Angeline Ram, PhD Candidate, Department of Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo
Angeline Ram is an aviation professional with 18 years of industry experience in Canada, the Middle East, conflict zones, and in both commercial and business aviation. She has worked in various roles starting as cabin crew, then moved on to AVSEC, training design and facilitation, quality assurance, auditing, SMS oversight, and audit and SMS system design and implementation. In 2018 she completed her MSc in Air Transport Management at Cranfield University to complement her industry experience. She is a published academic who is currently a fulltime Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Waterloo researching how perceptions of identity shape employee safety reporting behaviour. She also works as an aviation sessional lecturer and teaching assistant as required and is an SMS consultant specializing in maintenance safety culture and SMS design and its implementation for small-scale operations in the EU. She has presented at conferences that include the Canadian Aviation Safety Officer’s Partnership Conference, the Canadian Association of Geographers, Canadian Women in Aviation, and sat on several panels regarding continuing education, careers in aviation, as well as diversity in aviation. She is also a mentor to the next-gen, collaborates with industry professionals to evolve aviation safety through academic research and is also pursuing a Certificate in University Teaching to enhance aviation safety course design and its delivery.
Safety Culture of Belonging Through CRM – The Next Evolution
Aviation has thrived because of its workforce, who often prioritize operational requirements and their occupation over their own individual identities (family, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, immigration status and religion). Juxtaposed with the workforce’s commitment is an industry that continuously evolves operational safety through CRM and safety management systems.
However, in the last 20 years, aviation research has shown a culture of tolerance and acceptance for explicit and implicit discrimination circulating around individual identities. Discrimination adversely impacts job performance, a decreased willingness to raise minor safety concerns, and denial of its existence in exchange for social acceptance by the person harmed.
CRM research shows that workspaces are NOT culture-free zones, and people do not leave their problems at home. CRM’s next evolution can create a safety culture of psychologically safe workplaces, and equity (fairness, justice and belonging) for all identities by enhancing SMS to investigate and identify latent threats that adversely affect the workforce.
The HFACS framework has connected preconditions to unsafe acts and CRM – an overarching concept of threat and error management through effective teamwork. However, in 2018, when ICAO redefined aviation safety, blind spots emerged because any discrimination towards a person’s identity is not integrated into an SMS and siloed under occupational health and safety.
Before the Germanwings flight 9525 accident, mental health in aviation safety seemed like an unlikely conversation. Today, mounting evidence indicates a sense of belonging and fairness unite people in the workplace – its absence is divisive.
CRM’s evolution proactively enhances aviation’s safety culture and supports the next gen of aviation. By adding another safety net to CRM and further developing SMS through an IMS, the industry can see the workforce as people with unique identities who thrive in psychosocially safe workspaces to sustain the industry’s future.