Members of Congress are reacting to the recent incident where an airliner overshot its Midwestern destination by 150 miles, apparently due to distracted pilots. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he’s in favor of legislation that would ban laptop computers from the cockpits of commercial jets, as laptops were reportedly the cause of the incident.
Grassley says, “Unless it’s something that they’ve gotta’ have in their laptop that’s very much an integral part of their piloting a plane safely, then I would think that it’s just common sense that you wouldn’t be fiddling around with a laptop while you’re concerned about the safety of maybe more than 200 people on a plane that you’re piloting.”
On October 21st, the Northwest Airlines pilots of a San Diego-to-Minneapolis flew past their target for more than an hour and were well over Wisconsin before turning around. Federal regulators revoked the pilots’ licenses last week after the two claimed they lost their bearings while discussing company policy and using their laptops. Grassley says there’s no excuse for that sort of behavior from pilots — and from others who should have noticed the problem.
Grassley says, “What went on in the case of the Northwest Airlines pilots is pretty obvious from the standpoint of maybe they’re not being on the job and also now they’re raising the question of whether the people that are in the control tower were doing their job properly to keep on top of every plane, as they’re supposed to.” Senator Byron Dorgan, a Democrat from North Dakota, is the chair of the Senate’s aviation subcommittee and plans to introduce a bill next week to prohibit laptops from the cockpits of all commercial aircraft.