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FAA proposes rule to ban use of wireless devices on flight deck for personal use

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The Federal Aviation Administration is proposing a rule that would prohibit flightcrew members from using a personal wireless communications device or laptop computer for personal use at their duty station on the flight deck while the aircraft is being operated, according to a Jan. 15 Federal Register announcement

The rule conforms with the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, and 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."

According to the FAA, several recent incidents involving a breakdown of "sterile cockpit discipline" prompted Congress to include in the most recent FAA authorization law language prohibiting pilots' personal use of wireless devices. In one 2009 incident, two Northwest pilots used their personal laptop computers during cruise flight and lost situational awareness, leading to a 150 mile fly-by of their Minneapolis-St. Paul destination. In another 2009 incident, a Colgan Air pilot sent a text message on her personal cell phone during the taxi phase of the flight, after the aircraft pushed back from the gate and before the take-off sequence.

The agency says the amended regulatory language will also clarify that the prohibition on use of personal mobile devices doesn't apply to the use of such a device for a purpose directly related to the operation of the aircraft, or for emergency, safety-related, or employment-related communications. The FAA in 2011 began allowing iPads loaded with flight information into cockpits. In September 2012, American Airlines said it became the first commercial carrier to receive FAA approval to use the tablets during all phases of flight.

The FAA will accept public comments on its proposed rule until March 18.

For more:
- read the FAA notice in the Federal Register

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