Are You an Aircrew Passenger or an Aircrew Member

ASOG Focus Area | Training & Education

Source | ASOG Training Center

Suppose you're an Airborne Sensor Operator or a non-rated crewmember (Observer, Host Operator, Flight Med Tech, etc.) who regularly flies. Do you have the right aircrew role & responsibility perspective or focus? One aspect of this role is how active or attentive you are, from mission planning to debriefing. This attentiveness or attitude differentiates a passenger or active aircrew member. So, what are the signs of an ASO acting like a passenger?

12 Signs You're a Passenger

An Airborne Sensor Operator is primarily responsible for operating and managing sensors and data collection equipment on board aircraft, drones, or other aerial platforms. Their role is crucial in various applications, including surveying, surveillance, mapping, and environmental monitoring. Here are signs that an ASO may appear more like a passenger than an active crewmember:

  1. Neglecting Sensor Operation - Failing to actively monitor, adjust, or troubleshoot sensor equipment during the mission is a clear sign of passivity. An operator should be constantly engaged with the sensors.
  2. Inattentiveness to Data - Not paying attention to data streams, displays, or sensor readings can indicate a lack of engagement in the data collection process.
  3. Lack of Communication - Operators must communicate effectively with other crew members, such as pilots, analysts, or mission coordinators. A lack of communication or failure to report issues or observations can be concerning.
  4. Nonchalant Attitude - Displaying a casual or disinterested attitude toward mission objectives, safety procedures, or standard operating procedures can indicate passivity.
  5. Overreliance on Automation - While automated systems are standard in sensor operations, operators who excessively rely on automation without actively monitoring the equipment or data can become passive.
  6. Failure to Respond to Alerts or Anomalies - Ignoring or not responding promptly to sensor alerts, equipment warnings, or data anomalies can signify passivity.
  7. Ignoring Mission Objectives - Operators should be focused on achieving mission objectives. Disregarding or not actively contributing to these objectives can indicate disengagement.
  8. Lack of Adaptability - In dynamic situations or changing mission requirements, operators who fail to adapt or provide input for decision-making may not be actively engaged.
  9. Physical Signs - Slouched posture, fatigue, or not actively manipulating sensor controls can indicate passivity.
  10. Disinterest in Training - Failing to stay updated with training, not keeping up with advancements in sensor technology, or not following best practices can lead to a passive approach to sensor operations.
  11. Passenger-Like Behavior - An operator who seems more interested in non-mission-related activities, such as socializing with other crew members, chatting, or focusing on personal matters during critical mission phases, may not be actively engaged.
  12. Lack of Data Review - Not actively reviewing or analyzing collected data or failing to provide input to data analysts or decision-makers can indicate passivity.


It's essential to remember that effective sensor operation is critical for mission success, safety, and the quality of data collected. Any signs of passivity or disengagement from the operator can have severe consequences in various applications, including military surveillance, search and rescue, environmental monitoring, and disaster response. If you observe yourself or other crew members exhibiting these signs, addressing the issue is essential to ensure mission objectives are met and data quality is maintained.

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