December 13, 2012

Eliminating distractions in all forms of transportation is one of the National Transportation Safety Board’s Top 10 priorities for 2013, and NBAA fully supports the effort, said Doug Carr, NBAA’s vice president, safety, security & regulation.

Distractions are never-ending temptations, and resisting each of them depends on “discipline and professionalism, which are the hallmarks of what we in business aviation do,” said Carr.

No one is immune to a distraction’s allure, especially when lulled into comfortable complacency by familiar, low-workload situations. “If you’re cruising at altitude over the Atlantic or number 18 for takeoff, it takes a concerted effort to reject more appealing distractions,” continued Carr. “When distraction enters the safety equation, we have tools to deal with it appropriately, so it does not interfere or degrade the safety of flight.”

A hands-on and online resource is the Bombardier Safety Standdown, an initiative that NBAA has supported for some time, said Carr. Its face-to-face seminars are free and open to all pilots, crewmembers, maintenance technicians and managers, no matter what make and/or model of aircraft they operate.

“Avoiding distractions is not a ‘Thou-Shall-Not’ situation,” Carr explained. Individuals, crews and flight departments should learn how others have managed this safety threat as they instill their own procedures and requirements.

Perhaps the first step is accepting that multi-tasking is a myth. Computers appear to be multi-tasking, but like humans, their single processor “can only do one thing at a time, but it can do it much quicker than we can,” noted Carr.

“What we do in the airplane has a broader impact on our daily lives,” he continued. “The toll we as a nation have paid for the consequences of distracted activities is high, so let’s take the lessons from one element of life and apply them more broadly. If we automatically turn off our smartphone upon boarding the airplane, then chances are good that we won’t be tempted by this distraction when driving our car. And, by example, we encourage others to do the same.”