March 16, 2005

Bad Air Day

This afternoon I did something entirely different.

I landed (or more accurately, I dropped) a 747-400 through the runway at SFO and I used a 757 to plow a furrow in a field outside of Chicago.

Then I flew around on Mars.

You should be very glad that I did not decide to become an airline pilot.

I spent the afternoon over at the Crew-Vehicle Systems Research Facility at NASA/Ames.  In particular I was attempting to fly this and that - not very successfully I might add.

NASA is apparently partially shuttering this facility in order to shift funds to other projects - it's part of our President's goal to return to the moon and go to Mars.

I am fully in support of resuming manned space exploration.

But I don't see why we have to sacrifice research into the safety of airline cockpit operations.  Pilots are flying ever larger aircraft ever longer distances.  We know that pilot error is a significant cause of incidents and that the design of cockpits and instruments affects crew behavior, particularly under stress.

The USA is still wealthy enough to afford to go to the moon (again) and continue to improve airline safety.

So why are we turning off these machines and closing this center?

I would guess that in terms of lives saved per dollar expended that this kind of center is a much better investment than the laughable "security checks" at airports.

Posted by karl at March 16, 2005 11:56 PM