Two bills introduced yesterday in Congress would require pilots to avoid distractions when they’re flying planes.
Sounds like a good idea! And it sounds like Congress is surfing the headlines!
It’s what we call “wakerider” legislation, when Congress jumps in on the latest news, offering a “fix”—often too late.
Of course, it was just last week that some Northwest pilots overshot their destination by 150 miles because they were on their laptops, distracted.
Congress to the rescue!
S. 2732 would require the Federal Aviation Administration to prohibit the use of portable electronic devices in the cockpit of commercial aircraft during flight and to conduct a study of the safety impact of distracted pilots. S. 2745 would prohibit the use of personal wireless communications devices and laptop computers by the flight crew of commercial aircraft on the flight deck during flight.
We’re all opposed to airline pilots being distracted. And the incident in question has pretty much made clear that camping on your laptop while you’re flying a commercial airliner is a no-no.
Did anyone think it was OK before? And does anyone actually think that having a new law about it—after the fact—is going to make a difference in pilots’ behavior? When some pilots screw up again, will Congress pass a law barring pilots from screwing up?
The point here, of course, is that Congress is trying to assert its relevance to everything that happens in the country. Should these bills pass, every time a plane doesn’t crash, we’ll have our federal legislators to thank!