NTSB says pilot error caused crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407
The chairwoman of the NTSB, Deborah Hersman, has noted that electronic devices are becoming a hazard to transportation. Hersman said, "Recent NTSB investigations have identified personal wireless technology use on the job. This phenomenon is becoming more widespread, and these phone calls, texts and other distractions have deadly consequences and must be addressed with all due haste by the transportation industry."
The agency noted that distractions from electronics have played apart in many recent accidents and incidents, such as the August 2009 mid-air collision between a small private Piper aeroplane and a tour helicopter over the Hudson River in New York City killing all involved. The NTSB noted that one of the air traffic controllers was making a phone call and failed to warn the aircraft of the conflict that existed between each other in their airspace. However, this was disputed by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association which represents air traffic controllers nationwide. The NTSB later retracted some of its statements.
The other notable incident was that of Northwest Airlines Flight 188 in October, that overshot its destination of Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport by 150 miles (241 km) before the pilots noticed. The pilots claimed they were checking schedules on their laptop computers in violation of basic piloting rules, the sterile cockpit rule and the policy of Delta Air Lines, who had recently acquired Northwest.
The NTSB's last board meeting which was held two weeks ago, about the 2008 train collision between a Metrolink commuter rail train and a Union Pacific freight train in Chatsworth, California also pertained to distractions by electronic devices. In the statement released by the NTSB for that meeting, the board stated that "according to records from the wireless provider, on the day of the accident, while on duty, both the Metrolink engineer and the Union Pacific conductor used wireless devices to send and receive text messages." The NTSB has recommended that audio and video recorders be installed in locomotive and control cabs because of the collision.