In the wake of the Federal Aviation Administration’s revocation of the licenses of two Northwest Airlines pilots who overshot the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport for “dereliction and disregard of their duties,” the Obama Administration is said to be considering additional regulations of pilot behavior.
A spokesman for the administration said “fixing things in the nation’s cockpits” will now be another top priority in the administration’s first year in office.
“The time to address the inattentiveness of America’s commercial pilots is now,” said the spokesman. “We are engaged. We are on it.”
The spokesman said this latest initiative is in keeping with the Administration’s blueprint for its first term, which is said to be entitled, “Do Everything We Can Think of All at Once.” That blueprint is on rethinking President Obama’s chief of staff Rohm Emmanuel’s dictum, “Never let a crisis go to waste” to the more activist, “Make everything that happens a crisis.”
The spokesman said that among the new pilot regulations under review are:
- A ban on all cockpit conversation not directly related to the flight in progress.
- Restrictions on the use of laptop computers.
- Limits on attending to pilot’s personal needs while in-flight.
- Strict observance of all scheduled destination landings.
The spokesman said that while the restraints might anger some pilots, some of the regulations may please many airline travelers.
“Under the new cockpit conversation regulation, for example, not only will pilots not be able to discuss company business or new policies among themselves, or any flight attendant info relative to upcoming layovers, but the regulations will also prohibit currently permitted pilot chit-chat with the passenger cabin. That chit chat includes the always insincere ‘Welcome aboard,’ and ‘Thank you for flying with us,’ as well as that totally irrelevant minutiae regarding flight speed, altitude and whatever it is that is visible ‘through the windows of the left side of the cabin.’”
According to a representative for the Airline Pilots Association, the group plans to challenge the restrictions related to laptop use.
“We realize that certain interactive laptop activities such as Internet poker and updating fantasy sports results could be interpreted as ‘distracting to pilots’ to some laymen unfamiliar with the ‘mind-numbing boredom of modern commercial flying.’
Nevertheless, pilots plan to argue that non-interactive laptop activity such as viewing adult entertainment sites should be exempted.
“The pilots also believe low-level interactive laptop game activity such as Solitaire or Minesweeper should be allowed on trans-oceanic flights,” said the representative. “Otherwise flyboys will be staring into the black sky all night like [‘Seinfeld’s’David] Puddy.”
When it was pointed out that the last regulation regarding the strict observance of all scheduled destinations could be interpreted as having prevented [Chesley B. Sully] Sullenberger from setting his plane down in the middle of the Hudson River, the Obama Administration spokesman replied: “Look a regulation is a regulation. It applies in all cases. Besides, if you think we don’t mean to prevent pilots from deciding to land in the middle of a freakin’ river instead of a runway, you are crazy!”
In a clarification of the proposed new rule regarding pilots’ personal needs, the Administration spokesman said all bathroom breaks would be allowed as before. “We only mean to regulate other personal activities such as various scratchings, knuckle crackings, cleaning earwax with a pencil eraser or other “flight unnecessary movements such as yawning, stretching and un-scrunching underwear, as in the case of boxers.”