(in the power utility business)
Just my $.02 from an arm-chair wannabe private pilot.
Thanks. But we have enough spare change thrown in by qualified individuals.
The general concensus on most boards is that pilots and controllers just don't give a hoot. And the folks who are getting their panties in a bunch are the folks like yourself....pretty much the same folks the media is targeting.
Lets break down this incident: Was the child CONTROLLING aircraft? No. The dad was. Was the kid parroting what his dad told him to say? Yes. Was this unprofessional? Slightly.....although the jetBlue crew seemed to not think so, nor did any other pilots on freq. Was the dad wearing a headset that he could have stepped in and corrected any stumbling the kid could have done? Yes...in a heartbeat. Did this incident happen at one of the slowest times at JFK? Yes. Would this have ever happened during a high-saturation time? Not in a million years. Was this unsafe? Not in the LEAST!!! Now, lets not generalize here, I wanna know from those of you who think it was unsafe WHY it was unsafe?
In one of the two aircraft I fly, the right seat is a PASSENGER seat. (PC-12). Now, here is a non-qualified individual (lets pretend it's you), with a full set of controls in front of him, and his/her buddies in the back. This can become an extremely distracting situation when the weather is good and workload is low, nevermind when the weather goes down and I'm on the arrival or departure into TEB. But I take steps to mitigate the distraction including a full "sterile cockpit" briefing. And I will even utilize the right seat pax from time to time in assisting me with setting the right side altimeter, handing me charts, etc...
Now, here we are, fat dumb and happy in the high 20's. I've turned his headset mic back on, and we are conversing normally. Workload is extremely low, the frequency is fairly dead. Now, I anticipate a handoff to Atlanta Center, explain to my right seater that, shortly, we are going to get handed off to Atlanta center on 128.25. At this point, he knows our callsign, has heard about 15-20 handoffs, and knows the jist of what to say. I tell him: "As soon as center comes on and says 'Pilatus NXXXXX contact Atlanta Center now 128.25', push THAT little button and say '128.25 Pilatus NXXXXX'...ok?" And he does it perfectly. Lets say he stumbles a bit, or messes it up some how....WHAT NOW? OH JESUS!! WE'RE ALL DEAD!!!Oh, wait a minute, I have the overriding mic button and repeat the handoff in a nanosecond.
The above is pretty much the exact same thing that took place in the JFK tower cab last week.