Yesterday as I was deboarding a flight I peeked inside the cockpit and wondered that the f**k all those buttons and knobs and levers are all about. Seriously. Do they really need all of that?
It seems to me that the steering wheel thingamajig does about half of all the things the pilot needs to do: left, right, up, down. Then there’s the ON/OFF for the engines, some throttling, braking, wheels up/down, a few communications functions, maybe some climate controls and a few other odds and ends. But that’s about the same complexity as any car. And I’ll bet your car doesn’t look like the cockpit of a 747.
My theory is that the manufacturer throws in extra knobs and buttons and levers just to charge more. I’m guessing that the majority of aircraft designers, and most of the buyers, are males. I think I speak for all men when I say I would gladly pay extra for knobs and levers that are not attached to anything. I like knobs and levers. Buttons too. And if you toss in a few extraneous digital readouts and dials, I’ll just stand there and drool and hand you my wallet.
As I stood at the open doorway to the Valhalla of unnecessary controls, I began panting with unbridled, genetically induced technology lust. I wanted to drag the pilot out of his uber-cool seat, put on his headphones and start poking and prodding things just to see what happened. Compounding my jealousy was the fact that the pilot and copilot were going through some sort of shut-down procedure that could not have sounded more technologically attractive. I don’t recall the details, but it sounded roughly like this:
Copilot: “Power down the main thruster modules.”
Copilot: “Reset the navigation framajam.”
Copilot: “Depressurize the tale fin metaskeleton.”
Copilot: “Matriculate the walla mung.”
Pilot: “Did you just make that one up?”
Copilot: “Sometimes I invent names for the buttons that aren’t attached to anything.”
Pilot: “Roger that.”
The Best Dilbert: Blog Post of All Time