At the same time the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is easing restrictions on the in-flight use of electronics for passengers, it is tightening its rules on electronics usage by pilots. A new FAA rule (PDF) published on Tuesday prohibits the personal use of electronic devices by flight crew members while an aircraft is being operated. It is an addendum to the FAA's 1981 "Sterile Cockpit" rule that requires pilots to refrain from non-essential activities during critical phases of flight.

This final rule will prohibit flightcrew members in operations under part 121 from using a personal wireless communications device or laptop computer for personal use while at their duty station on the flight deck while the aircraft is being operated. This rule, which conforms FAA regulations with legislation, is intended to ensure that certain non-essential activities do not contribute to the challenge of task management on the flight deck or a loss of situational awareness due to attention to non-essential tasks.

united_pilots_ipad-1
This FAA rule is a response to earlier instances of distracted flying by commercial airline pilots. In one 2009 incident, two pilots for Northwest, now Delta Air Lines, overshot their destination airport by 150 miles because they were using their personal laptops. During a 78-minute period, neither pilot noticed communications sent by company dispatchers and air traffic control. They only corrected course after a flight attendant called the cockpit to check on the flight's estimated time of arrival.

Though the personal use of electronic devices is banned, the FAA rule does permit the essential use of electronic flightbooks in the cockpit. Several US airlines, including JetBlue, American Airlines and United, have adopted iPads to replace heavy flight bags. These iPads are equipped with key flight charts, reference documents and checklists necessary for the operation of the aircraft.

While pilots must pay attention while flying, a recent FCC proposal would allow passengers to make phone and data calls while flying. In response to consumer opposition to in-flight calling, lawmakers are drafting a bill that would ban in-flight phone calls, says the Associated Press.

"Most passengers would like their flights to go by as quickly and quietly as possible," Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., the committee's chairman and sponsor of the bill, said. "When it comes to cellphones on planes, tap don't talk."

The bill requires the Department of Transportation to issue regulations that would prohibit phone calls during flight. The bill has passed the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and will move to the floor for discussion.

Top Rated Comments

SavMBP15 Avatar
97 months ago
Right, because otherwise pilots would be checking twitter and playing Flappy Bird :rolleyes:

You would be SO surprised at to what goes on in the cockpit.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ArtOfWarfare Avatar
97 months ago
Customers talking on cell phones should be banned by the airlines, not by the FAA or any other government organization, if the issue is entirely with it being rude rather than it having to do with safety.

Phone calls are banned on a bus I frequently ride, and all electronic devices must be silenced, as a consideration for other passengers, not because it would cause any technical problems.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dannyyankou Avatar
97 months ago
Right, because otherwise pilots would be checking twitter and playing Flappy Bird :rolleyes:
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Nunyabinez Avatar
97 months ago


"You sunk my battleship!"
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
roadbloc Avatar
97 months ago
Good. They need to be focusing on flying.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mschmalenbach Avatar
97 months ago
Honestly I would rather have the pilots entertained goofing around on their phones than falling asleep because they have nothing to engage their minds during the hours-long cruise portion of the flight.

Modern aircraft, once in cruise on autopilot, require almost no interaction with the crew to fly. There's no reason to have the pilots staring out into space with absolutely nothing to do. If there's a problem, aircraft systems will let them know and they can deal with it.

... right up to the point where the monitoring / indication & warning system(s) fail...

... and if they're not focused on the flight/journey etc, then they have no situational awareness, which is exactly what they need the instant a problem is recognised...

Do we really have to wait until there is a loss of life and an aircraft before doing the sensible thing of banning the use of these items in the flight deck?

Oh, and by the way, pre-flight checking/prep of the aircraft is also, in my book (ex air force instructor & flight safety officer) is also a critical stage of flight, even though the aircraft is not in the air - or even necessarily moving...

I agree though that maintaining alertness during the cruise phase is an ongoing challenge.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

nothing ear 1 buds 1

Nothing 'Ear (1)' True Wireless Earbuds Launch to Take on AirPods Pro With ANC and Unusual Design for $99

Tuesday July 27, 2021 7:57 am PDT by
Nothing, a new brand from OnePlus founder Carl Pei, has today officially launched the "Ear (1)" true wireless earbuds after months of anticipation around the company's AirPods Pro rival. The Ear (1) features an in-ear design, Active Noise Cancelation, Bluetooth 5.2, IPX4 water resistance, and a charging case with Qi-compatible wireless charging and a USB-C port. Fast pairing is supported on...
iPhone 13 Always On Feature

iPhone 13 to Bring Over a Major Feature From the Apple Watch

Wednesday July 28, 2021 2:21 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming iPhone 13 lineup will feature an always-on display akin to the Apple Watch Series 5 and Series 6, according to recent reports. In his weekly Power On newsletter, Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman, who often reveals accurate insights into Apple's plans, said that the iPhone 13 may feature an Apple Watch-inspired always-on mode. The Apple Watch Series 5 and Apple Watch...
duracell battery bitter coating

Apple Says Don't Buy AirTag Replacement Batteries With Bitter Coating

Wednesday July 28, 2021 11:08 am PDT by
Since AirTags were just released earlier this year and are expected to have a year-long battery life, it may be some time yet before AirTag users need a replacement battery, but when the time comes for a refresh, Apple is warning customers not to buy batteries with a bitter coating. AirTags use coin-shaped CR2032 batteries, which happen to be a size that's easy to swallow. Some battery...
iPad mini pro feature 2

iPad Mini 6 to Feature 8.3-Inch Display With No Home Button and Narrower Bezels

Monday July 26, 2021 12:26 pm PDT by
The sixth-generation iPad mini that's in the works will have an 8.3-inch display, according to display analyst Ross Young. That will be larger than the current 7.9-inch display, with the larger size due to the removal of the Home button and a narrower bezel design. Rumors about the iPad mini 6 have been picking up in recent weeks ahead of its prospective launch this fall. Apple analyst...
iOS 15 General Feature Purple

Everything New in iOS 15 Beta 4: Safari Tweaks, MagSafe Battery Pack Support, Notification Updates and More

Tuesday July 27, 2021 11:47 am PDT by
Apple today released the fourth betas of iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, introducing additional refinements to the new features that are coming in the software updates. In these betas, Apple has introduced changes for Safari, Notifications, Focus mode, and more. Safari Updates Apple is continuing to refine the design of Safari on the iPhone, and in iOS 15, there are tweaks to improve usability. ...
new m1 chip

Tim Cook on Apple Deciding to Manufacture Components: 'We Ask Ourselves If We Can Do Something Better'

Tuesday July 27, 2021 3:04 pm PDT by
During today's earnings call for the third fiscal quarter of 2021 (second calendar quarter), Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked how Apple decides what components to purchase and what components to develop, and Cook said that Apple asks if it can be done better. We ask ourselves if we can do something better. If we can deliver a better product. If we can buy something in the market and it's great...
iPad Pro Feature Magenta

Mac Otakara: iPad Air 5 to Feature iPad Pro-Like Design, No Design Changes Coming to iPad Mini 6 or iPad 9

Tuesday July 27, 2021 11:06 am PDT by
The next-generation iPad Air will feature a design that's similar to the third-generation iPad Pro, according to Japanese site Mac Otakara. Citing a Chinese supplier, the site says that the fifth-generation iPad Air will continue to feature a 10.9-inch display and a Touch ID button on the side, but it will gain a dual-lens camera system with Wide and Ultra Wide cameras. A LiDAR Scanner is ...
Apple Leak Feature

Apple Demands Leaker Reveals Sources Under Threat of Being Reported to Police

Wednesday July 28, 2021 6:53 am PDT by
Apple has sent a cease and desist letter to a leaker based in China as part of its continuing attempts to curtail leaks of unreleased products, according to Vice. A Chinese citizen who shared images of stolen Apple prototypes on social media was sent a warning letter from Fangda Partners, Apple's law firm in China, on June 18, 2021. An extract from the letter read:You have disclosed without ...
iOS 14 on iPhone feature emergency

Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 14.7.1 With Fix for Touch ID Apple Watch Bug

Monday July 26, 2021 9:48 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 14.7.1, minor bug fix updates that come just a week after the release of iOS 14.7, software that introduced new Apple Card features and support for the MagSafe Battery Pack. The iOS and iPadOS 14.7.1 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new software, go to...
General iOS 14

iOS 14.7.1 and macOS Big Sur 11.5.1 Patch Security Vulnerability That May Have Been Actively Exploited

Monday July 26, 2021 11:55 am PDT by
Apple today released unexpected iOS 14.7.1 and iPadOS 14.7.1 updates to the public, and according to a newly released support document, the software addresses a serious security vulnerability that may have been exploited in the wild. Apple says that an application may have been able to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges due to a memory corruption issue. "Apple is aware of a report ...