Should airline pilots have Wi-Fi access? Southwest and other airlines say yes

More and more pilots are being given access to iPads, Android-based Galaxy tablets, and other electronic devices for use in the cockpit. Replacing fifty pounds of manuals and charts with a three-pound tablet sounds like an easy call. But should pilots have access to Wi-Fi during flight?

An Apex blog post (Apex is the Airline Passenger Experience Association) quotes pilots who wish they had access to the same realtime weather info the passengers a few yards behind them cal call up thanks to Gogo Inflight Internet in the cabin. Southwest Airlines, which has started replacing Gogo equipment in favor of Row 44's satellite-based broadband service, says they plan to put Wi-Fi in the cockpit, as well.

But, will pilots manage to avoid the distractions of being online if they're given Internet access in the cockpit? Just three years ago, a pair of Northwest pilots got distracted and flew 150 miles past their destination because they were both focused on their laptops -- and that was without realtime distractions.

What do you say? Should pilots have access to the Internet while they're flying the plane?


BR November 27, 2012 at 10:33 pm

I think it could be beneficial for pilots to have WiFi. Maybe they could do something to block their access to sites like Facebook and Netflix.

I don't think they should have Internet access. There are a lot of things that they need to be paying attention to during a flight, and reading their email or checking the news is not one of them.