The Importance of a “Sterile Cockpit”

sterile_cockpit2-2Six minutes before touchdown, Eastern Air Lines Flight 212, a McDonnell Douglas DC9 with 78 passengers and four crew members on board, was descending toward runway 36 at Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.A. Because patchy dense fog hid the runway from view, a very high frequency omni- directional radio range (VOR) distance measuring equipment (DME) non-precision instrument approach was being flown. During the approach, the flight crew discussed politics, used cars and the nation’s economic uncertainty.

Two minutes prior to touchdown, the conversation switched to trying to identify a local amusement park that the aircraft had just passed. Shortly after receiving landing clearance, the captain remarked to his first officer, “Yeah, we’re all ready. All we got to do is find the airport”. Three seconds later the aircraft impacted terrain 3.3 miles (5.3 kilometers) short of the runway. Seventy two people were killed in the 1974 accident.

A recent review of anonymous reports suggests that non-compliance remains a problem as a means to reduce accidents by prohibiting non-essential crew activities during critical phases of flight.   Read this report below:


The Importance of a “Sterile Cockpit”

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