Captain, Turn Off That Device

I’m not saying the pilot of the Aerolineas Argentinas Airbus was texting while parking last night—you know how we amp the iPhone on landing—I’m just saying you’ve got two pilots with more onboard-computer power than Apollo 11, who wing it from Buenos Aires to Miami and then have a wingtip-tail-section bender at the gate with Air France 777. It makes you want to find out why.

No one has even suggested there was an Argentinian text. I apologize for the disassociated leap. FT member Panan Clipper read the details. But ever since that Northwest Airlines flight in 2009 overflew MSP by a couple of counties while the pilots surfed their laptops, the FAA has been planning to prohibit the use of personal electronics by pilots, except for flight operations, for the entire flight duration.

Currently the “sterile cockpit” rule is only in affect below 10,000 feet.

Oh, and then there was that Colgan disaster also in 2009, where the co-pilot sent a personal text from her phone after leaving the gate. Did the distraction cause her to miss some information that later led to the crash? The FAA might think so.

The new proposal from the FAA, which congress wants, will be published in next week’s Federal Register. Then there’s a 60-day stretch to receive feedback from airlines, their lobbyists and probably a few wing-nuts.

Back at the gate in MIA last night, in the collision that did not involve texting, no one was hurt. But the Air France 777-300, ready for departure and struck by the Airbus, was going nowhere while passengers with pulsing temple veins wheeled their way to horrendous lines, rebooking nightmares, and the usual steely eyes and confrontations when business class jumps economy.

Now was the time for texting.

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