This is a question we have all asked ourselves at one time or another. Distractions are everywhere and pop up any time. Distractions are different for each of us – some we control, most we do not. The same distraction can be innocuous in one circumstance and disastrous in another. The most important thing to know about distractions is that they are inevitable, but knowing and understanding this is the first line of defense against them.
Look at any crowded sidewalk – people rushing from one place to another, many with their heads down, paying more attention to their smart phones than their next step. There are times when people bump into one another and injuries of all sorts occur. For the most of us however, the consequence of this type of distraction is a chuckle at the viral video of an inattentive texter splashing into a fountain.
If we transform that crowded sidewalk into our busy skies, each person an aircraft flying from one destination to another, a much more serious picture begins to emerge. Consider the infinite number of potential distractions any aviation professional faces every day and the severe consequences a loss of attention can have – definitely not an issue to take lightly. Sadly, there are too many examples of accidents being caused by everyday occurrences that robbed otherwise skilled professionals of their focus with tragic results.
This was the starting point for the Safety Standdown team last year when we decided to tackle this issue. If you attended last year’s seminar, our experts identified the sources of distraction we face in our industry – fatigue, automation, smart phones – and started the discussion on Attention Control Techniques (ACT). In 2015, we decided to expand this focus with ACT II: Practical Applications of Attention Control Techniques. Our goal this year will be to demonstrate the importance of remaining focused with effective real-life strategies to counter distraction. We will do this by drawing from examples of actual incidents and accidents to bolster the key points in this year’s material.
As the executive sponsor of the Safety Standdown program, I am convinced that we have put together a great program that will tackle one of the NTSB’s “most wanted” safety issues. As an airman, I look forward to improving my own skills at Safety Standdown U.S.A. and to meeting you in Wichita next October.
Vice President & General Manager, Customer Services
Bombardier Business Aircraft