Meanwhile, Embraer Crews: Watch Where You Put Your Feet
Anyone flying an Embraer Legacy or EMB-135/140/145 regional jet should be very careful where they place their feet while airborne. That's according to the FAA, which earlier this month issued a Safety Alert For Operators (SAFO) [PDF] noting pilots "might inadvertently change VHF radio frequencies or place the ATC transponder into standby mode during flight." [Yes, AVweb is aware of the circumstances surrounding the midair collision covered in the story above.] Apparently, an FAA investigation into an undisclosed issue resulted in the agency's discovering "crewmembers who had the simple habit of placing their shoe on the footrest just below the instrument panel could inadvertently put the ATC transponder into standby mode" or change radio frequencies without the crew's knowledge.
As the FAA's SAFO dryly noted, "switching a transponder with a functioning traffic alert and collision avoidance system (TCAS) to standby mode renders the TCAS ineffective, and is therefore one of the most serious consequences of a pilotís foot inadvertently contacting the radio management unit. Two airplanes equipped with TCAS would fail to see each other if they were on a collision course. Pilots could presume TCAS was operating normally if they failed to notice the subtle TCAS OFF indication on the Pilot Flight Display." The FAA recommends training facilities and operators of affected aircraft ensure their respective crews are aware of this hazard and exercise care when using the provided footrests.