One industry expert says that the recent case of Northwest Airlines pilots overshooting their destination because they were busy on laptops shows that the extent of automation in the cockpit, though immensely useful, has created a problem with boredom and fatigue among pilots. "There's so much automation in the cockpit that, literally, an aircraft taking off from Los Angeles and landing in New York can have very little attendance by the crew," said aviation consultant Michael Goldfarb, a former chief of staff at the FAA.

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