The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) called on air carrier operators to create and enforce policies that will limit distractions in the cockpit and keep pilots focused on transporting passengers safely.
The Information for Operators (InFO) guidance reminds crewmembers and air carriers that any cockpit distraction that diverts attention from required duties can “constitute a safety risk.” This includes the use of personal electronic devices for activities unrelated to flight.
In October 2009 the pilots of Northwest Flight 188 over-flew their destination by 150 miles because they were using their laptop computers for personal activities and lost situational awareness.
The FAA’s Sterile Cockpit Rule prohibits pilots from engaging in any type of distracting behavior during critical phases of flight, including take-off and landing.
In this InFO, the FAA is asking air carriers to address the issue of distraction through their crew training programs and to create a safety culture to control cockpit distractions.
As technology advances, laptops and other devices are becoming valuable tools for pilots to use in their routine duties. But they must only be used in the cockpit if they assist pilots in safely operating an aircraft.