Threats, Civil Penalties, Criminal Prosecution, Politicians’ Admonitions
The Disruptions Continue
Aviation Rulemaking Committee offers de-escalation tactics
With the possible exception of the Max 8 and 5G messes, there have been few aviation safety issues which have received as much public attention as UNRULY PASSENGERS on board flights and the harm that they have done to the aviation safety professionals, flight attendants, who are there to protect their customers in emergencies. The coverage has long been present here and has focused on policies, punishments and possible actions:
· IATA Calls For Greater Governmental Action On Unruly Passengers While A SMS Review More Likely To Increase Aviation Safety Proactively (6/14)
- FAA Responds To Surge Of Passenger Unruly Or Dangerous Behavior (5/21)
- Deterring Disruptive Air Passengers, Protecting Flight Attendants (7/16)
· Chairman DeFazio’s Letter To FAA Re Prosecution Of Unruly Passengers Should Have Been Sent To Justice Ass’t AG Polite (8/21)
· “If You Want It Bad, You’ll Get It … Bad!”- Many Indictments Now-The RIGHT Instruction For Passenger “Defendants” (11/21)
In a crowded aircraft filled with passengers, some of whom are unsettled by the situation, the likelihood that the slightest disruption has been known to result in conflagration. The stress-inducing circumstances minimize the degree to which the potential miscreant will be conscious of or deterred by the consequences of an irrational, emotional act. Many of the airlines have terminated alcohol service and airport bars have been encouraged to be aware of “overserved” patrons.
The behaviors persisted, however, proving the futility of prior warnings. Below are excerpts from recent FAA documents suggesting (i.e., InFO) strategies to de-escalate the problematic disruption. The FAA notice (InFO Information for Operators 21006 Flight Attendant (F/A) Communication Techniques and Onboard Procedures to De-escalate Cabin Misconduct – see I below) is supplemented by a thorough development of specific tactics to deal with these situations (Air Carrier Training Aviation Rulemaking Committee (Recommendation 21-14) Best Practices to De-escalate Cabin Misconduct see II below)
The preamble to the ARC Report includes the academic research that supports this approach to psychological tactics likely to result in a more peaceful outcome. Probably the most useful aspect of Recommendation 21-14 are copied in II e,f &g below. Instructions like “establish rapport”, ”be empathetic”, “listen”, “can you tell me more about”, etc. Equally salient is the ARC’s counsel to use real-world scenario-based training.
It appears that the airlines have already put these recommendations into practice-
Flight Attendant (F/A) Communication Techniques and Onboard Procedures to De-escalate Cabin Misconduct.
 Spielfogel and McMillen define de-escalation as a “verbal or nonverbal communication strategy that can help a person regain a sense of calm and self-control.” They go on to note that two “common elements of de-escalation are (1) the attempt to reduce the use of heightened, disproportionate, or harsh responses to perceived conflict, and (2) the attempt to reduce heightened negative emotions present in the situation.”
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