The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will publish a final rule on 12 February that prohibits commercial airline pilots from using portable electronics or laptops for personal use while at their duty station during all phases of flight.
The mandate extends the 1981 “sterile cockpit” rules for electronic devices, which forbids pilots from using laptops and other communications devices below 10,000ft (3,050m) and during taxiing, take-off and landing. Now, the pilots will be prohibited from using these electronic devices for non-work purposes during all phases of flight.
Several incidents contributed to Congress’ decision to tighten the rules, including one where two pilots were using their laptops and lost situational awareness.
In 2009, Flightglobal reported that two Northwest Airlines pilots on an Airbus A320 flight from San Diego to Minneapolis overflew their destination airport by 150nm (277km) on 21 October of that year. The pilots told National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators that they were using personal laptops during the flight.
The rule also cites another incident where a pilot sent a text message on her personal phone during taxiing and pushed back from the gate before the take-off sequence.
The rule will go into effect in the middle of April, 60 days from when it is published on 12 February.