Rather than bitch about the Copenhagen meetings on climate change -- we all pretty know how much nothing's going to come out of that thanks to Harper and other skeptics like him determined to scuttle any meaningful treaty -- I wanted to make note of another example of the pot calling the kettle black. In this case, it's about the Northwest pilots flying from San Diego to Minneapolis who overshot their destination because they were distracted by their laptop computers. Quite rightly, the FAA stripped them of their licenses. Then they claimed they were discussing new flight rules implemented by the company and they simply lost track of the time.
But now it seems the pilots, Cheney (no relation, far as I know) and Cole, are blaming the air traffic controllers and the airline. In statements filed on November 24th and released to the media today the airmen say that air traffic rules were violated by ground crew and personnel from the airline, and if they had been followed the mistake wouldn't have been made.
Maybe it's me, but if someone's trying to contact you repeatedly by radio and by the onboard computer that relays real time urgent messages and you don't respond to them, then there's one of two possibilities. Either you're so distracted you're not doing the job you're supposed to; or you're a terrorist who has no intention of responding because you have a "God-given" mission to "kill the infidels."
It's amazing the plane landed safely at all -- a few minutes more and it would have been necessary to scramble US and Canadian fighter jets to escort it to safety, and if necessary possibly have shot it down. Remember, when the pilots finally did contact the controllers the pilots were ordered to conduct a series of evasive manouvers first to prove it wasn't a hijacking. In this day and age, we need our pilots to absolutely pay attention. We need more pilots like Sullenberger and Skiles than Cheney and Cole, with all due respect. As for laptops, PDAs and the like, they may be necessary in the cockpit but there should be technology to ensure that while in flight the computers are locked so that they only process relevant flight information and nothing else.
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