Would You Fly Drone Airlines?

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by Doug Hall


  •  A single pilot will remotely fly up to 6 aircraft.
  • The flights will last from 8 to 16 hours.
  • The monitors and controls for each aircraft will be placed in a different control room.
  • The pilot will have 2 assistants to help monitor the 6 aircraft.
  • If an aircraft has a problem an alarm will sound and a light will display outside the planes’ control room.

Pilot’s Responsibilities:

  1. Observe and measure of the aircraft’s performance and monitor the psychological condition of the passengers.
  2. Use cognitive stacking skills to maintain up to 19 pieces of data at a time and respond appropriately to changing conditions. The pilot’s thoughts (cognitive shift) will change to a different aircraft every 10 seconds to every 10 minutes and as needed.
  3. Consult and plan processes with other pilots, experts and assistive staff.
  4. Take in-flight phone calls from the family of the passengers and be a resource for questions from assistive staff, students, management, the press and other pilots.
  5. Personally intervene to resolve immediate and on-going issues.
  6. If an aircraft is in danger of crashing the pilot will devote all attention to that aircraft.
  7. Complete complex calculations and operate complex equipment to help ensure a successful landing.
  8. The pilot will be responsible for all aspects of all flights other than to choose the destinations.
  9. Pilots will be responsible for covering each others’ missions during meal, rest, or bathroom breaks.

Care to book a flight? The airline industry doesn’t operate this way and hasn’t had a preventable death in years.

Now, replace the word pilot with nurse; the word aircraft and passenger with patient. Unfortunately, every day in healthcare, preventable medical errors claim the equivalent of all the passengers on a new 787 Dreamliner. About 300 people per day, every day.

What can a patient or family member do to reduce the possibility of injury or worse?

A start is to rethink your image of healthcare. Take an active role to become informed and build a working relationship with your doctor and healthcare team. There are many resources available to you written by those who have experienced the hazards of today’s healthcare. Yes, it’s inconvenient, time consuming and perhaps unpleasant but it’s now essential to protect yourself and loved-ones. Healthcare consumers and professionals working together is a very powerful force for creating safer, kinder care.

See: “The Take-Charge Patient:  How YOU Can Get the Best Medical Care” (reviewed here)

An Analysis of Nurses’ Cognitive Work – AHRQ

Medical Errors Harm Huge Number of Patients – Steven Sternberg, for U.S. News

PULSE of Florida – Patient Safety Book Store and/or Blog and News Section

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One Response to Would You Fly Drone Airlines?

  1. Lucy Pilon says:

    Hello Doug!
    Excellent analogy! You have provided readers with food for thought. I must say that this posting is very useful to those of us who are intersted in addressing the problem of incivility in nursing and health care. With the myraid of activities, interruptions and responsibilities nurses deal with everyday, it is no wonder that errors occur and saftey in hospitals is at risk. Thanks for this enlightening posting, I am sure many will benefit! Lucy RN

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