FAA urges pilots to limit cockpit distractions

April 29, 2010

A handful of recent incidents has compelled the Federal Aviation Administration to urge pilots and airline operators to limit cockpit distractions.

The Sterile Cockpit Rule (.pdf file) prohibits pilots from engaging in any type of distracting behavior during critical phases of flight, including take-off and landing. In its Information for Operators advisory (.pdf file), issued April 26, FAA recommended "air carrier operators to create and enforce policies that will limit distractions in the cockpit and keep pilots focused on transporting passengers safely." The agency noted a handful of incidents in which distraction was an issue, including the October 2009 incident involving two Northwest Airlines pilots who overflew their destination by 150 miles because they were using their laptop computers for personal activities and lost situational awareness.