Several fairly recent events (pilots overshooting a runway, for one) have brought the issue of pilot distraction to the forefront. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), to this point, had deemed the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) response to the problem as “unacceptable.”
However, the FAA now appears to be making a somewhat aggressive move to address the issue of pilot distractions:
“In its notice to airlines today, the FAA emphasizes that carriers should take specific steps to eliminate cockpit distractions. The agency says airlines should create a ‘safety culture’ – a top-to-bottom expectation that safety will be taken seriously – that emphasizes eliminating distractions. The FAA calls on carriers to set more specific rules and improve training.” (from the USA Today)
In a world where texting, checking emails on your phone, and near constant-connectivity have become the norm, some pilots appear to be like most of us; unable to put to put it all away for a few hours. However, this isn’t something that Transportation Secretary Roy La Hood is willing to let slide:
“There is no room for distraction when your job is to get people safely to their destinations…The traveling public expects professional pilots to focus on flying and on safety at all times.”
The FAA’s move is a voluntary one, but as pointed out in the same USA Today article, if airlines fail to follow guidelines, they could incur further inspection.