FAA proposes further limits on flight crew personal electronics use

Washington – The Federal Aviation Administration on Jan. 15 published a notice of proposed rulemaking (.pdf file) to limit aircraft crew from using potentially distracting personal electronic devices such as cell phones, tablets and laptops during flight.

If enacted, the regulation would apply to aircraft pilots and other crew members, but would exempt devices used directly for employment-related, emergency-related or safety-related communications. Previously, federal regulations prohibited pilots and other crew members from using devices only during taxiing, take-off, landing and other activities taking place below 10,000 feet, according to the NPRM. FAA also clarified that “employment-related” communications are not at the pilot’s discretion, but are “part of FAA-approved procedures regarding the use of personal wireless communications devices or laptops.”

The NPRM follows several recent incidents in which personal laptop or cell phone use potentially contributed to safety incidents during critical flight phases. Agency officials hope the ruling will reduce the loss of situational awareness during all stages of a flight, the NPRM states.

Comments on the NPRM are due March 17.

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