NTSB Board Member Makes Insightful Comment on Aviation Safety

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News Article: Lecture cites grilling a dead cat as dangerous aviation conversation
The statute which authorizes the NTSB requires that three of the Members of the Board must have technical expertise. Member Robert Sumwalt, who more than meets the statutory requirements, made an insightful lecture at Purdue University, as reported in the attached article. While the reporter’s headline highlights the humorous line of the speech, Member Sumwalt’s message was that all of the aviation professionals—pilots, mechanics, controllers, inspectors, Board staff, flight attendants and all others involved in the operation of aircraft—need to be focused on her/his job all of the time. He cited several examples of superfluous (and at the time “humorous”) conversations of how deviation from strict discipline resulted in serious results.
Such reminders are VERY useful. Especially now that automation has reduced the degree to which a pilot interacts with the controls, it is more important that the cockpit crew keep their attention dialed into the controller communications, reading the data which the multiple instruments provide and reviewing the checklists. The same mental process of centering on the task assigned to each of us is critical to achieving the level of safety to which we all aspire.
Thanks, Member Sumwalt.

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