Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Laptops, Cell Phones, and Dumbasses

According to this morning's news, the official explanation of why a Northwest Airlines airliner overflew its intended destination by 150 miles is that the two pilots were both using personal laptop computers to try out new crew scheduling software.

Consider that it is illegal in many - if not most - states to use a cell phone or send/receive text messages while driving, because the danger of accidents goes up tremendously when the driver is distracted.

Is "distracted flying" a crime? Perhaps not, but it is breathtakingly stupid. Defenders of the pilots say that the passengers were in no danger because the autopilot was on and all the navigational instruments were working, but that's baloney. These two men had the lives of scores of passengers in the aircraft in their hands...and thought it was more important to play with their laptops than to do their jobs.

There are enough distractions that affect us when we drive, walk, or fly. Common sense demands that we minimize those distractions to ensure everyone's safety. Delta Airlines (the parent company of Northwest) has given each passenger a $500 travel voucher as compensation for the "inconvenience." I suppose inconvenience is better than death. But the airline needs to fire both pilots and enforce safety standards.

I fly a lot. I expect that in exchange for the fare I pay, not to mention the extra amounts I pay for luggage, a decent seat, and "gourmet chocolate chip cookies," I will be safely transported from A to B. But I'm not sure any more.

John, what's your opinion as a professional air traffic controller?

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



Mike said...

I think I just found a new career. I can blog while the plane automatically flys itself. And get paid for it! It's a win win.

Jay said...

They were busy surfing porn.

Leslie David said...

It's scary enough that pilots go to sleep, don't get paid enough, and now this. Pilot and plane safety would be really nice things and better than a gourmet chocolate chip cookie. I hope they fire their asses too.

KKTSews said...

Every pilot I know thinks they should be fired.

The Mistress of the Dark said...

Your title amuses the hell out of me today.

John said...

Sorry to take so long to post a comment. I've been without a computer for a couple of days. It's so rare that anybody askes for my opinion that I find myself at a loss for words.

Since so much of the flight is automated today, it's easy to be distracted. Air traffic controllers have more errors when they are not busy than when they are busy. It's easier to keep focused on what the job at hand is when you have to be focused on the job at hand. I'd say that some common sense needs to be applied...but sense in no longer a common thing.

John said...

"askes" I think you all know that I meant to say "axes"