An editorial in the Miami Herald calls for “new rules to prevent pilot distraction.”
Since Delta, which has suspended and pledged to fire both pilots, already has a rule against using laptops in the cockpit and the FAA has revoked the pilots’ licenses, I wonder what new rules the editorialist has in mind. Perhaps Congress will pass a Resolution against overflying landing sites, or make it a federal crime to fly distracted. Something in me rebels at this sort of belt-and-suspenders legalism. I wonder if an analogy can’t be drawn to mandatory minimums or some kinds of hate crime legislation, which have the perverse effect of mitigating serious crimes. Just as I am less culpable for beating a member of a minority to death if I do it out of mere meanness rather than prejudice, will pilots who nearly crash planes because of incompetence be considered less blameworthy than those who were playing video games at the time? Maybe they should be, but I suspect the problem has less to do with a lack of rules pertaining to pilots than the lack of rules pertaining to their industry. Is it too much to hope for that the authorities will take a long look at the effects of de-regulation? Just a thought.