Think you’re an expert multitasker? Research has found that it’s actually impossible for the human brain to multitask successfully. We’re actually less productive and time-efficient when we attempt to split our attention between two tasks than when we wholeheartedly focus on a single task. Multitasking in the office may be acceptable, but distractions while flying can be highly dangerous. We’ve compiled a few tips to help you stay focused and on-task while operating your aircraft.
Even the most seasoned pilots still perform a pre-flight safety check of their aircraft before taking flight. Disciplined use of checklists can prevent hundreds of accidents caused by weather, traffic, terrain, or aircraft risks. On the other hand, neglected checklists or attempting to multitask while performing a safety check may contribute to dangerous airplane accidents. While it may add more time to your pre-flight schedule, those extra minutes could save you and your passengers from potential harm.
Focusing on navigation, flight instruments, radio, and ATC, normal flight duties take up enough of your attention, and bringing along electronics such as tablets, cameras, and smartphones can be more distracting than helpful. Many GA pilots choose to adopt the “sterile cockpit” regulated by the FAA for airlines. In a sterile cockpit, pilots must refrain from nonessential activities, such as conversation, using extra digital gadgets, and other distractions during critical phases of flight, normally below 10,000 feet. Another alternative is to utilize hands-free options for your nonessential activities, such as a mounted GoPro for pictures or video and using voice activation for digital devices.
Planning your flight well in advance can help you stay relaxed and prepared while in-flight. Give yourself plenty of time to perform a pre-flight inspection of your aircraft from the inside out. Be sure you are checking with ATC frequently and monitoring the weather. By planning ahead, you can avoid unnecessary emergencies and distractions, keeping you safer and more focused while navigating the skies.