Aviation In Canada

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Phone in the Cockpit

In my travels, I recently encountered an ad for a piece of equipment that connects between an aircraft's headset jacks and the headset itself, allowing a pilot to connect, "a cellular phone or even an MP3 or CD player". The idea was born so a business pilot, "wouldn't miss any calls while flying," but the in flight audio was now possible through the pilot's headset as well.

Doesn't this seem like a bad idea? I have often tried to call pilots to issue clearances or information, only to be greeted with silence. I understand that sometimes you're busy and can't answer right away. Heck, ATC often has the same circumstances. Sometimes we're talking on a hotline to another controller, or even to the controller doing the data at the position next to me. But when I have to call four or five times, it gets kind of old. Personally, I'd be quite irate if I found out a pilot didn't hear me because he was listening to music or, especially, talking on his cell phone. This isn't a car you're riding in. But then, I'm against cell phone use by drivers of cars, too. The pilotting thing takes more attention than driving a car, and the idea of a pilot making a business call while in flight is just something I find a little disturbing. Is he even looking out the window while talking? What if it were IFR? Does he attentively scan his gauges while chatting to a client or his wife (or girlfriend)? To me, this is just plain dangerous, an accident waiting to happen.

No, I won't post a link to the equipment, since I would feel like I'm advertising it and, in a way, condoning it all. I won't even post the manufacturer. If this really seems like a good idea, nothing I can say or do will stop you from buying one, but I really hope you will reconsider.

Now, if you're thinking of this as a way of backup communications, and your cell phone remains off or unanswered while in flight (I carry one when I go flying), I'm OK with it. This is a totally different concept from my rant and the advertised purpose of the aforementioned equipment, and this is the very reason why phone numbers to ATC and FSS units are published in the CFS. They are, however, meant entirely as backups for comm failure, not as a primary means of communication.