reducing "Crew-caused"
approach and landing

Pilot-in-charge Monitored Approach

"Are you receiving me?"

CRM expert Frank Tullo writes that "Miscommunication between the pilot and the controller is the leading item cited in the NASA-managed Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS). Failure to communicate clearly can be especially dangerous and has been cited as a causal factor in a number of major accidents. Some of the worst examples of teamwork have been characterized by poor communications between the team members and also between the crew and those outside the cockpit."

In the 1990 Avianca fuel exhaustion accident, the NTSB summarised the key factors as breakdowns of communications between the flight crew and ATC, and among the flight crewmembers, so that the crew did not adequately notify ATC of their fuel situation.

One of the factors in this accident is that because the Captain was the PF, external communications were of course being conducted by the First Officer. The result was that the Captain's concerns as he attempted to resolve the many problems he was faced with (including poor weather and probably an inoperative autopilot) were not adequately conveyed to ATC, and their responses in turn were not adequately conveyed back to him.

This is part of the so-called "mitigation" process by which information being communicated is modified by the relationships between the "sender" and the "receiver".  A senior person will probably be quite direct in addressing a junior one, while the junior one may modify it significantly if trying to convey exactly the same information in the opposite direction.  

"Senior" and "junior" does not just mean in formal terms (e.g. Captain and First Officer on the flight deck) but also externally where there is a relationship with for example a company's operations control, and air traffic control. A junior First Officer may be less forceful speaking to one of those external parties than his own Captain would have been.  

In the AVIANCA accident this effect was multiplied because it affected communication between the Captain and ATC twice in each direction as information "passed through" the First Officer. The  Captain's colloquial English was poor, but his knowledge of standard "ATC" English was clearly sufficient to meet normal operational requirements, or he would never have accumulated nearly 17,000 hours experience. 

One cannot say for certain that the accident would not have happened if the Captain had been communicating with ATC himself, and delegated the flying to the First Officer, but it is certainly arguable that ATC would have been more aware of the Captain's concerns.

It is certainly the case that in much CRM training in dealing with significant abnormal situations, it is recommended that once any necessary immediate actions have been carried out, the Captain take over communication with ATC to remove the potential for confusion about tactical and strategic options and decisions. 

A 2012 case in point in the UK was another low fuel-state emergency, during a diversion following an unexpected and mishandled go-around, which might have been avoided if the Captain had not been PF throughout. Direct and unmitigated two-way communication between Captain and ATC is a natural consequence of PicMA operations.

Mitigation is of course also discussed as one very significant factor among many, in the "high cockpit authority gradient (CCAG) / ineffective monitoring"  problem, as the F/O may make only hints or suggestions to the Captain when attempting to correct perceived errors, while Captains will give instructions or direct orders.