This year’s PACDEFF (The Pacific and Australasian CRM Developers’ and Facilitators’ Forum) took place in Brisbane in September. The AFAP was the principal sponsor of this important Human Factors conference, with a contingent of our staff and reps attending and participating in the workshops.

The PACDEFF 2023 Program consisted of two days of plenary presentations including four keynote speakers. In addition to plenary presentations, Day 2 had some parallel workshops and presentations running in the afternoon.

Here is a summary of AusALPA’s report from the 2023 conference.

The Pacific and Australasian CRM Developers’ and Facilitators’ Forum (PACDEFF) PACDEFF 2023 – PACDEFF stands as the world's largest conference in CRM (Crew Resource Management), NTS (Non-Technical Skills), and Aviation Human Factors. The 2023 conference hosted 350 attendees, emphasizing its global significance.

As a non-profit, non-partisan initiative, PACDEFF serves as a vital platform for Human Factors practitioners to convene and delve into contemporary issues within the Human Factors domain, with a specific focus on airline training. The conference featured a robust array of topics spanning CRM, NTS, Aviation Human Factors, and Aviation Psychology. This diverse agenda catered to a broad audience, including Human Factors professionals, Aviation Psychology experts, safety practitioners, pilots, and academics, reflecting the forum's comprehensive approach to addressing pertinent issues in the aviation industry.

Day 1 Highlights of PACDEFF Conference: Exploring NTS and HF Trends

The PACDEFF conference's opening day delved into Non-Technical Skills (NTS) and Human Factors (HF) trends. Key sessions included:

Keynote by Professor Rhona Flin:

  • Emphasized the distinction between NTS and HF.
  • Urged closed-loop training validation for effective outcomes.
  • Highlighted cultural differences in training effectiveness.
  • Referenced notable accidents and publications.

Keynote by Dr. Mike Walker – ATSB:

  • Outlined ATSB priorities and shared aviation accident statistics.
  • Introduced the Safety Watch program.
  • Explored issues of crew fatigue reporting and change management.

CASA Presentation by Dr. Robert Forster-Lee:

  • Discussed fatigue rule transitions during COVID.
  • Stressed the need for trust between Flight Crew Members and operators.
  • Raised questions about the effectiveness of safety cultures.

Operational Learning Review by Pete McCarthy (Cathay Pacific):

  • Shared insights into Cathay Pacific's OLR approach.
  • Focused on capturing day-to-day human performance and fostering a positive safety culture.

Various Presentations:

Covered diverse topics, including support in General Aviation, systemic analysis for safety improvements, and VR scenarios for training.

Shane Varga's Perspective on Industry Gaps (Air New Zealand):

  • Explored the gap in HF culture between engineering and flight operations.
  • Highlighted challenges such as a macho culture and outdated training materials.

In summary, Day 1 offered a rich array of insights, addressing NTS, HF, and safety culture in diverse operational contexts. Professionals gained valuable perspectives for enhancing safety and performance.

Day 2 Highlights of PACDEFF Conference:

Keynote 3 (Dr Gail Iles - RMIT Space Program):

Dr. Iles shared insights into her journey in the space sector, focusing on astronaut studies, European Space Agency (ESA) training, and the emphasis on resilience. Despite not becoming an astronaut, she became an EASA astronaut program instructor and contributed to establishing Australia's first Space Science program at RMIT.

Keynote 4 (Dr Ian Hosegood - Qantas):

Dr. Hosegood discussed Qantas' health and support approach post-COVID, integrating human factors into various business aspects. Emphasis was on proactive identification of weaknesses, particularly in drug & alcohol programs and mental health. The presentation highlighted the importance of a "Just Culture" for better leadership and psychological safety.

Flight Crew Forum:

Psychological and Physiological Fidelity of Flight Training Simulators - Dr. Christine Boag-Hodgson:

Explored simulator experiences using skin sensors and heart rate to measure physiological responses. Psych presence was assessed through participant surveys.

Human Factors Challenges in Remote Flying - Dr. Sravan Pingali:

Addressed unique challenges faced by pilots in remote areas, including issues with instrument understanding and the impact of professional isolation on decision-making.

Role of Human Factors in Desktop Training Devices - Prof. Tim Ryley:

Explored findings from Boeing R&D studies, examining various aspects of flight training, anxiety, bad habits, and the limitations of simulator training.

Human Factors Forum 1:

Human Performance Challenges in Future Space Operations - Assoc. Prof. Selina Fothergill:

Discussed RMIT's space education program from a student perspective, focusing on human performance in space missions and the need for regulatory considerations.

Sleep Behaviour in Royal Australian Navy Shift Workers - Nadine Cooper (RAN):

Presented RAN research on sleep, highlighting the impact of the SleepTank app on improving sleep hygiene and outcomes for shift workers.

Integrating HF/NTS and SMS Training - Cherie Love (CASA):

Advocated for integrating Human Factors/Non-Technical Skills (HF/NTS) training with Safety Management Systems (SMS) to enhance safety culture and organizational efficiency.

Human Factors Forum 2:

Helpful Conversations in Pilot Peer Support - Allan Baker:

Explored New Zealand's peer support program and the need for a reform initiative in medical assessments, aligning with mental health salutogenic principles.

Aviation Related Mental Wellness - Capt. Herwin Bongers (Air NZ):

Discussed the impact of different approaches to pilot mental wellness and the efficacy of peer support networks. Emphasized proactive measures and a salutogenic approach.

COVID Mental Health Effect on Chinese Aviation - Dr. Wu Xiaoyu:

Presented a study on the mental health effects of COVID on Chinese pilots, highlighting varying company practices and the role of unions in urging action.


NTS Challenges and Opportunities - Prof. Rhona Flin:

Explored issues and barriers in the delivery of Non-Technical Skills (NTS) training, discussing themes such as resourcing, company culture, and training methods.

Designing an HF/NTS/CRM Training Program - Lachlan Slatyer (ACE Training Centre):

Conducted a workshop on designing a comprehensive Human Factors/Non-Technical Skills/Crew Resource Management (HF/NTS/CRM) training program.

FRMS and Safety Performance Indicators - Dr. Matthew Thomas (Westwood-Thomas):

Focused on the importance of Safety Performance Indicators (SPIs) in Fatigue Risk Management Systems (FRMS), addressing data collection barriers and the need for a holistic appraisal of SPIs.

Performance Coaching in Qantas - Carolyn West (Qantas):

Explored performance coaching in Qantas, emphasizing the importance of providing support without stigmatization and creating a pathway back to operational roles.

These sessions covered a wide range of topics, from space exploration and pilot wellness to the integration of training programs and safety indicators in aviation.

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