviation. Of all the things that mankind has developed, flying machines are the most amazing - and have a need for a very different approach, if you wish to survive! I have often said 'the closest creation to a living being mankind has ever achieved is the aeroplane'. Planes are amazing - they really are. If you have never flown in a small plane, you have not lived. You have not seen the planet from above; you have not experienced the breathtaking beauty of three-dimensional freedom in the skies; you cannot appreciate the life of a bird; you have not been in the elevated position of seeing the world from above; you are, simply put, incomplete. 

Imagine that you had never sat in a car or a tro-tro... you could not 'know what it is like'. However, after the fifth or sixth time in a tro-tro, or any other motorised vehicle, you are 'immune to the sensation'. It becomes 'boring'. Flying is not like that, not at all. I have made thousands of flights - and every single time it is awe-inspiring. You would not believe how much so, unless you fly! I aviate most weeks, generally over the same parts of Ghana, in the Eastern Region, and I find that it is always vibrant, new, exciting and amazing. Flying really is 'spiritual'. It moves you deep inside, it opens up your mind, your heart and your spirit. Flying is incredible. You may even feel as if you could reach out and touch the face of God...

There is nothing magic about the act of flying - it is simply physics. Four forces working together; Lift, Drag, Thrust and Weight. You need enough thrust to overcome drag to enable forward movement so that the air over the wing generates more lift than the weight of the ensemble - and you are flying. It is that simple. The theory of flight is a science, but flying itself really is the ultimate art form. As a pilot you paint your way through the sky, you carve holes in the air, you ride the invisible waves of the wind, you become one with the currents of air, and then, when the time sadly comes around, you control with precision the moment and position of contact between machine and planet. Just writing about it makes me woozy! It is not a new feeling... in fact one of the Royal Air Force's World War II Spitfire pilots wrote:

"Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air....

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
- Put out my hand, and touched the face of God."

John Gillespie Magee Jr., 1941

To this day, those same sentiments and emotions are held in the minds and hearts of every impassioned aviator. Aviation is, it seems, a sort of 'religion'. It is a way of living your life. The rules, if allowed to flow through your whole existence, are strong, worthy and positive. Those who break the rules of aviation are doomed, one day or another, and it catches them up. You cannot cheat on an aircraft - you cannot break the rules of the air, for if you do they will slam you with a mortal blow. Yet, if you respect the rules, work as a team, ensure the planning and the maintenance, hold to the values of honesty and attention to detail - you reap the rewards - not just in the air, but on the ground also.

How can it affect you on the ground? Well, one of our ex-students is now working in another country, in a nice new job. It has nothing to do with aviation. Yet, when he met me recently he said 'Aviation has changed the way I work - it has made me a better person, and a better manager'. I asked him to expound, and he explained 'I find myself making quicker and better decisions, seeing the impact of things and being able to navigate my job and life better'. 

Aviation is about rules, and rules, when applied fully and daily, make for a more defined, fulfilling and successful life. Without rules, without values, there is no purpose, no satisfaction and no order. This is the basis of successful human - and society - development. 

It is not surprising therefore, that as we see the rules of development and economic growth being dropped into the waste disposal unit, we find that there is a growing dissatisfaction, and a lack of achievement around the world. Those countries with strong, honest and corruption free regulatory frameworks grow faster and more sustainably than those with a more 'laissez faire' attitude. The corruption riddled, rule ignoring societies appear to be the ones that slip down the slippery slope of despair for their people, finding instability and poverty as their reward.

You cannot take an aircraft into the air without all the parts in place, proper training, good health and a suitable support structure. Well, you can, once... but it won't end well. And so it is with our society as a whole. We must get all the parts in place, ensure proper training at all levels for all citizens, a stable and effective health system - and make sure that our support structures are solid - whether that is our relationship with the international community, ECOWAS and the WTO or with international investors, who shore up accelerated development. Then, and only then, can we enjoy safe and sustainable 'flight' - provided we maintain all the factors that get us there.

Of course, the same applies to a business, a family or even a school or college. Like it or not, Aviation lays down the basics that are proven to work, and we can all learn from them - whether we want to fly or not!

Well, I am off to fly now - following the rules, and enjoying the benefits.

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

Monday, June 2, 2014

June 2nd, 2014

Fresh Air Matters... with Capt. Yaw

After last weeks column, I have been asked to explain more about Crew Resource Management, and so I will indulge, with pleasure. Those who know me well, know that asking a simple question will often lead to a complex, detailed explanation, following the D.E.E.P. principle. Describe, Explain, give Examples and Provide an opportunity for the person asking to use knowledge transferred. So, here we go.

DESCRIBE: CRM, as defined on Wikipedia (not the best place to find a definition, but it works for this purpose) is 'a set of training procedures for use in environments where human error can have devastating effects. Used primarily for improving air safety, CRM focuses on interpersonal communication, leadership, and decision making in the cockpit.'

CRM was introduced to the airlines in response to the human relation challenges created by the flying environment. Following the investigation and analysis of causes in the United Airlines Flight 173 crash in 1978, CRM became a fresh set of letters in the Aviation Alphabet Soup. The trigger crash was caused by the plane running out of fuel - something overlooked whilst the crew were distracted with a landing gear problem. It raised a load of questions about 'who does what' and 'who should take responsibility' - it changed the way we look at the 'workings of a flight crew'. The American NTSB (National Transport Safety Board) subsequently recommended CRM training for all US airline crews. Even NASA (North America Space Agency) picked up on the importance of CRM and provided a detailed workshop on the topic, in the wake of the report. United Airlines were the first airline to implement CRM training for its flight crews in 1981, and that has since become a worldwide standard. It has made flying safer - and the principles have trickled down to the smallest aircraft - and out of the aviation industry to a much wider audience. There is no doubt in my mind that this is one of the lowest cost, with highest return, investments any airline can make - and for that matter any organisation.

EXPLAIN: So what is it? Well, once we understand that most accidents - whether in the air or on the ground - are caused by humans, and that no one person can have eyes and ears on everything at any one time, we can begin to put together CRM. It is the practice of using ALL human resources available - all of the time. Just because there is only one Captain, it does not mean that she must be able to do everything herself. It brings to the forefront the ability of those in charge to accept, embrace and encourage safety related inputs from all available people - whether they are 'specifically trained' or even 'totally new to the situation'. It is about accepting that the 'person in charge' is not 'infallible', and that all can bring their observations, recommendations and experiences to the table, in a fluid, real-time and no-blame culture environment. It is about the team leader and team members working as 'one set of eyes, ears, noses and decision making units' - it takes good leadership and good follower-ship skills - or integrated team work - to make effective.

EXAMPLES: Let us consider two aviation examples, since that is the home of CRM. We will first look at that flight which triggered this life saving system, remembering those who gave their lives on that flight, for their sacrifice which has made our lives safer today:

The aircraft took off with plenty of fuel - far more than it would normally need. The cockpit crew, Captain, First Officer and Flight Engineer, were all experienced. During the approach the landing gear gave problems, leading to time spent trying to resolve the issues. Along the way the Captain asked about fuel, the Flight Engineer gave him updates - simple statements. As the troubleshooting progressed, the Flight Engineer issued several statements about fuel remaining, and finally stated 'three minutes', and the Captain, knowing that he had five minutes to touchdown, appears to have completely ignored the condition telling the First Officer to 'shut down the fuel boosters on touch down'. It is all in the cockpit recording transcript! Remember, the mentality at that time was 'The Captain knows best', and the idea of challenging him was, for many people, 'unthinkable'. Sadly, they never made the airport. The fuel ran out on approach - just as the First Officer had 'warned' but not taken 'responsibility' over. Of course, it is more complex, and there is no blame on individuals - this was a team failure, but it gives you an idea of a non-CRM situation. This lack of Crew Resource Management - the failure of the team leader and team members to work as 'one set of eyes, ears, noses and decision making units' - is found in all industries around the world - and in many Government Agencies also.

On the positive side, I will give an example of my own experience.

I was flying from Kpong to Techiman with a very low hours pilot. We took off and headed towards Akosombo to intercept the Afram leg of Lake Volta, flying a visual route and taking the most scenic options! As the flight progressed, the weather was building up from the South, but we were good to stay on course. My colleague provided regular observations on fuel level, fuel consumption, distance to run, etc. I was busy flying the plane, and watching the weather from the South. Then, I heard over the intercom 'Cylinder head temperature rising'. Enough words to get my attention to the little round gauge that had gently been going from the green towards the red zone as we flew along. It had escaped my attention, simple - I am not infallible. We changed engine regime, monitored the temperature and kept it within the limits - we all ended the flight safely, thanks to CRM. In our local conditions it is easy to get occupied with 'the bigger picture' and to miss out on the details - but there is where your 'crew' come in. Having an 'open management' environment, where the experienced as well as the inexperienced are able to bring observations and recommendations to the table, and they are welcomed, is at the heart of CRM - whether in the cockpit - the car - the hospital operating theatre - the home or the workplace.

PROVIDE AN OPPORTUNITY: Next time you are in a car - as a driver or a passenger - try to think about how you can add to the safety of the trip. As the driver, encourage your passengers to share in the information gathering - as a positive, inclusive leader. As a passenger be ready to point out hazards and keep an eye of the fuel gauge - just in case! Never be afraid to remind the driver to wear their seatbelt - or the correct shoes to drive in.

In business, it is all too easy to think that the 'Director' must know all that is going on - and to keep quiet, letting them take the blame if it comes around. However, all employees are the eyes and ears of the Director - and the company. Relaying key, pertinent information to the top can improve operations, safety and profits. As a leader of industry - think about how you can implement CRM into your operations - in a 'no blame' culture. As an employee - remember that even if 'the company is not for your father', it puts the bread on your table, and you owe it to yourself, your colleagues and the management to become a Crew Resource Management asset.

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